The intangibility of music weighed heavy on the mind of 23-year-old, Brisbane-based songwriter/vocalist Wafia in the writing of her devastating new EP VIII. Eight is the atomic number for oxygen, the chemical element in which music is bound. “I had this existential crisis talking with friends who make physical art,” laughs the scientifically-minded Wafia, born Wafia Al-Rikabi. “What I make, I can never touch it. I started to wonder ‘Does this mean anything?’”
When you’re creating projects like VIII and making songs as thrilling as Wafia's “Bodies,” then, yes, it absolutely does mean something. On its face, standout track “Bodies" is a club-ready update on “All Night Long,” the classic Lionel Richie cut. “Bodies” is a dance floor siren song. This is big pop: triumphant, thunderous and crystalline. But dare to dig a touch deeper and one will find something more at stake, something more sweeping. Wafia, who is of Iraqi and Syrian heritage, has felt the political tensions of our modern era. “It’s hard for me to go Online without being talked at, without being told what I may be feeling,” she said. The weight of this informed the melody and mood of “Bodies,” which had been cycling through Wafia’s head for a year. But she couldn’t quite figure how to suss this melody and feeling fully into song.
Bodies and breath, cornerstones of the physical world, are more often than not on the mind of Wafia, a former pre-med student who found her love and knack for music slowly pulling her from school. Unlike medicine and science, Wafia has found that music gives her mind a chance to relax, to not overthink. But that scientific penchant for pattern and physical observation feeds Wafia’s music in all the right ways. VIII ups the ante on the dynamic from her 2015 EP XXIX, peeling back some of the thickened arrangements and keeping what. Wafia's elegant, vaporous voice is a diamond bullet flying.
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