Dubai-raised r’n’b singer Karl Wolf’s latest single is so much more than just a cover of one of his favourite songs.
It’s a manifesto for a career he’s certain is on the cusp of something big.
His version of Fleetwood Mac’s Go Your Own Way (he’s a big fan of the band) released at the end of August with a video shot in Dubai — something the Lebanese-origin Canadian has done before, but this time, he’s eschewed the city’s glamour and taken a Ford Shelby Cobra on the road to Hatta.
“I loved the scenic views — Hatta was beautiful — especially with this song, where you need to be on your own, follow your gut, go on your instincts,” Wolf says. “Being in solitude was important for this video. I didn’t want to showcase Dubai as this sparkling, glittery place anymore — I did that in my last video, Yalla Habibi. This time I wanted to show the rustic scenery. I’m so proud of it.”
Why Fleetwood Mac?
Generally, I love remaking ’80s songs, and Fleetowod Mac is one of my favourite bands. I actually did three songs — Everywhere, Little Lies and Go Your Own Way, which is the single. I can’t put a million interpretations on my album so I had to go with one and that was the one that was most pertaining to my current situation — with certain break-ups and friends that I’ve lost along my career.
Tell us about the album?
It’s going to be a bit more R&B-soul, going back to my roots — although there will be at least two EDM [electronic dance music] tracks on the record, and GYOW will be one of them.
I’m always working with different artists and producers for each album. There is something really exciting, I just can’t talk about it right now. I’m going to Atlanta to work with superstar producers and I’ll let you know when it’s time.
Do you have a release date?
I kind of did, but the music industry changes constantly, so you got to move with the times. And there’s opportunities that come up that I want to take. So right now we are pushing it a little bit, but I would rather make people wait for something that’s great.
You filmed this video in Dubai. Why?
I grew up in Dubai and all my friends are there. I love it and [video director] David Zennie is a really good friend. I usually direct all my music videos but this time I wanted to take a regular artist position on it and not really have to worry about from A-Z. He knows how to make a good international video, without worrying, and I usually worry with other directors.
How did Ford get involved?
We fixed the concept and it made sense, it was a win for all. They have great cars, especially the Shelby Cobra, I was so happy when I heard they were going to put that into the video because that’s the kind of car I would like to drive anyway. I think David approached them with the concept.
I was really impressed to be driving it. I wouldn’t let any stuntman to take the wheel.
As an artist, what’s your position on corporate sponsorship?
I always asked the director to keep in mind that I didn’t want it to be too product-placement-looking. I do need a car — that was part of the concept, I find this car and go on my way. It makes sense. That’s becoming more and more common. The music industry is suffering. Record companies aren’t investing as much. So, their video budgets are usually pretty low. When you can have a corporate sponsor, it lifts the value of your video and makes you compete worldwide. That’s important when you’re an English language artist — I am still competing with Justin Timberlake and Usher, even though I am of Lebanese descent from Canada.
What is the Karl Wolf way?
My whole career has been going my own way — my record company is Lone Wolf Entertainment. No one really helped me out and no one really believed in me — but I don’t think I’m alone in that. I think that applies to everybody. I don’t think anybody has believers from the get-go. All the labels told me no, you’re not gonna make it. I remember telling my parents, the one thing I am not is lucky. But maybe that was a good thing. It taught me things don’t just happen to people. That’s what it is — focus on your instincts and go with it, all the way.
How would you describe this stage of your career?
I really believe we are on the cusp of something bigger and more international. I’ve flirted with US, they gave me a record deal, I was close to major deals. A lot of it is timing, who you know. It didn’t really explode but we really came close. What I see is we’re almost there. I’m starting to get it, understand.
This week’s top music events
Wed: The Laughter Factory presents stand-up comedians Mark Walker, Imran Yusuf and Andy Askins, at Heroes, Crowne Plaza Abu Dhabi. Tickets Dh140 available at the door from 7.30pm, show at 9pm. Details at thelaughterfactory.com
Thu: In Da House with American rapper Ace Hood performing his Trials & Tribulations tour at Movida,
Radisson Royal Hotel. Doors open at 11pm. Call 055-1744449.
Fri: 7th Band & Mazyar Fallahi Live, the Iranian music artists perform at Dubai World Trade Center (DWTC).
Tickets Dh299 for free seating, VIP at Dh499 and VVIP at Dh700, available at Virgin Megastores.