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Story / JoAnn Zhang 

Photos / Shervin Lainez 

Styling / Phil Gomez

MUA / Deney Adam 

Hair / Sean Bennett 

PA / Sam Berlin

Aliyah Bah— a.k.a Aliyah’s Interlude— seems to be one of those artists who just can’t miss. Her meteorically successful debut song “IT GIRL” went viral on TikTok in 2023, amassing over 100 million Spotify streams. With no shortage of online buzz, her second single “Fashion Icon” garnered close to two million streams. Few artists enjoy such meteoric success with their first works, but Aliyah’s no stranger to dominating popular culture; before she began releasing music, she was known to most as a niche fashion celebrity on TikTok, responsible for #Aliyahcore, a hybrid between Harajuku, rave, and punk aesthetics. Thus far, most interviews have centered on her vivacious persona and her creative modus operandi of unbridled confidence. With LADYGUNN, she digs into her path as a music artist, her self-love journey as a black woman and a target of bullying, and divulges details about her upcoming single “Love Me” (June 21) and her highly anticipated EP still in the works.  



You started off making humorous content on TikTok, then switched to more fashion focused content, and now you make a lot of music-related content. At the same time, you still make all three kinds of content. How do you balance and prioritize these three aspects of your social media presence?

Because of the way that I started, it’s not as hard to balance all three because I don’t think people are expecting me to ever do just one thing. That was one of my main goals when I started, to allow myself the freedom to do everything so that people don’t box me into one specific genre. Honestly, the content that I make is always true to myself and how I’m feeling on that particular day. And fashion is something that I’m truly passionate about and I have been passionate about since forever, and a lot of my music talks about that too— so they kind of just intertwine with each other.

With music, my first ever song was “IT GIRL,” and I’ve always said that an It Girl is somebody who is authentically themselves and shows up like that bitch every single time they pop out. That was the entire point of a #Aliyahcore in general. It just made so much sense because I’ve been talking about being an It Girl for so long, which played into fashion as well as music.

What is your musical background like? Was “IT GIRL” your first experience making music?

 I played the violin growing up for six years, so I know how to read music, and I’m classically trained. Even when I was younger, I used to be in theater classes; I took acting classes and we would sing. I’ve always done and been around lots and lots of music. But when I started going to the studio, I was actually in Atlanta. I went with some of my friends and we would just play around in the studio and make different songs. But I’ve been writing for so long and I think that’s one of my biggest strengths. 

The side of Aliyah we see online is always super high energy and confident. How do you maintain that, and how much of it is a created persona?

I am actually a very high energy person in particular— but I will say that when I make content, it’s when I feel like I have the energy to give my all. I’m not gonna get in front of a camera if I’m feeling horrible. If I’m not feeling [confident] inside, it would be wrong for me to express that on the outside. But I really love this happy, high energy because it makes everything more fun.

You often credit your success to your hard work and consistency. What does the daily grind look like for you?

I usually wake up around seven or eight every single day. And I plan out my days, usually before the week even starts. I like to know what I’m doing throughout the week. So this week, for example, I’m filming a lot of content, and then I have to work on some of the performances that I’m doing for Pride. I’m very much a consistent person and I think that consistency is the key to everything that you want in life. If I really want something, it’s gonna happen regardless because I work hard for it, period. And that’s just how I feel about everything. I think that anyone can achieve anything if they truly want it. If they work hard for it, it might take a minute, and it might cause lots of rejection in the process, but you just have to know your end goal and be passionate about the things that you do.

You’ve talked about how “IT GIRL” was a very do-it-yourself endeavor, with you sourcing a beat from YouTube. Now, with so much applause and two songs under your belt, how has your process of making songs changed? How about writing songs— do you still build your songs around an initial vibe or idea, as you did with your first songs?

It’s changed a lot because now I’ve been in the studio with different producers. And now when I make music, it’s a whole collaboration effort. I’ll go to the studio, and we’ll make a beat in a studio with a producer, and I’ll tell him, like, I really want a house beat, or this or that. 

The [songs], it’s just like when I wrote my first song. It’s really energy based and how I’m feeling on the day, but there’s a lot of times where I already have an idea of what I want to write down and ideas of what type of music I want to make. And that’s the outline from where I go. Usually I’m like, let me write the hook out. And let’s build a song around this. I’ve been trying so many different things recently.

Could you talk specifically about your process of coming up with and creating “Love Me”?

Oh my gosh, ”Love Me” was a song that really came about because as somebody who was on the internet from 17, that comes with a lot of strength, because you are subjected to people’s opinions 24/7. Within fashion, especially being a black woman, a dark skinned black woman, I feel I was forever and always really, really targeted and there’s been times where people, you could tell, really hated that you loved yourself. And the hook goes, “I really love me, have no doubt they tried to make me hate myself.” But I really love me type shit like, it’s really crazy how people have an issue when you don’t care what people think about you. That’s what the song is about. When I was writing it, I was like, I need to make music about loving myself because that’s the whole point of #Aliyahcore and the whole point of what I do in general.

Was your sort of ability to turn painful situations like this into something positive and strengthening intrinsic to you or was it something that you had to develop?

 No, it’s definitely something I had to develop. I was a very shy person growing up; I was always the girl who had two friends. I didn’t talk to nobody. I got bullied so much growing up, it was really really sick. But honestly, I think when I got to high school and when I got into fashion— and I think this is why I love fashion so much— it really was like an armor for me. When I started dressing and being and showing up as the person that I wanted to be, people started realizing that I don’t care about what they think. That grew my confidence and it made me realize that no matter what you’re wearing, or what you’re doing, people are gonna have something to say about you. So you might as well just do whatever the fuck you want to do.

Where does your name come from?

I’m actually named after the singer Aliyah. My mom was pregnant with me when she  passed away and they were really, really big fans of hers. And they told me that when they decided to name me, they kind of felt as if Aliyah and the stuff that she did on Earth was something that they would love for me to do too. 

And what about “ Aliyah’s interlude”? 

It’s really just a username. I actually found it from Snapchat when I was in ninth grade, actually. When I was in ninth grade, I remember this one girl I followed on Snapchat had a playlist on Apple Music, and she would update it weekly. And she would call it, [her name] interludes. I was like, wait, this is fire! I’m gonna use this as my username. 

Could you tell me more about how growing up with social media impacted you and your music making?

I think it impacted my music for sure— with YouTube, I’ve always looked at mixes on there like Azealia Banks mixed with Nicki Minaj. I remember when I would look stuff up, all these tight beats would come up, and I would listen to them. I was like, huh, I might need to hop on this real quick, but I used to do it for fun. When the time came to do [make songs], I was already familiar with all of these different things and remixing music, and being online. It was all familiar to me already.

Dress, KIM MESCHES. Earrings, SPARKLEBABYGEM. Shoes and Gloves, Stylist own.


Could you tell us about how you balance being online and staying grounded in real life?

It’s all about balance. The cool thing about social media is the fact that a lot of people that I meet on social media— that’s the thing people don’t be thinking— that people on social media actually exist in real life. Like when people say hate comments and all this stuff. It’s like, you know this is a real person, right? Like, I might have to catch you outside. The club is somewhere a lot of my mutuals on TikTok and Instagram go; they be at the club too! During the day, I make sure I get my shit done. I get my work completed. And then if I do, that’s when I go out to the club. I think that when you only focus on work, you kind of forget the point of living life. Especially summertime, you need to be outside, because in New York, once it hits below 40 degrees, people be inside, you’re not gonna see nobody outside. Balance can be getting shit done during the day, because when that night time comes, the girls will be outside for sure.

I feel like your style is very much online-coded. Have you been able to find a community in real life based around your style, the way you have online?

I meet a lot of people online, and I have a lot of mutual friends who have similar styles to me, and they’ll post events and stuff, and I’ll go to their events and there’ll be people that are dressed like me, and it’d be so cool. I’m also traveling the world, like I just came back from Japan. Going to the club I saw people and super alternative styles— it was a safe place. For a lot of people who dress like me, on the day to day when you outside, you are most definitely going to be one of the only people dressed how you dress, but when you go to the club, it’s like a community. It’s very much community, even these raves that I’ll be going to sometimes, like you finally have a place where you don’t feel like an outsider.

That theme of being yourself and being confident has been such a centerpiece of your music. So I want to know about your album that’s coming out later this summer— is it on the same themes?

It is that same theme, but we’re bringing in club and culture, we’re bringing in everything and more. It’s self love and having fun all in one bundle. 

What are the sounds we can look forward to in your next EP?

It’s very much house, very alternative. I don’t want y’all to expect anything that you’ve already heard, but I’ve actually already teased a lot of the music on my EP online. House, dance, ballroom vibe for sure. I wouldn’t say pop, but kind of leaning into that because it’s so fun. 

What were some of the influences in your upcoming album?

Ballroom culture. Watching the balls online, going to balls in real life. Hearing and experiencing that confidence, that energy, was one of my biggest influences, like, ever. Just like the club, the ballroom is a safe space for people who don’t get that very often. That was kind of what I wanted to embody in my next body of work— house culture, disco culture, music that makes you want to dance. 


On “Love Me,” it showcases your singing more than ever. Can we look forward to that in your album as well?

As I continuously go back to the studio more and more, I can truly hone my craft. Consistency is the key to success in every aspect, every genre, so I think as I’ve been going to the studio more and gaining confidence, I’ve been wanting to sing more and more! Growing up, I went to a Christian school, and we had a Christmas program, and I used to be singing down! I think because of everything else I’ve been doing, I just haven’t gotten into it. I’ve always wanted to be sitting up there and rapping and talking, but sometimes you need a cute little melody to get into shit! I love singing, and I’m going to do it more and more. 

Could you tell us more about your journey with self love and healing?

The biggest and corniest quote that everyone says but it’s so true, is that you cannot love anybody until you love yourself. It’s going to the root of your issues and finding out what really triggers you, what is the reason you act and react to certain situations this way? That was the easiest way for me to really heal and get into my self love bag. Lots of Shadow Work and asking myself these questions and you know, people really need to get into therapy. I never took to therapy because I took the time to discover myself, and I still need to go. But I think it’s really, really, really important to get your headspace and your mind space in check before you go after the things that you’re passionate about— it can be like one of the greatest first steps in [going after goals].

Was being online something that helped you along on your self love journey?

Most definitely. At first like when I was online it was very much peaches and cream, everybody loves Aliyah. But then as you start to get more recognition, you get also a lot more hate and it tests your self love and it asks, do you really love yourself when everybody else doesn’t love you too? You know what I mean? So it made me really sit down and analyze the type of person I was and it made me realize that I really am that bitch, because everyone’s got an opinion on me. But my opinion on myself is still that I am the most cunt bitch in the fucking world. It made me realize how much I love myself and it made me sit down and say more affirmations every single day, like you are that girl, like nobody’s ever seen anyone like you— it’s really getting into that self love bag and embodying it in every single way possible.

You’ve talked about receiving racist and colorist hate within fashion and online. Could you talk more about that? 

Colorism is a very big issue in the world. Even though I’ve been so successful with #Aliyahcore, a lot of the hate that I get, especially in fashion, was purely from a place of like— not many people have seen dark-skinned black women on this scale do what I have done within the fashion community. It’s like, who does she think she is? Why does she get the opportunity to do this? She doesn’t look like our typical role models. But I think with my music and everything I’ve done, the main focal point is that if y’all don’t make a seat at the table for me, I’m going to have to sit up here and build my own table. And y’all might be having a food fight throwing shit at me, but I’m going to sit down and take my spot within the industry. 

It also becomes hard because when you make mistakes, a lot of people have less grace for you. People don’t want to forgive you as much as they would your white counterpart, or your lightskin counterpart. I just take everything with a grain of salt, because I know everything is ignorance, and what people say is purely a projection of themselves. 

Look, TAOTTAO. Earrings, SEVILLE MICHELLE. Necklace, PB DESIGN. Gloves, Vintage, BLODA’S CHOICE. Shoes, PLEASERS.


Hat, PIPENCO. Necklace and Bracelet, PB DESIGN. Ring, DIOR.



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