JYLDA is one of the artists for whom 2019 was an extremely busy year. We are looking back on her journey, collaborations, inspiration and future plans.
Our friendship with Gianna Gehlhar started over a year ago when after travelling in Asia I was coming back to Europe. I wanted to settle in London and was looking for a new job and a room to rent. Mutual friend musician Sami Simon responded to my post on Facebook and introduced me to Gianna as she was renting out her room.
Without even meeting in person, we already had a connection. After that, we kept in touch, and I was patiently waiting for her new chapter. When the comeback single “Torrential River” was released, I knew this was the beginning of something magical. The song did well on the Indie Top 39 and the following single “Reeled” continued with the catchy vibe.
Originally this post was planned at the time of the release of Jylda’s EP “Twitch” (April 2019). But as always, there is a time for everything. Finally, the time has come, and we are incredibly proud to introduce JYLDA as one of the rising artists everyone should know.
“My sound is dark but warm. I want to find the sweet spot between synthetic and organic”.JYLDA
How would you describe your sound?
I like to combine electronic sounds and drums with acoustic percussion. But most of all, I find it essential to use the sound to put the voice into a comforting bed, that supports and surrounds it without taking from it. The songs are in the centre. In the past months, I’ve been on a constant search and stage of experimentation to see where my sound will go in my next releases. And I’m positive about my new direction — which is the essence of the ‘Twitch’ EP.
Can you tell us about your creative process?
The crucial thing about making art is following things through. The spark of the first idea can come from very different places – a situation, something I read, a drum beat, dreaming of a melody and waking up humming it. After that, you need to commit to the idea, refine it, stick with it until it’s finished, which is sometimes excruciating.
“It’s about not stopping the work too early and also knowing when to let it go”.Jylda
Tell us about the journey from your debut single ‘Body’ up until the release of ‘Torrential River’?
In between these releases, a lot of things happened. I have grown so much as an artist during this time. I moved to London and made my debut EP ‘Twitch’. I worked on the tracks until absolute exhaustion. I’ve collaborated with amazing musicians and produced music videos I am pleased with. I played great shows, supporting artists I admire like opening for Zola Jesus and Lydmor.
How do you create a style for Jylda?
The visual part is essential to me. I am continually collecting inspirations for outfits, videos and live shows in several visual mood boards that I make. It’s fun and helps me to build the world my songs live in. For some videos, we got costumes from the National Theatre! It was incredible to go through their props and outfits that were manufactured for the plays. There are rows and rows of clothes for every era of humanity you can think of — all made with impeccable detail. It resonated with what I wanted style-wise, there is a grandeur in those outfits. Something extravagant.
Music videos accompanied all of your singles. Can you share more about the ideas behind each of the videos?
I released this song when I was still living in Berlin. David Vajda directed it. The approach is very different, as it’s a narrative video, a short film, a little horror love story, inspired by David Lynch and the Coen Brothers. It has been selected for several film festivals around the world (Berlin Music Video Awards, Bogotá International Music Video Festival, Bucharest ShortCut Cinefest, International Music Video Underground). I don’t want to give away too much about the story; watch it until the end!
It was vital for me to show the aspect of rebirth in this video. The visuals for the song explore the frenzy of heartbreak as fuel. I am reborn from the torrential river that made me drown and now baptised with the strength of liberation, building a new reign as a devilish new self in a vast, dark industrial scenery.
This was my first single from the EP and the first time I worked with director George Bushaway. It was also the first time I was involved as an art director and wrote the concept for it — which I also did for ‘Reeled’. The video was filmed at The Steamship, an artist-run project space in Poplar and the costumes were hired from the National Theatre.
The video for ‘Reeled’ melts theatre elements, Italo Western and 00’s music video moves into one otherworldly dance rave, like an opera adaption set in a techno club. I find my fellow misfits in the underground. Together we form a gang and move through the night — under one spell and in one wake.
This is the second single from the EP. Creating the video, I worked with George Bushaway again. We shot the video in a friend’s basement in Leyton, East London. Most of the outfits used are by independent fashion designers Field of Ponies, fuck.lexxi and Elly Beckford and also from the National Theatre.
From videos you released, seems like you are portraying Jylda as a very strong, quirky, daring and femme fatale kind of woman. Is that a character or that’s how you are in real life as well?
You’re right; there is something evil about the character you can see in all of my videos. I wouldn’t say that I am like that in real life. But it’s something I like to play with. In theatre and opera, the evil character is often the most fun to play and the most interesting to watch. There is a lot of humour and irony in that which I like to use for my videos and the Jylda character.
I’m not an advocate for revenge at all, but I like the idea of taking strength from being hurt and transforming it into power.Jylda
And then there is the way I act when I play live. I would say that this stage persona is a significant part of myself. I can be quiet and withdrawn as a person, but often who I am on stage feels like my most authentic self.
What advice you’d give your younger self when it comes to creating music?
Collaborate as much as you can. When I was younger, I wanted to do everything on my own. Now I know how inspiring it is to work on music with other people.
This year has been so full of great sessions with people from a lot of different genres.
I’ve worked on music with the classical, contemporary composer Rafael Marino Arcaro. I can’t tell you any details yet, but we are soon going to put out a song together that is entirely different from anything either of us has done before.
In May, I worked with Sam Aaron, the creator and programmer of the live music coding software Sonic Pi. We performed a rework of my track ‘Reeled’ at the Thinking Digital Conference in this massive venue called Sage Gateshead in Newcastle. It was such a great experience to work with him and live code and change the track on stage. You can watch the video of the performance here:
This year I released singles with the electro-pop band, HUGH:
London rock band Artificial Pleasure:
and producer Kirk Spencer:
I have also recently worked on tracks with the Berlin electronic producer Ah!Kosmos and producer Vegas Gold.
All of these collaborations made me grow immensely as an artist. When collaborating with someone else you see how they work and it makes you realise more about how you work yourself. And you might learn or change something about your approach.
“Music is my favourite language”.Jylda
Is there anyone else you’d like to collaborate with?
So many! There are lots of great and inspiring musicians out there. I want to work with Grimes, Kaytranada, the danish Band Chinah and Robyn. Arca, she is an incredibly forward pushing producer and performer, and I love every track she produced. Sophie is an amazing creative producer too who I would like to collaborate with.
What artists do you listen to right now?
The new Kindness Album, CHINAH and Rosie Lowe to name a few. I’ve just made a playlist with artists I’m currently listening too that I update frequently. It’s called twitching tunes:
What is essential for you while performing live?
Before the show, the most important thing to me is to have my troubleshooting strategies ready and that I could play every song in my sleep. I have a small electronic solo set up where I trigger samples with a launchpad, play keyboard and use some effect pedals on vocals. I prepare short choreographies for myself that I then adapt, depending on the mood of the show. I love playing concerts and having this unique connection with the audience.
Another thing that’s important for me is the whole staging and scenery of the show. Coming from the opera, I always want to turn concerts into something otherworldly, with a lot of drama, telling a story and painting a theatrical setting. That’s why I put an emphasis on lighting and colour at my release show. We had a red dress code, and I was wearing purple in front of a red screen on stage. It was a reference to the cover art of my single Torrential River: purple hands in front of a red background (painted by artist Steve McCracken https://www.stevemccrackenart.com/).
Do you have a song, that when you hear it, you’d say, damn I wish I’d written that?
Madonna ‘Like a Prayer’. Genius.
What are the biggest challenges you are facing as an independent artist?
I guess the biggest challenge for me about working independently is to take care of so many aspects of the project on my own. But this also gives me the freedom to release what I want whenever I want and to make my ideas come true exactly how I want. I’m grateful for having this flexibility and for having found so many creative partners who helped me to get where I am now.
I don’t hide anything; it’s full-on expression without holding back.Jylda
How would you define success in the music business?
Success has always been about fulfilling my creative vision and following through with it and making the ideas come to life — enjoying the process and not giving up while working on them.
What has been your most significant achievement so far?
The release of my debut EP ‘Twitch’ and the release show for it was the most significant achievement.
It has been so exciting (and a bit scary): moving to London, meeting all these great people who were part of the engineering and release process of the EP, making the videos (and art directing for the first time) and crafting my vision for the future. I’m proud of this piece of work and can’t wait for what’s to come.
What advice would you give for those who are at the beginning of starting a career in music?
Set yourself musical boundaries but no limits.
Where do you see yourself musically in a few years?
I see myself having made albums and live shows I’m proud of, music that moves and shakes people up. I hope I will have challenged myself in ways I don’t even know now. And to have succeeded through it. Also, I want to write and direct a pop opera at some point in my life. I don’t think the time has come for it yet, but I’ve been collecting ideas for it for some years now, and it’s something I’m determined to do.
What you got planned next?
I’ve been working on a lot of new music and continuing crafting my sound. The next release will be my joint single with Rafael Marino Arcaro this year. I’ve been working on more songs with him – which are coming out in 2020. I can’t wait to share them. And there will be many more collaborative tracks I will put out too. I’ve also got some exciting live shows lined up that will be announced soon.