In 2005, 37-year-old Emirati soul singer Abri started making music. Since then, whether with his band or solo, Abri hasn’t ceased to reinvent himself, while always staying true to his roots, keeping him on the crest of the wave. Embracing contemporary hip-hop and electro sounds, Abri’s genre-spanning sound is more mature than ever.
“There’s good music in all eras”, he says before adding, “Frank Ocean, Kendrick Lamar, Travis Scott, Tame Impala, Rihanna; I’m into all of this”.
With a few solo projects, and a couple of bands (Abri & The Funk Radius and Abri & The Dreamfleet) in the pipeline, we caught up with the singer to find out about what soul music means to him and Dubai’s burgeoning youth culture.
When did you realise you wanted to pursue a career in music?
When I listened to Michael Jackson’s Off The Wall album, when I was around 15-year-old. I love everything about this album: the singing, the production, the atmosphere.
Soul music might not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of UAE-grown music. How did growing up in Dubai influence you as an artist?
Dubai influenced me in so many ways because there’re people from everywhere! I went to class with people from Pakistan, India, Lebanon, England, France, and so many other places. I was exposed to their culture, their cuisine and their music as well! That’s why I actually do “western” music too.
You make music both as a solo artist and with several bands. Why do you need so many alter egos?
There are things I can’t do with a band that I can solo and vice versa. I like to experiment, take risks, and explore new vibes. That’s why I need various configurations to release all of the projects I want to deliver.
What do you think of the music scene in the UAE at the moment?
There’s a huge growth. The youth have so many outlets, it’s amazing to see them working on music in such a passionate way. I follow a few artists, such as Moh Flow, Majeed, Koshr, The Loosing Party. Things are really exciting.
What advice would you give to a young Emirati who wants to get in to music?
Pursue your dream! Perceptions on creative careers are finally starting to change. What people say shouldn’t impact you. Do your thing, stay true to yourself, work hard and believe in your talent.