In recent years, there has been a massive growth in the underground music scene in Kuwait. One of the women at the forefront of this scene is young singer/songwriter Fai. Short for, Faiza, her music stems from her background in all things art. Born into a diplomatic household and essentially a citizen of the world, she has found inspiration and creativity all over and is ready to release the product of her experiences in her debut single, “Comet,” which is set to be released on August 20th.
Becky Friedan: Congrats on your new single! How long has this project taken? What was the process like?
Fai Music: Thank you so much! The thing that most people don't understand about the music industry is how slow it is. It’s taken me around two years to finally release something because you never know what to release first. “Comet” was interesting because I had written it by myself in November in the span of 20 minutes. I sent my producer, Jacob Moumjian, the demo as soon as I had written it and we recorded everything a few weeks later. For a while we thought the song was finished, but I randomly had this vision of a “Mayer-esque” guitar solo filling out the empty sound pockets, so I enlisted the help from a great guitarist, Omar Salem, and the finished product is what you hear now!
B.F.: You’ve previously said that “you never know what to release first,” so what made you feel like your latest release, Comet, was the right song to debut with?
F.M.: Songwriting is an interesting thing, especially when you’re so new to it. A lot of it is just purging out the bad songs until you get to the good ones. But even when you have a decent song, in my case, the choice comes from the overall vibe and feeling you’re trying to convey. I felt like Comet was the perfect song because it embodies the idea of love so effortlessly. Lyrical value matters a lot to me as well, and lyrically it is my favorite song I’ve ever written. I am also not one of those artists that can revisit fragmented old songs and piece them together with newer ideas at a later date. If a song flows out in under an hour, I take it as a sign from the universe that it was meant to be. Art is expression, and if you're being honest and true, I believe it flows out easily.
B.F.: Is there a specific vibe you try to create? Or topics you like visiting when writing?
F.M.: Songs that artists create are the soundtrack to their lives. I always want my music to reflect the experiences I’ve gone through, or to capture an idea of what my brain thinks about in its downtime. As for a vibe, I like music that is oozing with passion and written value. I tend to write about my feelings and the images I idealize in my head when I’m daydreaming. More times than not, writing these songs ends up becoming a therapy session for me. It forces you to see your life as a scene in a movie and it can put everything into perspective.
B.F.: When did you realize you wanted to pursue music?
F.M.: Art was all around me growing up. My dad loved Rumi and symphonic music. My sisters were all very “deep” and into indie bands and drawing, so I naturally gravitated towards the arts. I wasn’t very academically gifted, but when I started taking part in choir and school plays, my grades went up. Looking back now, I realize that the reason my grades improved so much is because I wouldn’t have been allowed to take part in those extracurriculars if my grades were slipping. So subconsciously, before I even knew it, I was doing everything just to be able to create art. I never really had to decide, it was a matter of accepting that I could never be happy unless I was making music.
B.F.: What musicians and what, in general, inspires you?
F.M.: Life. There are artists who sit at home and create beautiful work, but I have to be out there, experiencing things to be able to write. Musically, I worship the works of Joni Mitchell, Fleetwood Mac, and Led Zeppelin. Oddly enough, my first love was rock n roll. I’ve also always loved Taylor Swift and have recently been getting into artists like Maggie Rogers, Harry Styles, and Conan Gray.
B.F.: How would you describe the music you create?
F.M.: I’d say it’s a fusion of classic singer/songwriter pop with elements of folk with a sprinkle of melancholy. I am still finding my creative niche, so it’s all over the place production wise. At its core, however, they’re always written like folk songs. Comet is the first love song i’ve written, but I do have a lot of deeper, more sentimental songs coming out soon!
B.F.: What is the music scene like in 2020?
F.M.: There is a sort of musical renaissance happening now, not just here but all over the world. Stylistically, there has been a shift away from the traditional approach to writing and you see the use of more digitized sounds in all music. Bedroom pop is taking over the world, with people having access to simple home studios and leaving their mark. It’s difficult for me because I think I’m still figuring out how to integrate old writing styles with modern trends/soundscapes, but it is great to see so much art being made.
B.F.: How has the global pandemic changed making music?
F.M.: Honestly, it has shown me how collaboration can work even when we’re confined to our bedrooms. You always hear about producers getting flown out to work in a cabin in the middle of Montana, but it’s cool to see us thriving in our own little safe havens, but still coming together and making some amazing music. More people have been willing to work as well, so that’s always a bonus.
B.F.: What is one thing you want to achieve musically?
F.M.: I want to connect with people all over the world. I’ve gone through a lot mentally and in life, so it would be cool to touch someone’s life and make them feel not so alone. I’ve never been after the glitz and glamour. I just want to make music that leaves a lasting impression, brings a feeling to life or just puts words to an emotion. A grammy wouldn’t hurt though haha.
B.F.: You directed the video for “Comet.” Tell us about that.
F.M.: I initially wasn’t going to do a video. I had an elaborate idea for the song before the pandemic, with fairy lights and a couple dancing at a wedding venue, but that wasn’t possible. So I just went out with the producer for the video, in the heat, and we spent the whole day recording random stuff I did. The whole idea of the video was to show that you can romanticize your own life, without the need of someone else.
B.F.: What is your advice to anyone who is entering the music scene?
F.M.: A lot of people can sing, and sing well, but very few people can write their own songs. Learn basic production. Read up on artist’s rights so you don’t lose control over your work. The number of followers doesn't equate to artistic success. Make music because it is an emotional release, not as a business move.
B.F.: What’s next for Fai?
F.M.: More music, more writing, and possible collaborations!
Fai’s debut single “Comet” is available now.
Words: Becky Friedan
Images: Courtesy of Fai Music