Not every career path you first choose is the right one. This is true for electronic-pop/soulful artist Wafia Al-Rikabi, or shortened, WAFIA. This up-and-coming artist is a Netherlands-born, Brisbane, Australia-based musician who did a career pivot while studying pre-med at university. Years later, here she is taking on the Coachella stage alongside Louis The Child to perform their new single “Better Not.” Excuse us for being corny, but you better not miss out on WAFIA. After releasing two EPs, XXIX and VIII, she’s not done yet. She’s working on finishing her new record and while we patiently wait, we caught WAFIA a few days after her big performance to ask her a few questions!
The Young Folks: First off, how are you right at this moment? What are you up to?
WAFIA: Hi! I’m great, I just got back to LA and I head to a photoshoot in a couple of hours.
The Young Folks: I have to ask – How was your two weeks of Coachella? Have you been there before? What was it like to be on the stage in front of a massive crowd?
WAFIA: That was my first Coachella experience and it was really incredible. That was definitely the biggest crowd I’d performed in front of so it was a real highlight.
The Young Folks: Coachella has to be one of the biggest stages to be on and you started from a really small stage. How is that shift for you? Is this something you ever get used to or do you have something to do to calm your nerves or overcome any anxiety?
WAFIA: I honestly thought I’d be a lot more anxious than I was but waiting backstage to go on, everything felt weirdly calm. I realized that I’d worked to get to this point and statistically speaking, I’d never really bombed a performance so why would this one be any different. So I just trusted that I’d be fine and that I’ve already put in all work. That eliminated a lot of my nerves for me.
The Young Folks: How your collaboration with Louis The Child came about? Were you familiar with them beforehand or was this all something new?
WAFIA: I’d been familiar with the guys’ work for a while but I was introduced to them by my executive producer (who is housemates with Robby) and then he was the one to put the session together.
The Young Folks: What was the songwriting process like for this one? I read that you generally like to write more so for yourself versus writing for others. Did Louis the Child let you do your thing and they put the music in it? Or was it an entirely different process?
WAFIA: LTC were super easy to work with and we worked hard on trying to make something that would be the middle ground for both of our projects. Aside from LTC and myself, artist/songwriter Wrabel was in the room as was producer Rogét Chahayed. With so many contributing to the song, it made it easy to write a fun song, I think. There wasn’t any pressure to make anything deadly serious
The Young Folks: Now you’re finishing up your new record, congrats! What will this new record sound like?
WAFIA: I’m not ready to say ‘till it’s set in stone! I feel like I’m still in the midst of it so I want to figure it out completely before I share anything.
The Young Folks: How did you jump into songwriting? Did you have to take some sort of lessons on crafting your words into music or was this more of something you learned on the go?
WAFIA: I learned by just looking at the way my favorite songs were written and I went from there. Then when I started writing with other people, I learnt a lot from watching them work and adapting their techniques to suit me.
The Young Folks: You’ve come such a far way from recording solely covers on the internet to putting out your own music. What would you tell your younger self when you were just getting started with the music industry?
WAFIA: That trusting my gut would always be the way to go.