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In 2015, twenty-two-year-old Wafia Al-Rikabi has managed to effortlessly enchant audiences around the world, by combining her ethereal vocals with the understated instrumentals of some of Australia's best beat-smiths. The Brisbane-based songstress has seen a string of success since 2012, stunning the internet with her cover of Mario’s ‘Let Me Love You’, before taking a star turn on Japanese Wallpaper’s ‘Breathe In’ – a track that ended up in Zach Braff’s Kickstarter film Wish I Was Here.
Veering from a path studying biomedicine, and looking for more creative outlets to break the monotony of university life, Wafia was led to making music. Wafia is of Dutch and Arab heritage, and having been born in the Netherlands, and living with her family in spots all around the globe before settling in Australia, she brings a distinctly worldly view to the burgeoning future-beats genre.
In late November, she released her debut EP XXIX with an assist from local label Future Classic. The lead single 'Heartburn' is a slow-winding, monstrous pop ballad penned with songwriter Ben Abraham, and features military style percussion and pitched-up, stuttering samples courtesy of co-production from Ta-Ku. Further works with Thrupence and Vancouver Sleep Clinic round out an atmospheric effort that gives a strong sense of who Wafia is, and wants to be.
The EP’s title, the Roman numeral for 29, refers to the atomic number of copper, which she explains is a metal always in a stage of transition – “because it adapts to the situation it’s placed”. The link between the malleable metal and her own growth is made clear when listening to XXIX. Complex AU spoke with Wafia about her new EP, the response from fans so far, and what inspires her musically.