Emaan Zadjali: beyond ‘We Are Young’

Singer-songwriter Emaan Zadjali by her own admission hasn’t gotten things figured out yet. This despite the fact that she is the voice and brains behind a popular tune that you definitely have heard of many times — the catchy, and according to Emaan, cheesy, “We Are Young” anthem of telecommunications giant Ooredoo.

“By the way, happy music is not my thing at all,” she warned.
“It was the cheesiest thing that I have to do but it was a lot of fun. It was something thrown at me out of nowhere but definitely got me in my comfort zone,” she shared.
“The Ooredo commercial that I was a part of was all done in a total of five days. They contacted me over the internet and told me they want me to do this internet campaign talking about how we can all be connected through the internet and collaborate and stuff like that,” she narrated.
“I was in Texas at that time and everyone else was in Oman. So they were sending me tracks while I was in Texas and they told me to write the song in a couple of days and get me in the studio as fast as possible. It was all very new to me. This was my first time trying to write a very happy, catchy commercial song,” she added.

“I wrote the song in a day, recorded it in a day and they flew in a videographer from Oklahoma or Idaho (I could be mistaken), we got in the studio, recorded and got the video done and send it. And then it was on all platforms five months later,” she shared.
She didn’t know what would be people’s reception to it, but a positive song with a catchy tone, it became a favourite to many.
Emaan has trouble describing her style of singing too. Only 20-years old, she is experimenting and taking her voice in different directions.
“When it comes to my style, I would say it varies. I like the acoustic sound — I feel like I grew up with this style in the past couple of years but I got recently involved into producing a little bit and since then, I started to get into Daniel Ceasar trap-soulish and ambient vibe,” she said.
She also added that she’s getting a little bit into heavy metal.
“I am currently studying at Berklee College of Music and this is my third year now and I am majoring in Professional Music and concentrating in Performance and Song Writing. It’s been a lot of fun. Being here for three years, it’s been getting better and it’s pretty nice getting to know a lot of musicians and getting to put myself out there. It wasn’t easy in the beginning but you know, we are getting there,” she shared.
Influenced by her mother who used to sing a lot at home, Emaan shared that she was 12 or 13 when she started taking singing and guitar lessons.
“And I also joined a lot of elementary school musical as well and it was fun being able to sing with everyone,” she said.
On November 2, Emaan, together with another local artist Ghazi al Balucci was featured in a music video — half spoken word, half song — released by artist Ziad Gadou.
“In total, I’ve written about 10 songs. About two of them have been produced. One of them is a rendition not fully my own but it has my own lyrics incorporated into it. The other one is an original that is half spoken word half music, she said.
“If people can, I’d really appreciate it if you can check out Cruise Control which is up on Youtube now,” she added.
Emaan’s long-term plan is to go back in Oman and be based here.
“I hope to be based in Oman later on in the future but as of right now, I have no idea what my plan is. I think I’m going to stay in the US for a little bit and figure out who I am trying to be as an artist and then bring what I have to Oman. I hope to be based in Oman to hopefully be able to help other artists to put themselves out there in some way. I’m still figuring it all out,” she said.
She’s all hope though that by the time she decides to come home, Oman would already have a big music scene where artists can flourish and be proud of what they can offer.
“I wouldnt really say there is a huge music scene in Oman right now. I would say there is one slowly forming now. We have upcoming independent artists. You have Adam Nabeel, Nile, Moonssalah, Chase, WNDRSS, Akram and Viirgo. You also have Thanae and Mohammed Menji… so many artists that are coming up right,” she said.
She noted, “2018 is like the year that the music scene is emerging. But before that, there is this big open mic and live music scene that has been doing well. I can say now that an actual music scene is being built up in Oman. Hopefully, in the next five years, we can see more recording booths opening up and also some live music venue would be really cool to see in the near future.”
“Being an independent female artist in Oman isn’t exactly the easiest thing to do but I feel like it does help me stand out since I am one of the only female artists in the area doing what I want to do. Hopefully, I am making a statement just by doing what it is that I do,” she said.
As to how to make the music scene in Oman stronger, she said, “My advice to independent, struggling artists in Oman… Do it. Be different. Do not care about what people have to say. Just do it. This music scene is just happening because people are getting out of their comfort zones. This music scene wasn’t there before. We have to get out and make it happen. So you have to go out. Just do it. Be different and have fun.”

YERU EBUEN & TITASH CHAKRABORTY