“This Is Truly How I Feel!” Elyanna Speaks Her Truth

Backstage at her GovBall debut...

Last Sunday, Palestinian-Chilean musician Elyanna made her Govball debut. Emerging through a veil of fog, Elyanna burst onto the festival’s main stage and immediately lured in crowds with her stunning vocals and magnetic stage presence. What truly set her apart was her unique production, a sonic blend of Arabic pop and Latin beats, a fusion that is rarely seen in the industry. Backed with contemporary dance numbers, her performance was a culturally rich experience that left the audience spellbound.

Everything about Elyanna is relevant: what she stands for, her style and her ethereal energy.

Everything is happening now for Elyanna. Although Elyanna – or Elian Margieh – moved to the States at 15 to pursue music, it wasn’t ‘till the last two years that she started gaining international recognition outside the Arab music scene. In 2023, the recording artist made Coachella history by being the first singer to perform a complete set in Arabic. Shortly after Coachella, Rolling Stone honoured the pop singer by naming her one of their 25 Artists to Watch. This past April, Elyanna released her debut album, ‘Woledto’, which translates to “I am born,” a title that represents her swift rise to stardom. The nine-track album offers a diverse soundscape for her fans, filled with themes of empowerment and love, propelling her artistry forward.

Elyanna sat down with CLASH post-GovBall to discuss cultural influences, identity and inspiration.

First off, how do you feel about your first experience and performance at GovBall?

I feel really hyped. I feel really good. We just did GovBall for the first time; all my friends, family and team are here, and it’s been exciting, honestly! I had a really good performance on the main stage, so it’s a big deal.

Who else this weekend at GovBall were you dying to see?

There are so many artists that I love and want to see. I would say I’d love to see Peso Pluma. Next time, I’d love to be here the other days and see full sets.

Aside from genre, how would you describe the music you create?

I feel like the music I create has no limits. It’s free. It’s really who I am because I’m from different places and I’m from different cultures. I get inspired by my Palestinian side or my Chilean side. I love to include that naturally in my music; I can never run away from it. I feel like there are a lot of similarities between my Arab side and my Latina side. I just enjoy taking from the rest of the world. I’m inspired by cultures in general. I love Algerian music, Egyptian music, and even music from Spain, so I have to include it in my art.

Since you mainly sing in Arabic and English, would you like to write lyrics in Spanish or other languages?

Yes, definitely! One day, you’ll hear that for sure! I want to do things like that at the right time because I want to feel ready for it and I want to make sure it never feels forced. This is very important to me, music needs to feel like it’s happening at the right time because that’s when you get the most beautiful, timeless songs ever.

How do you find strength and solace in everything happening at home?

Everywhere I go, I represent where I come from. It’s important to know that we have to be strong for our people. We have to use our platforms to talk about Palestine and show its beauty and culture in general. We have so many artists and so much talent that deserve to be heard.

How do you incorporate your spirituality into your music?

Since I was a little girl, I’ve always had a lot of beliefs. I’m from the Holy Lands! Being an artist back home in Nazareth, we don’t have a lot of opportunities, but I always knew that I had this confidence. I don’t know where this drive came from, but it came from somewhere.

I can never explain it. I am so lucky to have my family, people who believe in me, people who tell me the truth. I was blessed with a talent, so I want to make sure I spread my message right.

What is your favorite song to perform?

Oh, that’s tough! Now I’m performing my new album. I told my brother last time that I love all the new songs that I have. When I’m in the studio, I am thinking of the stage and the whole performance. I am enjoying all the songs, but specifically ‘Al Sham’. I think the choreography and the way I sing it have a lot of rage and soul, and it ends up really powerful. The music video I shot with Adam and my brother has a lot of deep meanings.

What’s it like working with your brother as your creative director? Do people compare your partnership to Billie and Finneas?

I love it because they are very talented. I love seeing the bond between family and work. My brother and I have a special connection, and it’s meant to be that way. I am really grateful because I wouldn’t do what I do without him. We’ve been doing this since I was seven, and now we are still doing it with a greater platform. I think we’re never distracted; we just want to create art that feels real. Obviously, we have our arguments, but I think that pushes you. When everyone agrees, then something is off.

What does this album mean to you?

I just had two EPs before, so this album is really who I am. I am a little bit of anything. I’m a little bit of an angel, or an angry angel. I want to be fun and sexy, but I am also deep. This is truly how I feel.

‘WOLEDTO’ is out now.

Words: Anna Carlson
Photo Credit: Erica Harris DeValve

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