Cool, calm, ethereal and eclectic.
WAFIA is the latest guest that we’ve had the opportunity of interviewing as part of our ‘After Dark Adventures’, and I feel like those four words (above) describe exactly what the Brisbane youngster might be like in person.
Based on her music alone, those four words also describe the kind of vibes that I feel when I listen to the songs she creates. WAFIA gained massive acclaim and exposure last year, when she featured on Japanese Wallpaper’s ‘Breathe In’ and now, she’s starting to carve her own path as she is busy in the studio, working on her second EP.
The 21-year-old singer took time out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions about all things music-related.
1. Introduce yourself.
My name is Wafia Al-Rikabi and I’m a 21 year old musician who makes music under the moniker, WAFIA.
2. How and when did you first get into music?
I always sang in school as a kid but I didn’t really start making music till my final year of university. At the time, I only did it to stay creative and help deal with the pressure of my degree.
3. You’re still quite young and new to the industry, yet you’ve already received some high praise and even appeared on the soundtrack (with Japanese Wallpaper) for Zach Braff’s Kickstarter film, “Wish I Was Here”, which in turn, had everyone around the world fall in love with your vocals on ‘Breathe In’.
How does it feel to be recognised for your music so early into your career?
Haha, it’s insane. I distinctly remember writing and recording my vocal line in about 20 minutes all up – I loved the track but I had a really hard time thinking of what to write for it. It all sort of fell into place in the end but at the time I wasn’t happy with it because it was so ‘simple’ and I’d never written anything that simple before, but I knew it was enough – that is just worked. I recall telling myself “not to worry because not many people will hear this – do with it what you will” so essentially it’s been kind of funny and strange that this little piece I expected nothing from is what I’m most known for at the moment.
4. You recently covered Mario’s ‘Let Me Love You’ which recently hit #1 on HypeMachine, but you were still a kid in primary school when the song was originally released in 2004! Why did you choose to revive that particular song?
‘Let Me Love You’ has been one of the few songs that I love today with the very same intensity as the first time I heard it. It’s been the song I turn to almost every time I hum, warm up, work out, study, dance – It’s just been a favourite of mine for as long as I can remember. I didn’t ever really think I’d release a cover but I was in the studio with my producer Jack Vanzet (AKA Thrupence) and as usual I was sort of humming it under my breath, when Jack started playing the chords to the song on his keyboard. We recorded it just for fun – it wasn’t meant to be anything but it came together so nicely that it felt like we just had no choice but to share it online.
5. You’re currently working on your second EP – what can you tell us about it and how will it compare to your first?
I’m really excited about it! I can tell you that Jack will be producing it, and one track will feature John Castle’s production in it also. Andrei Eremin is on board for mixing and mastering too. It will differ from my first EP but I think it’s a natural progression. Personally, I think in the two years since my first EP, I’ve finally been able to create the sounds I’ve been working towards and having Jack on board has made it a reality. It’s different but my vocals are still me and the lyrics are still mine too.
6. Who do you look up to and aspire to as an artist?
Sia. I adore pop music and she does it so well. Her song writing style is so distinct too, it’s a quality I can only aspire to possess. Anyone who can collaborate with Flo Rida and still maintain their credibility is a hero to me.
7. What’s the last song you heard that moved you emotionally?
Sam Smith’s ‘Leave Your Lover’. I think it speaks for itself.
8. What is the difference between the music you create and the music that you listen to?
Previously there was a big gap between what I was making and what I listen to, but these days I’ve been bridging that gap. At the moment I (think I) make folk-infused R&B with hints of downtempo electronica and I bring in my favourites part of each of those genres.
Though to be fair I’ve been listening to a lot of (90’s) hip-hop at the moment so the only way I could make my music complete would be if MF Doom or Kanye West had a verse on a track. That would be the dream.
9. Pay it forward: What’s the best advice you’ve received that you would happily share with others?
I’ve been lucky enough to have received a lot of great advice but the one that springs to mind at the moment would have to be Matt Corby telling me “cut the bullshit”. At the time it was in reference to feeling creatively blocked/exhausted but now I’ve learnt it applies to absolutely everything.
10. What’s next for WAFIA?
Loads of new music, a few surprise collaborations, and maybe a tour or two.