A conversation with Iraqi music artist Shebani

Born and raised in the UAE in Iraq, Shébani has quickly won the hearts of listeners and fans around the world with her casual, yet captivating music that sheds an introspective light on our deepest emotions as humans and straight to our hearts and souls. sings. Vibrant, emotional and unabashedly honest, Shebani effortlessly delves deep into the aspects of what it is to be human, encompassing all the beauty and flaws of fear, love, regret, bliss or dread in her music. With every note, melody and vocal nuance, Shébani touches on themes that are often subdued, embracing the challenges of contemporary relevance, while embodying the meaning of reflection and truth as a woman for women.

Always drawn to expressing her authentic self in music rather than in word, Shébani brings out hidden emotions in just one melodic line. Raised in a creative family but suppressed by the social stigmas of where she grew up, it wasn’t until 2015 that the alternative R&B singer-songwriter officially launched her music career through YouTube covers and open-mic performances. In 2016, Shébani wrote her debut official release; a 6-track EP titled “Alter Ego.” Soon after, her career blossomed, graduating from The British and Irish Modern Music Institute in 2017, opening for Pusha T at Sole DXB in December 2017 that same year.

Shébani continues to inspire with her music, connecting with fans around the world with her uninterrupted authenticity and vocal prowess, and arousing great interest and support from high profile artists, opening for the likes of Jorja Smith and Liam Payne in 2019, performing at The EXPO 2020 in Dubai, and recently opened for Khalid in Formula 1 Abu Dhabi in December 2021.

With her single ‘Burn Me Out’ out now, we took some time to hear more from Shébani. Read more about Shébani, the story behind her single and what’s to come below.

Hi Shebani! Let’s start with how did you get your stage name?

It’s my last name! My name is Sarah Al-Shaybani, so I’ve used my last name, but with a twist. This is how “Shebani” was born.

What city are you from and where do you live now?

I was born in Iraq, raised in UAE and live in UAE.

At what point in your life did you decide to pursue a career in music? How did you get started?

I think I’ve always had a tendency to sing and dive deep into the creative fields. I loved music, theatre, film and photography. That’s all I did when I was younger, constantly creating. It wasn’t until I graduated from college that I realized I wanted to pursue a career in music. Then I moved to London to study songwriting, and now we’re here!

Did your upbringing play a role in shaping who you are and defining your sound today? If so, how?

Absolute! I’m the youngest in the family, so I’ve been heavily influenced by the music and movies my sisters listened to when they were growing up. We listened to a lot of boy bands, girl bands and R&B. I can see how that sound affects my writing and creation today, but I also learn a lot about myself along the way. The process of exploring your sound and who you are as an artist is my favorite part.

How would you describe your sound to readers who may not know you?

I’d say it’s honest, emotional, clear, and nostalgic.

Do you have any hobbies outside of music? What do you do to stay creative?

A lot! Frankly, the list goes on. I’m really a big believer in my life outside of music because beyond the transcendent creation process, managing yourself as an independent artist can be very stressful.

I love living next to my loved ones so I am constantly looking for new activities to do. I read, I go to the beach a lot, – the ocean is therapeutic for me – swimming and snorkeling too. I enjoy baking; it is my activity to de-stress.

Who are some of your main musical influences?

I’d say NAO, Jon Bellion, Gallant and Julia Michaels would be a good start.

Who would it be a dream to work with?

Dream collaboration would definitely be NAO. I manifest studio sessions with her in this life!!!!

What are some of your future goals in your music career?

Tour, tour and tour. It’s my ultimate dream. I am ready to travel the world through music.

What is “Burn Me Out” in your own words about?

“Burn Me Out” is a metaphor for a cycle that repeats itself. The emotional trauma, gaslighting, and trust issues that were collected from one relationship and brought into the next. You know it will be different, but there is still a tug of war going on in your mind; hoping that your new love will not see your pain as “crazy”, but will actually help you heal and understand that you have been hurt. Often we are stuck between healing/succumbing, but “Burn Me Out” emphasizes that we must always choose to heal.

What is your favorite lyric in “Burn Me Out” and why?

Second verse: “I wish I was strong enough before / Wish I could say / I was done with all the gaslighting.”

This line summarizes the entire song. Like many people who have been in toxic relationships, I had to believe that I am too emotional, too much, too crazy and have too many trust issues. We always know in the back of our minds that we’re not crazy because we feel an imbalance in a relationship, and when it comes time for us to confront someone, we don’t realize we’re being called “crazy” or “paranoid” in return. just a way for them to defend the lies and the infidelity. I never trusted my gut feeling, and every time I sensed danger, I turned the other way and chose to ignore it, only to find out I was right all along.

What message do you hope fans take away from your music and from “Burn Me Out?”

To take back your strength and strength from the pain you went through in the past. To turn a terrible situation into an opportunity for you to heal. And finally, never to be called paranoid or crazy. If you feel an energy, a lie, or there’s a voice in your head that says something isn’t right, believe it.

What has been one of your proudest moments in your music career to date?

I’m all proud of it. I really am. Every moment and every milestone in the past 5 to 6 years has been crucial and necessary for my career. I believe it all plays out to an even brighter future. I can’t wait to see what this life has in store for me.

What do you think are the biggest lessons you’ve learned so far?

To never doubt yourself, never compare yourself to anyone else and to understand/believe that you are very unique and important in your own way. There will never be another you, so enjoy that and don’t focus on your weaknesses. Instead, improve your strengths and believe in what you can do. You deserve all the incredible things that happen to you – imposter syndrome is all made up in your head!

What’s next for you? Are you working on future projects that we should keep an eye out for?

An album! “Burn Me Out” is part of my debut album titled “Silver Linings”. There are no specific dates yet, but it will definitely be released in 2022. I have a few more singles from the album to release in the coming months. I can’t wait for those to come out!

Where can we follow you on social media?


Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/shebanimusic/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/shebanimusic
TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@shebanimusic
Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/1t8rTRUUPUItjj6vOTP8kc

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Image provided by Sarah Al-Shaybani

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