Emirati artist Fafa channels heartbreak in Abu Dhabi-shot Tree Of Flames

She reveals the process of shooting the video with many UAE-based talents.

by Enid Grace Parker

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Photos: Supplied
Photos: Supplied

Published: Wed 5 Jan 2022, 12:31 PM

Last updated: Wed 5 Jan 2022, 5:58 PM

“The best way I can explain myself and express exactly how I feel is through music,” young Emirati singer-songwriter Fafa told City Times in a conversation about her recent track, Tree Of Flames. Inspired by a “bad break-up”, Tree of Flames - recorded, shot and produced at The BarCoe Studio in Abu Dhabi - is an obviously heartfelt song which UAE-based film director Shiva Kojaki felt deserved an appropriately unique video to convey the intensity of its emotions.

She suggested the idea of a human romancing a mythical creature, which Fafa loved. We asked her why she believed this visual storyline suited her song about heartbreak.

“The mystical creature is part of another world that man seeks. The creature is a pure, innocent and trusting soul whose energy is magnetic to be around. The man sees the elf as a prize to be won, a quest to conquer. Once he attains the power he sought out, he gets bored and ultimately starts looking for another quest. In the process, he still sees the elf as his possession so he manipulates the elf to stay and to keep trusting him and to keep sucking out the elf’s energy and power.”

The music of heartbreak

Fafa, who counts vocal powerhouses Amy Winehouse, Whitney Houston and Etta James among her favourite artists, was hoping for a catharsis of sorts through this track. “I thought the person was my entire world only to find out I didn’t really know him at all. Afterwords, I tried to move on but he kept contacting me. So if he didn’t get the message then, I sure hope he does now.”

We know how an artist like Winehouse left us incredibly emotional when she belted out melancholic tunes like Love Is A Losing Game and Tears Dry On Their Own. But music while conveying heartbreak and loss can be inspiring as well, allowing you to shed your old self and emerge as a new person.

It is this kind of transformation that Tree of Flames showcases through its video, shot across several locations in Abu Dhabi. Fafa shared, “The magnetic energy that the elf starts off with starts to fade because the human consumed all of it from his greed. She still loved the human, so she stayed and endured until she was left with no energy of her own. At this point she is left alone and starts reflecting on the actions of the human rather than his words and she finds herself gravitating back to her roots, the tree. She had to start anew and became more powerful, letting the human go, to never see him again.”

Tree Of Flames which was shot through several challenges in the summer month of July brought together UAE-based talent for makeup, design and film direction, and more. Among the local talent was Nik Nieves, cast as the self-absorbed male lead in the video.

Bringing UAE talent together

Fafa said it was "incredible working with many talented UAE based creatives."

"The directors, videographers and crew made the video perfect both from a technical and aesthetic perspective. The BarCoe Studio selected several locations including an apartment and Umm Al Emarat Park (I looked like a Disney character walking through the park). The entire process took two days; we spent 22 hours on set the first day, and 6 hours the next day. I’m incredibly proud of the entire team for their work ethic and creativity.”

Fafa said she’s proud of the video which she hopes sends out a message of healing and strength. “I hope whoever hears the song finds solace and possibly the answer to their question about a partner who may not be the best for them. I hope people feel empowered.”

The artist who writes her own songs and is pursuing a Master’s Degree in Songwriting and Production at Berklee College of Music at the Power Station in New York, is currently on a musical mission of "empowerment" and "self-love.”

“My messaging changes with my journey as a person,” she told us.

She added, "The highlight of my career has been collaborating and learning different creative processes from my fellow classmates and my professors. I had no idea what to expect from coming to this program but I know it’s going to shape the way I approach and produce my music."

Opening up on her favourite singers and genres, she said, “Oooo. I love them (Winehouse, James and Houston) so much it's unreal. I’m a huge fan of their writing styles and the way they move people with their voices. I listen to a wide variety of genres, you never know what might inspire you!”

Onwards and upwards

Fafa’s music career has been on the upswing since she won the Yasalam Emerging Artist Competition in 2019 and performed at the Formula One Event in Abu Dhabi. She also did back-up vocals for artists like Bobby McFerrin, has performed in several US cities, and was the opening act for the Bruno Mars concert in UAE. A high school graduate from Chicago, her blues-style vocals have been inspired by her multicultural surroundings and international travels.

How does she feel about UAE as a growing hub for artists across creative fields?

“I think the music scene is growing and flourishing in the most beautiful way. Places like The BarCoe Studio are supporting locally based artists to create, produce and pursue their artistic ambitions. It makes me so happy to see other hardworking musicians whose music deserve huge platforms. I have great respect for the UAE and the leaders for being such supporters of the arts, we are only going up from here.”

Fafa who has released singles like Toxic Love, Runnin’ (Can’t Stop Me) has a new one out called I’m Alive, whose lyric video is now available on YouTube. “I’m Alive is such a beautiful song that I wanted everyone to focus on the words and message behind the song. Enjoy!”

Concluding our chat with her takeaways as a musician amidst the ongoing pandemic, she said, “My biggest lesson and takeaway is to be patient with myself and to not be so hard on myself when I haven’t achieved the things I sought out for. Self-care has definitely become more of a priority and learning to turn down opportunities in favour of taking care of my health first.”

Enid Grace Parker

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