Emerging Talent Comp winner, Emirati singer FAFA, talks UAE music
One of the UAE's leading musicians
The Emirati-Honduran musician's second single has just dropped
YASALAM'S EMERGING TALENT Competition (ETC) has become a huge annual attraction in and around the Abu Dhabi Formula One race as a result of the skillful performers it attracts and the drams that are fulfilled. The contest encourages the best and the brightest to enter for a chance to take to the stage during the Grand Prix festivities and perform live in front of thousands of people. Sounds good, right? It did for Emirati-Honduran singer and songwriter Fafa, who not only participated in 2018, but won the whole thing along with a chance to take to the Village stage at the After-Race Concerts ahead of the Guns N'Roses concert to an audience of almost 20,000 people.
Shortly after Fafa's first single, Runnin' (Can't Stop Me), still available on all streaming platforms, was released and is about self-motivation. Her second single Toxic Love, released last month, talks about the struggle of moving away from a bad relationship. The song's message is about self-realisation, self-love and knowing when to leave a negative environment to better yourself.
With the ETC currently looking for 2019 applicants, we thought we'd talk to Fafa about her career and how winning the comp has helped forward her rise to stardom.
Can you describe your journey into becoming a musician from early influences, to entering the Emerging Talent Competition?
I was born in the UAE and Abu Dhabi is my home. I was heavily influenced by Disney classics and musicals growing up. I moved to Chicago to study and learned more about hip hop and how rappers express themselves in their genre of music. Coming back to the UAE, I dove deeper into developing my sound and music, doing open mics and signing up to competitions to meet other musicians.
What made you enter the competition, how did it feel to win and what advice do you have for this year's entrants?
I entered the competition because I wanted to challenge myself creatively and also meet other musicians in the scene. For this year's entrants I would say be yourself and showcase who you are.
Tell us about Runnin' (Cant Stop Me) and more recently Toxic Love. What is the message behind both songs and what else do you have coming out this year?
Runnin' is about doing the best you can even if failure seems to keep knocking at your door. I was at a point where nothing seemed to be going right in life so I wrote the song to motivate and remind myself I can do anything I set my mind to.
Toxic Love is about realising you're bad situation and you have the power to move away from it. It's initially about a toxic relationship but as I went deeper I found that I was the cause of my unhappiness and I had to own up to that. It's easier to blame other people for your situation or how you're feeling but I feel that we all have the power to control how we react to situations and move forward. Toxic Love is more about self realisation than anything.
What is your ultimate career ambition? If you had the chance to duet with anyone who would it be and why?
To share my songs and the importance of self love and mental health awareness with as many people as I can. If I had a chance to duet with anyone I think it would have to be Khalid. I really love the way he sings and I love the way his songs are written.
What was it like performing at last year's Yasalam? What was your stand-out memory? Were you nervous?
It was great! I love performing on stage so I loved being a part of that. I get happy nervous if that makes sense? I really enjoyed meeting the other musicians and talking with the mentors.
Do other aspiring musicians reach out to you? Do you have a message for them we can convey?
I do get other musicians reaching out to me time to time. I love the dialogue because it's full of energy and creativity. I love seeing people own who they are and show it through their art.
What is the best bit of advice you have ever received?
Best advice I received was to be myself and work on my craft. Not to compare myself to others as everyone is at a different place in their journey.
If you had to sum up what singing meant to you in one sentence, how would that phrase go?
Singing is the best way I know how to communicate.
Follow Fafa and listen to her music on Instagram at @fafa.music
ETC registrations are open from now until September 30. Info can be found at www.yasalam.ae/etc2019.
Fafa's second single is out
One to watch - Fafa's career on the rise