Jaafar is currently celebrating the success of his newest single "Sixteen," which tells the story of a 16 year old girl in a war torn country, hoping to see her next birthday. With beautiful melodies and raw, emotional lyricism, Jaafar seamlessly merges traditional Middle Eastern sounds with western pop in a way that is sure to touch listeners. With his debut album, Folktales of Spring coming in early 2016, next year promises to be monumental for Jaafar.
Listen to "Sixteen" and read our full interview with Jaafar below.
Interview by Dom Vigil
Thank you for taking the time to talk with us! Could you tell us a little bit about yourself for any readers who may not be familiar?
Sure, quite simply, I write music, record it and then perform it. Not always in that order. The key word in describing my sound is 'fusion'. I'm interested in in combing my favorite elements of Middle Eastern and western pop music.
Can you recall what first inspired you to pursue music?
I've always been interested in music and singing especially. My first concert was Sting, that probably solidified the idea for me.
You've been hard at work on your upcoming album, Folktales of Spring. Can you tell us a little bit about the album? What is the driving force behind this release?
Folktales is my debut album, and I really can't wait for people to hear a full body of work from me. I've been recording it for over a year and a half now, and we're in the home stretch now. As far as subject matter it's a commentary on the world we live in today. That was really what drove this album and the writing process.
Were there any subjects you wanted to touch on with these songs?
Yes, of course. I didn't want what I was trying to say to be spoon fed though. These songs can mean different things to different people. To me there was a point I was trying to get across, or particular story I was trying to tell with every single song. Lyrically, I made a conscious effort to make the songs more poetic as opposed to conversational. It was important to me that the lyrics were strong enough to be stand alone pieces of work and not just melody fillers... Which unfortunately is the case for most songs on the radio today. The current standard of pop music is subpar, at best, in terms of songwriting, performance and production. I didn't want to hold myself to today's standards of what is considered a good song.
You just released your single and video for "Sixteen," and I understand there is quite a story behind that track, as well. Can you tell us a little bit about it?
Sixteen is one of the essential tracks on the album, sonically and lyrically. It's the story of a sixteen-year-old girl, growing up in a war torn county, trying to make it to her seventeenth birthday. That rings very true in today's world, even more so than when I wrote the song unfortunately. There's no greater tragedy.
You've been using your own brand of pop music to tell some more serious, real stories. Why is it important for your listeners to hear these stories and understand the meaning behind them?
To be frank, when I'm writing music and when I'm in the studio recording it, my sole purpose is personal gratification. What I mean by that is, I make music for me, music that I would want listen to. I sing about things that affect me or that are on my mind. Maybe that sounds selfish. Funnily enough though, I think that is what people connect to, the fact that the music comes from a place of truth. After all there are bound to be other people, who can't stand to listen to one more song about clubbing. When writing the music for this album it just so happened that what was affecting me the most, was the world around me. It's a confusing world out there.
When can listeners expect to hear some more music from Folktales of Spring?
The next single off the album will be out in January. The album itself will be out shortly after that. I'm very excited for 2016!
How do you feel that you've grown or evolved as a person and as a musician with these songs?
I feel like I've evolved and improved as a singer, a songwriter, a producer and even a performer during the course of writing, recording and figuring out the live arrangements. I've recorded a bunch of music over the years but I've always been precious about what I put out. I'm thankful for that because this body of work is what I would like people to see first from me as an artist. I feel like I've only now really found my sound and who I am, musically speaking.
If you could accomplish or change anything with your music, what would you like it to be?
My personal goal is to only put out music I love and believe in, that is the only way I think people will be able to connect with what I'm saying. So, to answer your question I hope my music defies stereotypes and at the same time opens people's eyes to different cultures, and the world around them in general. Having said that, when I write I never write with an agenda or try to force things on people. I'm always only speaking from a humanitarian standpoint and never a political one and I think those topics are universal.
Now that 2015 is coming to an end, what is 2016 looking like for you?
I'm really excited for 2016. I can't wait for these songs to be out in the world and hopefully get the opportunity to perform them live night after night!
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Look out for upcoming announcements on my website and social media channels. Thank you guys so much for talking to me and I hope to see you soon on the road!