Why Elyanna Set Her Palestinian and Chilean Culture at the Forefront of Her Upcoming Debut Album

Palestinian-Chilean musician Elyanna carries the sounds of her culture in both her spirit and artistry. On the latest episode of Rolling Stone‘s On Your Radar, the 22-year-old recalled the surreal experience of bringing the Arabic language to Coachella last year but also extending that influence and inspiration to her recordings through sampling her grandfather — who used to be a poet — or singing songs she wrote with her brother about feeling melancholic in Palestine.

“I was born and raised in Nazareth, Palestine. I’m also part Chilean. I feel like I take my influence from my background and my culture,” she tells Rolling Stone. “I feel like the twist is that I used to listen to a lot of jazz, and I used to sing a lot of jazz, but yet my parents would always listen to authentic Arabic songs. It’s a mix of all of these things that I grew up around, and that inspired me when I was younger.”

Elyanna’s culture permeates her language, fashion, movements on stage and in front of the camera — two places she feels are akin — and in the visuals she shares alongside the music. “When you’re trying to run away from the things that make you who you are is when you lose your identity,” she explains. “I like to always stick to my culture, me and my sister always work on getting the looks together and we always try to find something unique to add because our culture is so beautiful and unique.”

But her approach is collaborative, too. Not only with her sister on the fashion front or her brother as a songwriter and musician but also with her choreographer. Through dance, they’re able to communicate emotion that transcends language. “When I create music, I’m always also thinking of the movements I can do for the music. I work with my choreographer. She’s from Japan, and her name is Natsuki Miya,” Elyanna shares. “I love creating with her because she brings her culture, and I bring my culture, and we make them one … I always sense how much we have a lot of Japanese, sharp choreography, and yet we have that soft, sensual belly dance feeling. I love that combination.”


As Elyanna wraps a run of headlining performances, she’s shifting her focus to the release of her forthcoming debut album. She describes the record to Rolling Stone as “very risky and out there,” explaining that she gathered pieces from various styles and combined them into one even when it didn’t feel like the safe option.

“I feel like it’s a piece of art and I feel like it represents me a lot. I’ve only had two EPs in my life ever out, so this is the first album. It’s like my little cute baby,” she adds, detailing the time and consideration she spent on each moment. “Sometimes I wonder how people don’t care. When you’re an artist, it’s a commitment. You have to make sure that you take care of all of the things and all the sides. You’re representing your art and you have to make sure that it’s true to you so that people believe in it.”