Born and raised in the UAE — with Omani and Zanzibari roots — Arqam is a young Emarati trying to make a difference with music and conscious entrepreneurship. His music reflects the embodiment of the UAE, where the old values meet the new and progressive: A mix of old school soul with neo-soul beats, with lyrics rooted in positivity, introspection, love, and search for purpose. All this brought together with vocals that are reminiscent of Motown and the early soul movements.
musivv got in touch with the soul singer with an interview.
How are you?
I'm golden, can’t complain.
How was your latest performance at Breakout DXB?
I loved it. Loved the crowd, the vibe was nice and intimate. Can honestly say I enjoyed it.
What got you into music?
Honestly, searching for a purpose. I wasn’t satisfied with the 9-5 hustle. I felt that I couldn’t express myself properly in that environment. The work politics, the grime of it wasn’t for me. Decided I would try doing things that I'd always loved but was too scared or distracted to do. It was also important that I pursued something that could bring about some good.
...searching for a purpose
Your song 'Heavy' feels suited because of the melancholic vibe. Tell us about your songwriting process for it.
The song was meant to reflect the year, that we are finally bringing to a close, but I wanted to highlight the perseverance that humankind showed during these times. The song started off kind of down, but as we get to the bridge and last verse it starts to get positive. I needed it to not be a sad song but it had to go through tough times to get to the good times on the other side. The way I like to start is with the melody, I already had an idea for the guitar chords, but after playing it and jamming to it, 'Heavy' started writing itself.
What message do you want your followers to take away whenever they listen to your songs?
I’d like to think that people that listen to my music get inspired, empowered, or at least have some profound thought. I like to think that you feel something when you listen to my music. Hopefully, all my songs have a message that resonates.
What are the challenges while pursuing a passion for music?
I think like most artists here we struggle to monetize music to make it a decent living. We are still a long way from being the cultural hub that the city strives to be but I'm hoping we are heading in the right direction. If I get one more call offering exposure for performing...
Lack of radio play also makes it tough to reach a wider audience. I think the UAE is one of the only places in the world that doesn't play or promote local-based musicians in English radio stations.
Who would you love to share the stage with?
There's a number of local musicians that I would love to share the stage with. Hopefully further down the line when I'm a little more established. When it comes to international artists, BoyzIIMen, Lauryn Hill, and Stevie Wonder. 'Think that would be insane.
To have people listening to my music is so humbling
What's the biggest dream as a singer?
To have people listening to my music is so humbling, even if it's 10 people or 100. Getting people to vibe with it and feel the lyrics mean a lot to me.
"It's been such a blessing on this musical journey, I hope everyone can vibe to the music as things slowly get better. And as one great poet and rapper Tupak Shakur once said: 'I'm not saying I'm gonna change the world, but I guarantee that I will spark the brain that will change the world,'" Arqam concluded.Follow Arqam: