Dubai singer Neha Pandey to release new Arabic track
Her song 'Ya Weli' was shot in Dubai, a city that continues to inspire her.
Dubai-based singer and performer Neha Pandey is back with a new original Arabic track, Ya Weli, after the successful release of Mashgool (the Arabic version of her hit Busy, Busy) in July 2019.
Neha’s music career has seen many milestones since she came into the spotlight two decades ago upon winning Zee TV’s national contest in the indie pop category and being a finalist on Channel V’s Popstars.
While the road to success in any field is never smooth, Neha worked hard to balance her personal and professional life over the years but never gave up on her passion which is music, and continued to expand her horizons, whether it was to be part of bands and collaborations, record new and innovative tracks, or shoot unique music videos.
During our last interaction with the charming singer in December 2020, she filled us in on Yaad Aayi, a new Hindi track that was shot partly underwater and featured stunning visuals.
Neha, who made her Bollywood singing debut in 2017 with Humdard from the film Dobaara, is once again pushing her limits in the music world with Ya Weli, an inspiring song about love for which she had to put in a lot of extra effort and practice considering Arabic is not her native tongue.
We chatted with Neha about her latest track which will release on Friday, October 15.
You must be excited for your upcoming release, Arabic song Ya Weli. What inspired you to record this song? What can you tell us about the team behind it?
Ya Weli is another labour of love of mine. It was made with lot of care and respect for Arab culture, which is reflected in the video too. My passion for singing in Arabic and above all the respect I have for Arabic as a language is evident.
I wanted to make another song in Arabic after Mashgool (Arabic version of my track Busy Busy) out of pure love, even though learning the language has been a challenge for me. Otherwise, music has no boundary in terms of language. Hence, I created this song in Dubai with an Arab team. The song is produced by Nikon MEA.
What can you tell us about Ya Weli and the music video?
Ya Weli is an Arabic expression meaning ‘oh gosh’. The song is all about the love and passion of one woman towards the love of her life, which could be herself (self-love), as is depicted through the music video. She is every woman. The video is shot in Dubai. It was a two-day shoot, wherein various Dubai locations have been featured including Bab Al Shams resort, outdoor desert areas (highlighting the spirit of the country which is essentially a desert) as well as some studio shots.
This is your second original Arabic release after the Arabic version of Busy, Busy. Do you feel your singing in the language has improved with practice? What is the main challenge of singing in a language that’s not your own?
Yes! I feel it improves every time. Because the more we sing in a certain language, the more we practice and the better we become, and we take a step towards perfection. Practice makes a woman perfect!
The biggest challenge then lies in not really understanding the meaning of the words, which can affect the feeling and honesty of the song. That is crucial to me as an artist. The ability to render each word with the right expression so it seeps into your soul, is important. Therefore, the challenge is not just learning the diction correctly (as much as possible) but to be able to have the right expressions because that’s where even a music producer cannot help an artist.
Time-wise, it depends upon an individual and passion towards the art. If one is fully involved in a project, things happen. It is not just the hard work but the ‘heart’ work here.
As a singer based in the UAE for a long time, you have been exposed to many forms of music because of the growing multi-cultural community here. How has that inspired you?
I am blessed to have experienced such diversity and rich cultures, and the opportunity to meet the entire world in one place. Dubai definitely has made me go beyond my comfort zone and not feel restricted.
It inspired me to hone my creativity, challenge myself creatively on this journey with no boundaries, with tolerance, innovation, and passion. It also inspired my belief that anything is possible if you put your heart into it. Just like Dubai has taught the world that anything is possible if your intention is right.
What can you tell us about your upcoming projects and performances?
I’ll be working on a Sufi project right after Ya Weli releases. It’s a completely different musical zone.
Expo 2020 Dubai is ongoing. Have you visited any of the pavilions? As a long-term expat what are your thoughts on this vibrant event being held in the UAE?
I am yet to visit Expo 2020 Dubai. My song launch and work has kept me very tied up but I will be visiting post the launch.
Expo 2020 Dubai is amazing. I did watch the breathtaking opening ceremony. Only the UAE can pull something off as magnificent as this. Expo 2020 Dubai is a sign of the UAE’s resilience and belief - never give up! The country has given hope and opportunities to people, as we battled the pandemic wisely.
Are you happy with the progress in your musical career? What are your goals?
I have progressed at my own pace without putting any pressure on myself, given the different roles that I play in my life. It has been a tough journey but a progressive one. I am happy, as I have achieved what is meant for me. The future is exciting, and I’m looking forward to new projects.
Short takes with Neha Pandey
Favourite Arabic track
Helwa Ya Baladi - I did a cover too of this evergreen song. Amr Diab’s songs like Ya Lili (featuring Hamouda) and Enta El Hayat.
Favourite Arabic singer
I respect so many but have been stuck on Amr Diab for years.
Favourite memory of performing in the UAE
Every time I performed at cricket matches in Sharjah Stadium.
Best concert you’ve been to in the UAE
A tough one but I did love the Madonna and Beyonce concerts on Yas Island years ago. They are true performers. Among Indian singers it has to be Sonu Nigam.
Dream collaboration would be with...