“I am delighted to be surrounded by all of these flowers; it’s a beautiful coincidence that my second album cover also has a floral theme,” says Faia Younan.

Radiating amongst the vibrant floral setting of our cover shoot, Faia Younan is as colourful as the flowers surrounding her; an artist whose journey mirrors the resilience and beauty of a flower rising from frozen ground or a diamond that has been formed through the pressures and challenges of time. Whether you see her as a fierce goddess from an ancient Syrian myth or a charming Disney princess, our cover star is not only a beautiful woman, as her name Faia signifies in Aramaic, but a star driven to positively impact people’s lives through music. Let’s step into the enchanting world of Faia Younan as she gracefully washes over us like a gentle summer breeze.

“I am delighted to be surrounded by all of these flowers; it’s a beautiful coincidence that my second album cover also has a floral theme,” Faia joyfully exclaims as our interview begins. Flowers deeply resonate with her personality, as she expresses, “Anything connected to nature exudes beauty! I believe it is essential for us to reconnect with our innate selves, our true nature.” She further adds: “In a world dominated by filters, where we have normalised flawlessness, it is our imperfections that make us unique.” Faia envisions humans as flowers, explaining, “Flowers exhibit a range of different colours and scents, yet each one is the best version of themselves. When they come together, they form a breathtaking landscape, much like humans, uniting to create a vibrant portrait despite their differences.”

Moreover, Faia finds inspiration in the existence of a flower itself. She reflects: “To exist and grow beautifully without the struggle to prove one’s worth, without the stress of being the best—like a flower naturally nurtured by the sun, rain, and earth, without any struggle.” She asserts: “We live in an age where we often compare ourselves to others, constantly striving and forgetting to embrace our lives naturally, just like flowers that fulfil their purpose on earth by simply existing.”

However, Faia acknowledges the numerous challenges she has encountered along her path, both visible and unseen. “I believe that pain is intertwined with creativity and that the most colourful days arise from darkness. I feel that the more you go through, the more depth is added to your life. Things I have been through on a personal level or in my career have made me more creative.” To Faia a perfect life is too boring, she explains further: “In life, I feel that there is something charming about people who encounter challenges, their strength radiates through their souls, much like diamonds formed under immense pressure, shining ever brighter.”

The idea that ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’ relates to Faia. The devastating war in her home country was not the only event to change Faia’s perspective on life, but also the tragic loss of her brother in 2008, she explains: “It taught me to not take anything for granted as life is too short and to be true to myself. It motivated me to follow my dreams and my authentic goals.” This drove the young artist to pursue her dreams and follow her heart. “I studied social sciences but my love and passion for music was always there and I was subconsciously drawn to it no matter what,” Faia fondly expresses.

“Music has the power to effect positive change and deeply impact listeners,” Faia shares. Ever since she has continuously used her talents to contribute to causes close to her heart. “Music in general is my form of expression and allows me to release my emotions, I had always wondered what I want to do through music, but I realised that it is really to make people feel something, to make them think of something in their life when they listen to my music,” Faia tells us. “I pour my heart into every song, it has to speak to my soul and I have to express something real and deep. Even love, for me this has to be presented in a certain way,” she adds.

As an independent and self-made artist, Faia values independence the most in her career journey: “I embrace independence, though it has been challenging as an independent artist, it is worth it! It is difficult to produce everything alone but it is the price I pay to be free and to present my vision and the music that I believe in without being controlled or confined within a certain system which is exhausting for artists. It is not the easiest thing to do.”

Faia recalls her past experiences: “I had applied to many talent shows and I was rejected, something I am grateful for now because it motivated me to produce my first ever song which was crowdfunded.” Faia won a Guinness World Record for the first crowdfunded debut single in the Middle East. She used the Arabian crowdfunding platform Zoomaal to launch her professional music career with the single Ohebbou Yadayka (“I Love Your Hands”). The project was backed by 119 contributors and reached its target of $25,000 on 19th April 2015. Faia released her debut album, A Sea Between Us, in March 2017. Reflecting on this experience, Faia expresses her pride, saying: “It is truly remarkable that my audience and fans contributed to the production of my first song because they believed in me and my voice and I will be forever grateful. I have a deep connection with my audience.”

Throughout her career, Faia has encountered numerous milestones including many collaborations which she deeply cherishes with poets and composers and even international bands such as the renowned British brand Gorillaz. However, Faia shares that the turning point in her life was “the first video I released with my sister back in 2014 that went viral and opened the door to countless opportunities”. It is called Li Biladi which means “To Our Countries.” Faia, whose family hails from Syria, used the video to speak out about what they describe as the “crazy, selfish and illogical war” that has been ongoing in Syria”.

“I have a strong sense of belonging to the Levant region, it resonates with this and my identity.” With her Assyrian and Chaldean heritage, Faia’s roots run deep in the rich tapestry of Syrian culture, giving her a profound connection to the Levant region and its captivating identity. In 2016 Faia was a guest of honour and joined a tour with The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians brought together and aided by Damon Albarn, she performed with them at Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall.

Deconstructed striped shirt dress, cotton, MOSCHINO. Oversized ear pendants, glass stones on brass, GIAMBATTISTA VALLI

Faia is also proud of being from the whole Arab region and represent the culture. The classical Arabic language known as “Fus’ha” holds significant meaning for Faia, she explains, “Fus’ha is our common language, its magic unites us across the Arab world. I love poetry and the Arabic language and calligraphy from an aesthetic standpoint. It is one of the richest languages in the world in terms of expressions and words; it is both melodic and poetic.”

“In my last album, I challenged myself by singing in different dialects alongside Fus’ha. It shows that, despite our varying dialects, we are united through Fus’ha,” Faia shares. “The nations which are not connected with their language are not connected with their identity, therefore we need to celebrate our culture,” she adds.

The resurgence of Fus’ha is evident through various events celebrating this classic Arabic standard and showcasing Arabic culture through music and literature, Faia was a part of some of these events, “I was honoured to be part of the Singing in Fus’ha Festival in Saudi Arabia alongside some iconic names in the Arabic music scene who sing poems in Fus’ha, such as Kadim Al Sahir and Majida El Roumi. Additionally, in the UAE, there are numerous initiatives that focuse on preserving Arabic Fus’ha, including Expo Arabic Language Summit.”

Summer, a season of vibrant happenings, holds a special place in Faia’s heart. She remarks: “My birthday falls in summer—a season marked by the sun and abundant sunshine, which always instils hope. This summer, I have a new album to release, and I plan to participate in festivals and perform concerts in different countries like Egypt and Iraq. Summer symbolises the celebration of live music. As I prepare for my live concerts, I firmly believe that nothing can replace the magic and energy created in a live performance or theatre. It is an irreplaceable experience, even if we cannot see the energy that surrounds us.”

“I have always been fascinated by the world of Disney and its stories. I eagerly await the day that I can sing one of their movie tracks, especially in Fus’ha, as they now produce movies in Fus’ha,” Faia unveils. With a giggle, she concludes: “My life story is like a drama infused with a great sense of humour, a black comedy—a new genre that I have coined.” Despite the challenges and hardships that she has faced, Faia has a heart full of hope for the future where she envisions her life as a modern Disney movie and herself as the character of Moana.