Artist Willem X opens up to MJT about his new single “Habibi” an unique musical style, combining contemporary beats with traditional influences.

Ever since my early twenties, I’ve felt very connected to the Middle Eastern culture. During my undergraduate degree (Music Production in Germany), I became friends with a group of Egyptians and spent most of my time with them. Funnily enough, I was the only German kid among a large friend group of otherwise exclusively Egyptians and other Arabs.

Most interestingly, the Western impression of the Middle East (especially in Germany) is often quite negative, but I saw all of my foreign friends leave Germany for the Middle East as soon as the semester break began. Of course, that left my younger self wondering: What makes them want to go back to their home country so badly all the time, and what are my fellow German nationals so afraid of? What do we not understand about their culture?

I decided to find out in 2017, when I accompanied my friends to Egypt for several weeks. While I had lived in Latin America for quite some time at a young age and was already well-traveled, I was particularly impressed by the Egyptian culture and, given the vast cultural differences, was immediately intrigued by its social difference, its norms and unspoken rules, its novelty entirely.

Ever since, I’ve felt close to people from the Middle East. In my song ‘Habibi’, I’m addressing some of my cultural confusions that come with dating people from a different culture. The good, and the bad. There’s so much more I’d like to say, but there’s only so much content to put into a 3-minute song.

My music in general talks about intercultural experiences, about being open-minded and humble. Having lived in the liberal California for two years (studying music at Stanford University on a Fulbright scholarship), I’ve further expanded my horizon and gained perspectives on global cultural differences, which I’m addressing in my upcoming music.

For now, I’ve decided to kick off my music career with ‘Habibi’, as I’ve gone through recent breakup with my Iranian ex-girlfriend.

If you’re confused as to why I’m making a song called ‘Habibi’ (Arabic) and talk about “Persian Dinner” in the first verse (where Persian citizen predominantly speak Farsi and not Arabic) – I thought that they also used that same word to refer to one another. Turns out they don’t! However, she really liked it when I called her Habibti, and so she decided to call me Habibi.

Yes, I’m still learning. I hope that won’t end so soon.

More music out soon @Willemxeno !

Photo credit : Chiara Alexa

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.