ARTIST PROFILE: SLYLEAF
A Voice of Passion and Reason
Giving us a refreshing perspective on the world of music making, Slyleaf is a self-taught vocalist with a love of linguistics and lyricism. She has had her vocal talents featured by the hit label Monstercat and can even be heard in the addictive game OSU. Supplying vocals to “Thinking” by Mega Flare and arthur x medic, I sat down with Slyleaf to talk about the new track and her passion for singing and songwriting.
You’ve already established yourself as an incredible vocalist, but how did you first get involved in music and singing?
I taught myself piano and guitar and was a huge band geek in school. I’ve never had any formal vocal training. I used to watch vocal coaching videos on YouTube and picked up a few things, but I usually just go with what feels right. My friends and I would sing together in high school and have “jam sessions,” haha. After high school, I started to record vocal and guitar covers and uploaded them to SoundCloud.
Would you say that was the start of your early years in music?
It definitely started with covers. I’ve always been really inspired by Lights, Ellie Goulding, and Paramore, so I did a lot of covers of their songs. I also really liked the game OSU and loved the anime songs in the game, so I started to watch more anime based on which songs I liked, haha. I was already studying Japanese, so I started to do covers of anime songs with Japanese vocals. Then one day I was contacted on Twitter by James Landino who said he needed someone to do Japanese vocals for a video game. I agreed, recorded the vocals, and it got sent out. Turns out the game the song was for was OSU. Hahaha. I really came full circle.
That’s honestly amazing, haha. So you can sing in both English and Japanese?
Language is probably my second biggest passion after singing. I studied Japanese for five or six years then started studying Korean in 2017. It definitely takes more time to write lyrics in Japanese, though, and my Korean still needs improving. But I do get a lot of inspiration from Japanese alternative rock and K-Pop.
Out of curiosity, how would you label your vocals? Soprano?
Probably alto. I used to do a lot of the super cutesy, high-pitched vocals, but my sound has definitely matured a bit more over the past few years.
So when did you start to really focus on singing as a career path and not just as a hobby?
At first, I was just uploading covers during my free time on the weekends. I’d upload them to SoundCloud and maybe 100 people would listen to it. But then people started contacting me and asking me to do vocals for them, and I realized that people wanted to work with me and listen to me. One of my first big projects was the Astral EP “Sapphires.” And then the really big turning point was working with Duumu on the song “Illuminate.” I found out that it was being put out by Monstercat and was really worried that they wouldn’t like it after my vocals were added, haha. But it was a huge moment because it was a real label, and I was able to see so many people liking and commenting and saying how much they enjoyed it. All of that said, it wasn’t until about a month ago that I decided to focus more time on content creation and singing as a full-time thing. I’ve always had this burning desire and want to pursue my own ideas.
Art credit: @just_boombza
Well you’ve definitely been putting out a lot of great music over the years. For this new release “Thinking,” what was it like working with Mega Flare and arthur x medic?
It was pretty much a “one and done” thing for me, haha. Mega Flare contacted me and said he wanted something with a nostalgic pop vibe. I wrote the lyrics and did the vocals and sent it over. I’ve worked with him before and have always had a great time. I’d never worked with arthur before, but they were so easy to work with. I would definitely like to work with them again.
Have you enjoyed working with Tiny Waves?
Tiny Waves used to feel like a Twitter mutual: you kind of see them and admire them from afar but never really directly interact, haha. I’ve enjoyed working with them finally. They’ve been nothing but kind and professional, and I’d love to work with them again.
Is it usually a pretty smooth process to add your vocals and lyrics to a track?
Producers will usually send you the instrumental and tell you to do whatever you want with the vocals. I like to just loop the track and get a rough draft of the lyrics. For me, lyrics usually come first and then a melody. So it can be a little difficult when you’re working with someone else. Sometimes they’ll ask you to change something, but you’ll think it doesn’t really work vocally. Maybe it ends on an awkward syllable or is too much of a tongue twister. But you’ve always got to be sure to speak up for yourself. Don’t be afraid of stepping on toes. Communicate, communicate, communicate.
Was it easy to do the lyrics and vocals for “Thinking”?
It’s a super cute song with a basic rap and lots of harmonies. Super upbeat. Since it’s a pop song, I wanted to be sure that it had a repetitive melody that would get stuck in people’s heads and have them singing it over and over again.
What are you most looking forward to with this latest release?
I’m not much of a numbers person. Just seeing comments here and there saying how much people have been enjoying the music is what I enjoy the most.
Do you have any advice for aspiring vocalists or musicians?
Don’t be discouraged if you’re not a crazy powerful belter. If there is something unique or special about your voice, embrace it. If it’s something you’d really like to change, then you can always take lessons. I might finally take some lessons myself, haha. And always be sure to share what you’re working on with your friends! When I make something, I always want to show it to everyone. It’s all about feedback.
Are there any other projects you’re working on or looking forward to?
I think this is my first time officially discussing this. I’ve got an EP / full album that’s hopefully going to be released by the end of this year. It’s a fantasy album inspired by a lot of video game OSTs with a bunch of other genres tucked into it. I’ve been working on it for over a year and would ideally like to have it out sometime this fall.
Looking forward to hearing it! Where can people find you and your content?
You can find me pretty much anywhere as Slyleaf. I stream on Twitch and have been uploading to YouTube. I’m kinda starting to get into video editing but mostly focus on singing and streaming. You can also hear some of my songs on TikTok, though I just kinda lurk on there, haha.
Any final words you’d like to share with the world?
Don’t ever think that your passions are too cringe or mainstream. Like what you like and be yourself, and people will be happy with it. Embrace your own uniqueness.
Art credit: @unluckyyona
With high-profile vocals hidden behind a humble exterior, Slyleaf brings a light-hearted enthusiasm and a well-spoken voice of reason to the pop music scene. Her vocals can be heard in the May 31st release of “Thinking” by Mega Flare and arthur x medic. Make sure you show your support to all three of these amazing artists and be sure to follow Tiny Waves on all our social media for upcoming releases and incredible music.
- Charming H. Thomas