Going with the flow: UAE singer Michele on latest single Sea In Your Eyes
Dubai-based Lebanese singer Michele teams up with Jay Wud for new single
Can you believe a whole year has passed since we last dropped in on one of Dubai’s most exciting singers, Michele? How time flies! Back then the Lebanese artist, who had moved to the UAE to be a food and beverage industry consultant three years previous, was celebrating her debut EP, Our Story. The four-track journey was described as a ‘love epic’ and made waves with domestic and international airplay. Now we return to speak to the performer who cannot only boast a number of live concerts in the last 12 months, but a new musical direction with latest single Sea In Your Eyes. Where Michele’s previous releases have largely been neo-soul and RnB in nature, this output is said to be a more alternative track, drawing on sentimental feelings surrounding nationality. The song follows the oceanic analogy, building from a calm and gentle start before surging and swelling into the chorus with pulsing drums and fizzing melodies. And that sense of flow, of ups and downs, is also represented in the lyrics. But who better to let us in on the creation than Michele herself?
What does Sea in Your Eyes mean to you and why did you write it?
It was written based on my love and hate relationship with a place: Lebanon. But I didn’t want to stress on that because I want each listener to interpret it the way they want to interpret it, and think about a person or a place that comes to mind when they listen to it. The whole process of creating it was quite smooth, there were no struggles because it really came from the heart, both from mine and Jay’s (the song’s producer) experiences and thoughts towards the country.
You have mentioned the sound is experimental — how so?
I think it’s experimental because it’s the first time I’ve dabbled in this kind of sound. The type of music I usually make is quite mellow, soft, not a lot of drums and instruments. I like to keep it simple and clean. The instrumental part on this one that sounds a bit more like a dubstep or electronic track means the song cannot be boxed. If anything, it mixes styles together which is why I like to label it as experimental, but what are labels right?
How was it working with Jay Wud? What do you believe you both brought to the track?
Working with Jay was great, such a smooth and easy process and we got along very well. He understood my sound and I understood his and we kind of met halfway so there are influences from his world and my world that made the song a chaotic and beautiful mess.
How have the last 12 months been in the UAE?
I don’t know if it feels like more than a year or less, I have completely lost all sense of time. It has been both good and bad, a lot of ups and downs, a lot of new experiences, thankfully a lot more adventures than the year before which really inspired a lot of upcoming tracks. In the entertainment industry, I was part of the Blank Space event back in November and had a Fridge Concert just last week. It was dreamy. The Fridge team was amazing at organising everything, making sure that on the day everything was set up and ready to go. It took us around five hours to set up everything so that it went perfectly. And it did, I’m still processing that it happened to be honest.
How does being based in the UAE help with your career?
The first thing I always say is the mix of cultures. I found myself being more open to listening to different genres of music from different cultures and parts of the world and region and I love learning from them. The opportunities that also come forward are great opportunities. I feel like every day something new comes up: a project, an initiative from people who live here and are passionate about music that it gives us artists more and more opportunities to reach people.
We’ve just passed the year anniversary of the Beirut blast. With this song in part a tribute to your home country, how do you believe music can help?
I honestly don’t know how I feel towards Lebanon anymore. I’m obviously devastated by what’s happening there but I don’t know how hopeful I am. I think music can definitely help in a way by raising awareness to what’s happening or by being a channel of expression for the Lebanese people and artists.
Looking back on your last EP, Our Story, what are your thoughts on its success?
I love how my sound has evolved and, with the EP being my first body of work, I’m very proud as to how it started. It received a great response from listeners.
How do you believe you will evolve your sound and music further?
I’m not done experimenting, so I might make an afro beat type of song or an Arabic song tomorrow. Who knows? But there is always one sound that will influence my music in some way and that’s jazz and soul. All I know is that every track I release, I want it to be better than the one before or very different — I want to keep listeners on their toes so they wonder what’s next. One thing I don’t want to be is repetitive.
What for you has been the most interesting recent development in local/ Middle Eastern music?
I love what is happening in Egypt at the moment. I don’t usually listen to Arabic music but I’m finding myself listening to Arabic rap sometimes, like Marwan Moussa’s Sheraton. I know that Arabic pop is also becoming a thing. I’m not sure how I feel about it yet, though, but I love how it’s involving and gaining traction.
What are your hopes for the next year?
That we will stop wearing masks. I wouldn’t say no to more upcoming performances and shows too.
How close are you to touring abroad?
I’m actually planning a Euro tour with my manager right now and hopefully next summer I’ll be off.
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