Wafia released her EP Good Things in 2020 which was shining a light for us in what was a dreary year. With lyrics that pull the heartstrings mixed with modern day pop symphonies of optimism and hope she is one artist you have to see live. Wafia chatted with the Hi Fi Way about the possibility of returning to Adelaide where she spent some of her childhood years in the Riverland, Australian accents and all things music.
You’re in Los Angeles at the moment. How’s it going over there with the whole COVID-19 situation?
It’s pretty bad. I don’t really leave my house. It’s been nine to ten months of this now. It’s tough on the brain, mental health and also my creativity too but I’m doing ok all things considered. I just have to remember to be kind to myself as possible in this time and its ok to just get through the day. I would love to be in Australia right now.
It’s been a while since you’ve played in Adelaide, are you looking forward to performing here at some stage in the near future?
Oh my God yeah! Adelaide is one of those places where I lived. I went to school in Berri and was going to go to Loxton High School, but my parents shifted course and moved to Queensland. A lot of the people I went to primary school with still live in Adelaide, so playing in Adelaide are the moments I would get to reconnect with them.
Has COVID-19 changed the way you look at live performing?
I’m trying not. No, I think the part that will probably spin me out is seeing a large group of people. You have to remember I haven’t seen anyone. Here in LA I’ve only seen a handful of people and I haven’t been in a room with an audience. It’s actually quite a traumatic thing to live through as long as America has so I don’t anticipate that being the easiest transition. So, I’m mentally bracing that it’s going to be shocking to see so many people together but be so glad that at least in some places in the world we get to have this again. I feel so lucky to be Australian and eventually get to come back to dip my toe in.
You’re living in LA now and seem to be establishing yourself there really well. Do you miss Australia and all those Australianisms?
Do you know what I miss the most? Going to my sister’s netball game on a Saturday and going to the tuck shop there to buy a meat pie. It’s like getting to relive my high school/primary school days where one day a week when she’s playing netball. I really miss that. I also miss hearing an accent that is so familiar to me. I’m surrounded by people that don’t understand when I say any word with the letter R in it. So, I’ve had to adapt my accent, so I just want to drop that guard down. I’m also excited to get some home cooking too! There’s so much to look forward to that I’m so excited.
I remember when I lived overseas, I just missed the small things that when you’re living here aren’t important but when you’re so far away you miss like a drink or food.
My mum’s been sending me packages every couple of months of Tim Tams, Freddo Frogs, Caramello Koalas and Australian Kit Kats. American Kit Kats are not the same. The chocolate tastes different. My mum sends me all the things I need.
I’ve been listening to the songs from your recent EP and I can understand why people can resonate with them a lot. Did you think that what you’re feeling and going through would be so relatable to people who listen to your music? Are you surprised by that?
Yeah. Every time. I never want to take for granted my reach to people. I think sometimes when I’m writing these songs what I’m really thinking is getting something off my chest in a way that feels honest to me. I’m so glad that human experience as a whole is so relatable. I can talk about it in this very specific way and someone else will be like ‘yeah I know that feeling’. I love being able to put words to it and people that I never thought I would ever connect with to get it.
I was trying to explain it to my partner who is Canadian/American, and I was trying to explain different types of Australian, specifically men who are tradies as an Australian person. These people come to my shows. I never would have thought that walking down the street that me and this guy would have anything to say to each other but here he is at my show screaming at the top of his lungs. He’s experienced heartbreak same way I have, and I love that my lyrics get to do that with people I’ve never met. In growing and making my music I’ve learnt that as much as we all want to be different; we are really all the same and that’s kind of comforting in its own way.
I can resonate your songs and lyrics even though I’m from a different generation. I love the fact you can connect with any generation or age group with your music. Your song How to Lose a Friend is a song I always tear up when I hear it. It takes me back to a time in my younger days and I can relate to it so much.
Thank you so much! I think as well that I don’t know a single woman who doesn’t have that kind of loss when it comes to friendship that way. Age group doesn’t matter, generation doesn’t matter. We’ve all been hurt like that by a friend and really miss someone and don’t know how to talk about it. I’m so glad you love that one because that’s one of my favourites.
You always hear about a breakup song between lovers but hardly hear a song about a platonic friendship that breaks up.
Yeah one fuels the other. For your relationship to be fulfilled your platonic relationships have to feel fulfilling. Why would you not shed some light on that? That was my approach in writing for this song. That was the first thing I said in the session that day “There aren’t enough songs about friends and I’m dealing with a friend breakup and I don’t have any songs to turn to.” I’m in this unique position in my life and I can create the kind of song I want to hear.
Your songs are very personal and relatable. Do you find when you write them its very cleansing and cathartic?
Most definitely! I always approach it that it has to benefit me first before I feel like it can benefit anyone else. It’s like the analogy of the putting on the mask first when you’re on an airplane before you put it on someone else. These songs do that for me. A lot of my songs deal with confidence and self-love. There was a time where I was singing those songs and I wasn’t feeling it. I went through a big change in my life and a very necessary break up. My song writing became more confident and the things that I broached just added a layer of depth to them. That’s necessary for me and my growth as a human and in turn will supplement the music to hopefully help others.
When I listen to your music, I see a lot of your personality in there and your songs are quite deep and personal. There are some wounds there and you’re opening up but then there’s this balance of hope in there as well.
I appreciate that. I’m so glad that comes across. I think that’s a big mark of my personality. I’m realistic and I love to reminisce, then I also I can be quite optimistic towards the future. Like whatever is meant to be will be and all those cliché sayings. I’ve become a big fan of knowing that if it doesn’t serve me now it will ultimately lead me to something that will.
Are you ok with being so open to everybody like that? Because you really are letting us into your heart and mind. Are you ok with letting people see you like that?
I think it’s like I touched on earlier. When I’m making these songs, I’m really not thinking about other people hearing them. Sometimes I even think ‘Oh do I want my mother to hear this song? Do I want my mother to know I went through this much pain?’ and those are all questions that I’ve thought about after the song is written. By that point I feel like I don’t have a choice, it’s the most honest thing to say so why would I write a lie to cover that feeling up.
I believe that ultimately whatever the most honest thing is will resonate with others. Just trust that how it felt in the room that day that what I wrote it is the feeling I should try to honour the most. I think if you meet me, I will tell you my whole life story. I’m an over sharer, I will tell you everything but not so much on social media. Realising my songs are a bridge to get to know me without really meeting me.
Right at this moment how are you feeling about everything you have accomplished so far in your musical career? Are there more things you want to achieve?
I feel like there’s always more that I want to achieve. I’m definitely a goal-oriented person. This pandemic has very much put a hold on those things to make me reassess and ask myself “What do I really need for a fulfilling life?” I have so many ambitions that I want to achieve within in music and outside music. I try really hard to not look at the numbers, the statistics or the data. I will leave it to other people to compare me. I don’t really need to compare me and what I can focus on or control are the songs and the stories that I’m telling. I try to let that be the way I measure my growth and only try compare it to the work I did the week before but I am ambitious. Do I want to play bigger rooms? Yes! But the way I look at getting there is by being the best songwriter and singer that I can be so I try not to let it hinge on things I can’t control.
What’s install for Wafia in 2021?
I’ve been working hard. I have a few collaborations that I’m really excited about but can’t speak of yet. We’re just tying up some loose ends and I think that’s where my head’s at next. I can’t wait to tour this at the very least around Australia when I can. I think touring is going to make me feel so good and remind me of being an artist again.
Interview By Anastasia Lambis