Like anyone his age, Danny Aridi has a case of the travel bug.
Or, as the Germans more eloquently put it — wanderlust.
The 26-year-old Lebanese-Canadian singer recently travelled across India — including Pushkar and Jaipur — to capture lively footage for his latest music video.
On 'Wanderlust', he delivers an Oasis-esque performance about his restless desire to explore the world, crooning: “How about we go, somewhere no one knows us, call it wanderlust?”
Viewers can live vicariously through Aridi’s travels on YouTube, or click through the vibrant behind-the-scenes snapshots curated on the singer’s Instagram. These include a candid moment where Aridi is serenaded by a local Rajasthani folk musician.
“It was phenomenal,” said Aridi. “It was my first time in India. There’s just a really big buzz and energy going around; it was hard for us to pick something to film, because there’s so much happening around you.”
As far as singer-songwriters go, Aridi is warm and measured; earnest in his ambition and generous with his smile. Vocally, he possesses the smoky rasp of an acoustic performer that would seem almost cliché, had it not worked so well to belt out his affecting lyrics.
Over the past few years, the UAE-based Aridi — signed to Universal Music and winner of the 2017 Yasalam Emerging Talent Competition — has been building a sizeable following online. But it’s not because of any party tricks he hides up his sleeve.
“I’m usually the guy that just has the guitar, hanging around. In case someone wants some music, I’ll bring that out,” said Aridi, laughing. “That’s not to say I just bring a guitar uninvited, but usually, I’m there to supply the music... if someone needs that.”
Aridi has opened for some of pop, EDM and rock ‘n' roll’s biggest names — from Guns ‘n Roses and P!nk to Calvin Harris and Katy Perry.
“A lot of the times we are in separate areas — you have a trailer, but it’s in a different zone than theirs, which I understand. But I did get to meet AJ from the Backstreet Boys,” said Aridi. “He’s such a nice guy. He heard [me perform] and he was like, ‘That was a great performance, I loved your set!’ To hear that from someone that I listened to growing up was pretty special,” admitted Aridi.
The Lebanon-raised Aridi has been shuffling around the globe his whole life. His story so far has been infused with a sense of wanderlust, as he grew up between paradoxical cities — from bustling Los Angeles to sleepy Montreal.
Picking up a guitar his mother had brought home, he turned to music at the age of 15.
“I learnt everything online. Nowadays you can learn anything, really,” he said.
“I started making little videos and putting them on YouTube and when Instagram came out, I used that and built some sort of online fan base. I did a lot of live performances and entered a few different talent competitions [in the UAE] and ended up being successful with those. Then, I signed to Universal Music and I’ve been releasing music ever since,” said Aridi.
It was my first time in India. There’s just a really big buzz and energy going around.
While music is his major calling, Aridi has been known to dabble in acting, having starred in a few advertisements here and there. And when Guy Ritchie began to cast for Disney’s live-action remake of ‘Aladdin’, which released earlier this year starring the Egyptian-Canadian Mena Massoud, Aridi signed up to his first audition for a leading role in a feature film.
On arrival, he was surrounded by Aladdins and Jasmines, who seemed to have auditioned in pairs — but, as luck would have it, there was no actress around to pair up with Aridi as the leading princess, leaving him in an awkward situation.
“When I got there on my call time, they said, ‘Sorry, there’s no Jasmine for you — you’re going to have to do it facing the camera’... So I had to pretend like the big red dot in the camera was Jasmine and, you know, mime and have dialogue while the casting director is reading her lines,” said Aridi.
“That wasn’t too much of a problem — the problem was with the song. I was singing ‘A Whole New World’ and there are lines where [Jasmine sings] and I had to just stand there and kind of wave my arms around and mime to the camera, in the words of the director, ‘as if I’m on a magic carpet.’ It made for some funny footage,” he added, laughing.
Far away from Hollywood’s sloping hills, Aridi is doing just fine in his own bubble of creating and releasing music. But had the whole singing thing not worked out, what would he have been doing instead?
“Music really tells stories, and I love telling stories and writing, so I would get into filmmaking — that’s something I’d love to do. More of documentary-style stuff. I love watching National Geographic,” said Aridi.
For now, the singer-songwriter is focused on releasing new material, with his next song due in August. It’s set to be a much more vulnerable track, with guitar, cello, violins and no drums.
“It’s a lot more stripped down and raw compared to ‘Wanderlust’, which is more like an upbeat commercial production. It has a really strong and powerful message, and the music video was filmed here in the UAE,” said Aridi.
‘THE BLACK BOX’ WITH DANNY ARIDI
Would you take Bear Grylls with you to a deserted island? Danny Aridi would.
The latest guest on our new video series ‘The Black Box’, Aridi powered through our set of mystery questions — ranging from his guilty pleasures to his football obsessions. Here’s a snippet of what went down:
What three things would you take with you to a desert island?
Probably my phone and my guitar. Can I bring a person? I think I’d bring Bear Grylls — he does all these survival shows, so I think he’d probably find some way to train a camel to help us run out.
How do you feel about Arsenal finishing fifth [in the Premier League] last season?
Whoever put this in did their research! [laughs] Yeah, this was really tough. I flew to Baku [Azerbaijan] to see them lose in the final of the Europa League, which was kind of bittersweet. But, hey — hopefully they do better this season.
Who would play you in the movie of your life?
I would have to say Meryl Streep. She’s one of my favourite actresses and she could probably pull it off. But if I had to pick someone, I think maybe a young Al Pacino would do quite well, if we can go back in time.
You can only listen to one album for the rest of time. What do you pick?
This is really tough. If I had to pick one album, it would probably be something by John Mayer.