Six Questions With Rising Moroccan-Canadian Songstress Faouzia
Though her star was already rising, when Moroccan born songstress Faouzia (FOH-ZE-UH) teamed up with John Legend on the strikingly poignant single ‘Minefields’ this past January, it was clear her destiny was sealed (The video has been viewed more than 40 million times on YouTube). A heartbreaking song about the realization of love lost, her vocal performance surely sent chills up no small numbers of spines – probably even that of her very famous collaborator.
Birthed Faouzia Ouihya in Casablanca, Morocco just after the turning of the millennium, she grew up a pop music loving kid in a small town in Canada’s Manitoba province. By the age of 15 she had won Song of the Year, the Audience Award, and the Grand Prix at the 2015 La Chicane Éléctrique annual music competition – and a contract with the Paradigm Agency followed.
Though she now holds an engineering degree from the University of Manitoba, her singing career has decisively edged that out, and she’s currently signed to big major label Atlantic Records. And despite the fact that her debut EP Stripped was released to much enthusiasm in August of 2020, it’s certainly what she is up to now and what lies ahead that has everyone buzzing about her. (Billboard called her “One of the most powerful new voices you’ll hear this year.”)
To wit, her exuberant, and utterly captivating new single ‘Puppet’, which is her most confident and self-possessed yet. With its poignant themes of freedom and female empowerment, her lyrics surely strike a powerful chord in a 2021 that sees women ever more agitating for greater respect and positive change.
“Oh, tried to dim my flame
I shine brighter
And you tried to dull my blade
We slowed her down just long enough to talk about what it all means.
Can you describe your journey from Morocco to Canada to where you are now?
I was born in Casablanca, and my parents immigrated to Canada when I was one. I grew up in a very small town that had very brutal winters. This was a blessing in disguise, since I would spend all my time singing, playing music, and writing songs. I started performing at a really young age and eventually began posting covers and original music to YouTube. This eventually led me to getting signed, and the rest is history.
On ‘Puppet’ you sing, “Said I was too much / You’re just not enough” – do you feel that women are constantly held up to unrealistic expectations?
I do feel like women are held up to unrealistic expectations, yes – to be perfect at all times…and I also feel like they are constantly being told who they need to be and what they need to do. I’ve been told so many times that I’m too much, and I’ve seen it happen to so many beautiful and strong women. I don’t think women should dim their light for anyone, especially someone who is trying to bring them down to their level to feel better about themselves.
And do you find that the men who have these expectations rarely ever think that maybe they should try to improve themselves?
Adding on to my last answer, I think it’s easier to try to bring someone down than to work on bettering yourself to meet a certain standard. With women being told to change themselves constantly, I believe men who have these expectations think it should be normal for women to shift to whatever their desires may be, instead of taking a route that may be more difficult, such as improving themselves.
What was it like working with John Legend?
Working with John Legend was an absolute dream. He was so lovely, and he brought such a soulful element to ‘Minefields’.
Will we see your debut album any time soon? And is there anything you can reveal about it?
I’ve been working on my album for years, and it’s shaping up to be very powerful and strong.
What do you like more, engineering or singing?
I love both and they both hold a special place in my heart. Although I’ve been singing for my whole life and keep falling more in love with it…so I think singing wins.