Slyrex: The Music and The Image

When I called Slyrex for our interview he was sitting in his bedroom, which also happens to be where he makes most of his music. The Norman-based R&B artist said he finds it easiest to record in the early mornings when the mind starts making strange connections. Those hazy-minded connections are sewn together in his contemplative lyrics and dark sound. 

Even before he started recording, Slyrex was writing poetry and short stories. That literary practice is apparent in his mosaic-like songs which stitch together past relationships and attractions with nostalgia and the fear of growing up. 

“I’m not the most cerebral about it,” Slyrex said humbly about his writing process. 

Humble is a good way to describe this talented artist who spoke honestly about the journey of honing his skills. 

“I’ve very much been learning in front of people,” Slyrex said of singing, admitting that part of learning is also fucking up. “It’s getting better now…I’ve been learning very publicly.” 

Improving his singing and learning to produce were just half the battle. Curating an image is also part of the work. “That’s probably been one of the hardest things to learn,” he said. “All processes, all art forms, all brand management has really transitioned to social media in a big way.”

Slyrex listened to 50 Cent, T.I., and Lil Wayne when he was younger. “I didn’t know it then—I thought it was strictly the music that was moving me, but I was influenced by the image just as much,” he said.

Now as an artist himself, Slyrex is trying to do the same. “I'm learning how to tell a story with the presentation and the way it's packaged.” Slyrex said. “But it's definitely not first nature.”

When asked what he sought to portray with his image, Slyrex answered that he just wanted to be the best vehicle he could for the music.

To help with the work of image-making, Slyrex has his brother, Ben Tefera who directs many of his stunning music videos. 

Creativity clearly runs in their blood; it’s on display in music videos like Eros (2020, directed by Slyrex) and Couture & Wine (2020, directed by Ben Tefera) where images bleed together as in a fever dream - which happens to be the name of another Slyrex song

“I'm happy with all the videos,” Slyrex said. “When they're rough around the edges, or you can kind of see the DIY aspects, it gives people more of an appreciation for it, because you can kind of see the person on the other side through the cracks.” 

This dichotomy between Slyrex the artist and Slyrex the performer peaking through the cracks of his work is one he’s had to struggle with. Now, he is balancing being open and vulnerable in his art with a very real need for privacy. 

“I wanted to have a clear separation between who I was as a person and the kind of art that I was making,” Slyrex explained. “Sometimes when you do art it is just to experiment with form, sometimes it's to take on identities or present things. But music— intrinsically people see it as autobiographical.”  

The fruits of Slyrex’s creative labor are on display in his latest album Call of the Void. The songs float in a moody matrix, pulling you into the shadowy sounds Slyrex croons over. 

Follow Slyrex on instagram @slyrex for updates on his upcoming projects, music and videos.