Wafia Al-Rikabi makes brooding electronic-pop with a soulful delivery as WAFIA. A Netherlands-born, Brisbane, Australia-based musician of Arab descent, she had an intercontinental upbringing before beginning to write songs as a break from pre-med studies at university. In the summer of 2014, she uploaded the song ‘Let Me Love You,’ and it accumulated millions of plays. Named for the atomic number of copper expressed in Roman numerals, her debut EP, “XXIX,” was released in 2015 by Future Classic, home of electronic artists such as Flume and Chet Faker (Nick Murphy). She followed it a year later with a collaborative EP with labelmate Ta-ku called “(m)edian.” Listen to her most recent release on Louis the Child’s new single, ‘Better Not,’ embedded below.
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SunCity Paradise: Kicking it off with the country you’re currently living in, Australia. What really stands out and makes it special to you? Where would you send a first-time visitor to get a real sense of the land?
Wafia: What I love about Australia is that it’s really as laid-back as it appears, which makes it a great place to be able to come home to and recharge. I tend to be more drawn to the tropics, so any of Australia’s waterfalls or beaches are my recommendations.
SCP: What was your first real exposure to music? How did you get inspired to create your own and eventually pursue it as a career?
W: Music has always been the constant in my life, I think it might have been Sister Act 1 & 2 which then lead me to Lauryn Hill’s album. Throughout college I started writing music and it wasn’t till I finished that my dad in particular encouraged me to jump into it.
SCP: To create music, and traveling to promote it, must be such a feeling. What’s the most impactful and meaningful part you cherish about it? Does the travel help inspirationally?
W: Meeting the people! It’s always such a pleasure to reconnect and meet new faces of people who like the music. Travel helps a lot with inspiration, because it’s a good excuse to be in your own head a lot and that’s when I tend to collect the most ideas.
SCP: You most recently were featured on Louis the Child’s new single ‘Better Not.’ Describe what it was like to be on that track. How has it been received since it released?
W: It’s been really incredible. The response has been so kind and enormous, especially seeing all the dance videos that have come from it. Nothing is more encouraging than seeing art inspire other artists.
SCP: How does music and travel complement and go hand-in-hand with each other?
W: Personally, certain albums have soundtracked particular trips/tours for me, and when I listen to those albums I can’t help but me immediately taken back to the place I was when I first heard it.
SCP: When searching for a personal getaway, are you looking for a serene beach or after a more active, adventurous getaway? Why?
W: More serene! When I’m in a place to tour, it’s usually pretty fast paced and intense. So, if I get the chance to go back and visit on my own terms then it’s something I want to take savor and take slow.
SCP: One of our core objectives at SCP is to bring people together while traveling, not only to influence people to see and appreciate our beautiful world, but to also minimize cross-cultural divides. What effect does traveling, specifically surrounding music, have on humans in this regard? How has it broadened your perspective of the world?
W: I think when you’re talking about minimizing cross-cultural divides, then music is a terrific way to do it. You don’t have to speak German to connect with people in a techno club in Germany, and you don’t have to speak Spanish to connect with musicians in Cuba. We have more in common with each other than we do differences, and when you start from there, it’s pretty easy to connect.
SCP: Everyone has a list of places that they still have to hit. What are a few destinations, either work or pleasure, that you need to see? Why?
W:Galapagos for one; I sat next to a women on a flight once that did a lot of snorkeling, and ever since she told me I needed to snorkel in the Galapagos I’ve felt an undeniable urge. Second and third would have to be my parents homelands of Syria and Iraq. It feels wrong to never have been to Iraq, but to identify with it so much.