Tasneem Elaidy

An Overnight TikTok Sensation

All aspiring musicians dream to “make it big!” and Tasneem Elaidy appears to be well on her way to achieving just that. eniGma’s Tymour Gazayerli chatted with the rising singer on the recent exciting journey to success.

or those not familiar with Elaidy, she started out on social media, releasing cover songs and original music to her 17k followers. She then decided to go on a music challenge on TikTok by sharing a different cover each day for 50 days. Little did she know that one of these covers would change her life forever!

It was on day 11 of her 50-day challenge that she released her version of Astronaut in the Ocean, originally by Masked Wolf. Normally, Elaidy would use instrumentals to support her angelic voice in her covers. This time, however, she got more creative and made a beat knocking on her closet. AND IT WENT VIRAL!

What followed was amazing. Not only did Masked Wolf reach out to her to perform it as a duet with him on TikTok, Elaidy also eventually released her own original take of the song and it landed atop most regional music charts! Today, she has a growing audience of nearly 2 million followers on Instagram, 3 million on TikTok and over 100 million combined views for her music!

Elaidy understands that with great success come great challenges. “Now that I have a fan base, I want to provide them with content they are interested in. I don’t want to be like the influencers who only post about their interviews or events they’ve attended. My fans are there for my music and that’s what I essentially want to offer them – good original music,” says Elaidy.

“Initially, I loved interacting with my fans. Back before my fame blew up, I would reply to every direct message and comment, which hovered around a couple of hundred every now and then. Recently though it’s been too overwhelming to do that with everyone, as my posts now receive over 10 thousand comments and I receive a few hundred direct messages a day! I still do interact with my fans and love it but I must keep it on a much smaller scale now,” she adds.

Referring to some negative comments she received, she goes on to note, “There had been a considerable amount of criticism, especially in the comments section of my posts, with the recurring message being: “respect your veil.” While I truly appreciate constructive criticism very much, I do not tolerate those who are just trying to be rude or mean and I choose not to devote any time to them. It isn’t good for me and it isn’t good for my image to engage with such negative behaviour. I know that with such a massive amount of engagement on my posts, not all of it will be positive all the time and that’s totally fine. I don’t expect everybody to love or support me.”

Elaidy has managed to power through the negativity and has come out the other end smiling AND with big news of a record deal with a major label! “Soon I’ll be signing with a record label, which I plan to announce very soon. I got a bunch of offers, both in and out of Egypt and I feel very strongly about the one I am leaning towards,” she exclaims.

Major record labels as well as the managers of Cardi B, Faouzia, Nicki Minaj and Adele are among those who reached out to Elaidy. However, she opted not to embark on her journey with these industry heavyweights just yet. “To do this requires a commitment that I know I am not ready to make yet. I’m still in my second year of university and to reach a deal with these guys would mean having to put my studies on hold and relocate to the UK. I would have to be globetrotting a lot to build my image while I still don’t know much about the industry,” she explains. Elaidy is, nonetheless, keeping in close contact and maintaining good relationships with those who’ve reached out to her, hoping to take them up on their offers later when she is ready for that adventure.

“The goal at the moment is to differentiate me from cover songs. That’s why I acquired the license to Astronaut in the Ocean and made it my own version and why I am currently focused on original music,” says Elaidy. “I was lucky to collaborate with such a seasoned producer as Galal Fahmy, who masterfully incorporated tabla and other oriental themes into the song to keep my music connected to my roots. Now, as I venture forward in my career, I aim to create original music telling my own story, as that was my hope from the very beginning,” she adds.

Elaidy is well aware that it really takes a team to produce truly great music, from writing the lyrics to music production, recording sessions and much more. “I have a team who helps guide me when it comes to songwriting, as I am not the savviest at it. I wrote the titular track, Blue Shirt, in a heartfelt moment. I basically came up with it on the spot; in the space of about an hour. I poured down all the feelings I experienced and that’s how Blue Shirt came about,” she exclaims, adding, “I’m very impatient when it comes to songwriting, I can’t imagine spending days or weeks writing music. That’s why my dedicated team and I discuss what we’re going for and what we want to achieve and they help build my songs with me. I’m still trying to learn how to do it because I really want to write songs that come from me.”

On her choice of singing in English rather than Arabic, Elaidy says, “I don’t plan to sing in Arabic. I do, however, want to remain close to my roots by incorporating oriental themes into my music. I like that I am offering people something new through this Middle Eastern twist.”

Elaidy has also been lucky to have a family that is fully supportive of her music career, especially since aspiring musicians in this part of the world usually contend with much scepticism. Thankfully, society is becoming more open-minded these days and there is also a greater understanding of the complexity behind a career in the music industry.
“I love how the stigma around being in the music industry is beginning to loosen up in Egypt,” says Elaidy. “If someone tells you they’re an engineer you’d never be fazed. However, saying you’re a musician brings about a certain taboo at times. I’m starting to see this less frequently now that people have begun to understand that being a musician is a real craft that is just as challenging as being an engineer or another similar profession,” she adds.

Elaidy concludes with some advice to others who may face challenges similar to hers, “I know this sounds cliché but it is best to focus more on those who love you or look up to you. The more you focus on those who aren’t looking out for you, you will let them affect your decisions and stop you from what you’re doing. And you don’t want to stop what you’re doing!”

Photography: Ahmed Abas