Wonderland.

NEW NOISE: WAFIA

The Iraqi-Syrian pop newcomer on identity, biochemistry and Tyler, the Creator.

Australian singer Wafia wearing pink
Australian singer Wafia closeup

Dress MARNI, earrings CHEN2G

Australian singer Wafia wearing pink
Dress MARNI, earrings CHEN2G
Australian singer Wafia closeup

There’s something about Wafia’s piercing falsetto that stops you in your tracks. Saccharine bubblegum tones are punctuated with unbridled sass – and all laid on top of her catchy electropop/R&B hybrid sound.

But when you hear about the inspiration behind her sunshine-inducing songs, that’s when the real awe is stirred up.

A Netherlands-born, Australia-based artist of Iraqi-Syrian descent, Wafia studied biochemistry before turning her passions to music, with songs dealing with everything from heartbreak, hardship and even political injustice.

We caught up with the singer-songwriter below…

Australian singer Wafia black and white

Top PATRICK CHURCH, knit KENZO, earrings CHEN2G

Australian singer Wafia black and white
Top PATRICK CHURCH, knit KENZO, earrings CHEN2G

How did you first get into music?
I’ve been singing my whole life but it wasn’t until I was in my second year of college that I started writing a lot of my own music. It took me a lot of time after that to grow out of some identity issues I had and only then did I really get started with music properly, so around 2014. There were a lot of years spent figuring myself out. 

You studied biochemistry at university – would you ever go back to this?
Honestly I’m so invested in music, I couldn’t ever see myself going back now. I think I’d love to go back to university at 50/60 just for the sake of learning something new. 

Who did you listen to when you were growing up?
A lot of Shania Twain, Celine Dion and Spice Girls mixed in amongst Arabic pop and classical music. 

So you’re a Netherlands born, Australian-based artist of Iraqi-Syrian descent – can you tell me how your background affects and influences your music?
I think it influences me in ways I have yet to completely comprehend. I still listen to a lot of Arabic music and there lots of elements in it that I feel inspire my own music. I’m working on incorporating more of it in really accessible ways in the stuff I’m working on now. 

I heard you wrote “Bodies” when your family were denied refugee status into Australia – is that true?
Yeah, so I wrote that song a little out of frustration because my mum had called me to say that the application she had submitted for her siblings back home in Syria was once again denied. At this point, I’d seen her go through it multiple times and this was the one everyone was really banking on. I went into the studio and I feel like there is no way I was going to write a song that wasn’t about my family that day so we just ran with it till “Bodies” was made. 

So is music a really therapeutic thing for you? 
Most definitely. I write out of desperation to work through an issue. It’s become important in the way that I process anything that happens. After a song is written, I feel a sense of closure for addressing it head on. 

What do you hope people take away from listening to your music?
That they feel heard. Most circumstances in our lives aren’t unique and it always feels better to know that there are others going through it with you.

Where do you get inspiration from most of your tracks from?
From life. I really don’t know how to write from a place that isn’t factual and true. I haven’t quite worked out if that’s a good or bad thing yet. 

You’ve got amazing style – who were your style icons growing up?
My mum. She used to put me in very colour coordinated outfits and I think I inherently love that and symmetry including on tattoos and piercings. But otherwise Lizzie McGuire, and Fran Drescher from [American sitcom] The Nanny! 

You’ve had quite a few cool collabs now, including with Louis the Child – who’s your dream collaboration?
It’s hard to say! Every collaboration has been with my friends so I guess if the question was “who would I like to be friends with next?” then my answer would be SZA, Tyler, the Creator and Kacey Musgraves. 

What’s next for you?
I’m in the midst of the “I’m Good” world tour right now so I’m aiming to release more music next year.

Australian singer Wafia stood on staircase
Australian singer Wafia looking off to side

(LEFT) Leather Jacket PATRICK CHURCH, jumper DIESEL, trousers TOPSHOP, shoes DIESEL
(RIGHT) Dress MARNI, earrings CHEN2G

Australian singer Wafia stood on staircase
Leather Jacket PATRICK CHURCH, jumper DIESEL, trousers TOPSHOP, shoes DIESEL
Australian singer Wafia looking off to side
Dress MARNI, earrings CHEN2G

Photography
Lewis Vorn
Styling
Lawson
Hair
Liam Russell
Makeup
Sophie King using MAC Cosmetics 
Words
Maybelle Morgan
NEW NOISE: WAFIA

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