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WHAT’S UP | WAFIA

We caught up with Wafia to speak about language, identity and cafe recommendations.

When and where did you start singing?

I started singing at a really young age in the Netherlands. I just did it as a past time and never really thought about it until recently.

Your music has taken off quickly, what was it like suddenly jumping into the spotlight?

It make me feel really scrutinised, but I feel really blessed that my music has done well over the last year. I’ve really enjoyed it, but it’s also really made me realise that family comes first, and this year has been all about that, so it’s been really cool to get that perspective so early on.

What drives you to write music?

I am driven to write music by the fact… I’m trying to think how to put this… I’m driven to write by necessity, I think. Rather, I just can’t imagine not doing it. It’s like one of these ways emotions come around I feel like I have the address them in song because it’s the only way I know how to process things. I find my songwriting comes in waves, and sometimes I just don’t know how to deal with something until I write about it.

You’ve done some amazing collab stuff with Japanese Wallpaper and Ta-ku – is it the same sort of drive working with other people?

Collaboration is really important – whether on mine or on someone’s project it always feels like its one, because they’re always people I’d work with on my own, such as Taku, or Ben Abraham.  I find it seamless transitioning between my own work, and I guess what others might call collaborations or features.

As a Dutch-Arabic girl growing up in Brisbane, did you find it hard to find your identity?

Yeah, I still find it hard. Finding my identity in Brisbane has been hard because I guess there aren’t that many people who identify with me or are similarly minded. Growing up has always been a struggle. Not that bad, but I’ve always felt like a black sheep, and never really felt like I belonged anywhere.

Are you multilingual at home?

I am multi lingual, I speak Arabic, Dutch and English.

I find sometimes languages have words or phrases that don’t really translate well into other, do you find being a polyglot helps you express yourself?

Speaking different languages and being from different cultures means that I have more experiences to touch on as a writer. Especially in the Arabic language there is much more in terms of connecting to feelings, and that’s a bit easier to express than in English. Sometimes just a particular sound that has a word to it, and that is a whole emotion in itself. My Arabic heritage has given me so many things I never thought I’d experience if I just came from the western world.

There’s a lot of noise about under-representation of women in music, is that something you’ve had to deal with?

I think under-representation of women in music impacts every women. I mean, power to the women that are doing it. I can only do what I’m doing and hope that it inspires young girls – particularly women of colour – I feel like that’s another part of it that also needs more representation. That’s really important to me because that’s how I identify. For example my little sisters don’t really have that many Australian women of colour to look up to, so that’s what drives me I guess.

And do you have a restaurant recommendation?

It’s not a restaurant, it’s a cafe, but Shouk in Paddington. It’s a small little cafe that does Israeli and Middle Eastern cuisine. Their food is the best, that would be it.

Thank you so much

No, thank you so much

Interview — Christopher Cohen
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Chris Cohen

Music and event photographer, because who doesn't like to party? Instagram: @chriscohenphotography