Dubai: Emirati singer-songwriter Abdullah Al Shamsi — who goes by the stage name “Not So Human” — is making waves on social media in the UAE.
The 22-year-old singer from Abu Dhabi just released his single “Love it Up” and it is being well received on various platforms like You Tube, TikTok, Apple Music and others.
But for the young Emirati, it was a cover song he did — “Talking to The Moon” by the pop icon Bruno Mars in 2019 — that made him popular on social media.
In an interview with Gulf News, Al Shamsi said he been inspired by his family and the environment he grew up in to take up music on a professional level.
“I was raised with a passion for music and developed a leaning towards pop and acoustic R&B. I believe music is therapeutic as it touches an individual’s soul,” said Al Shamsi, an award-winning Emirati singer for his outstanding vocals and multi-instrumental talents.
Why the name ‘Not So Human’
“The name stems from when I was younger. I felt different from my peers and felt I did not fit in with them.”
Shamsi said as a child, he had a problem relating to people around him. “I even questioned my existence — hence the name ‘Not So Human’.”
He added: “Later, I grew up learning that the differences made me more unique than weird and that being weird is actually being special. I embraced this difference in me and it made me feel significant.”
Al Shamsi said: “It was not a dream as a child to be a celebrity. Sports was a big element of my life.”
He played a number of sports – Volleybal, Jujitsu, swimming — but it was basketball that stuck with him. “I am not tall so it was rather unique as to how I took to basketball.”
I started leaning towards other interests and music became part of my life. The turning point was when my mother surprised me with a guitar and the rest is history.
Al Shamsi said, sadly, following a nerve injury to his right hand, he was forced to give up the sport.
That did not stop him from reaching new heights.
“I started leaning towards other interests and music became part of my life. The turning point was when my mother surprised me with a guitar and the rest is history.”
Shamsi – who is in the fourth year of university – studying Cyber Security at Abu Dhabi Polytechnic — is the oldest of four siblings. “There are a lot of expectations from me. Yet my family has supported me through and through in all my creative aspirations.”
Falling in love with the guitar
Al Shamsi recalled how he was mesmarised with a neighbour’s guitar.
“When I would visit them [the neighbours], I would sit staring at my friend play the guitar. I felt an urge to express myself through this instrument. It was also the time when Ed Sheeran was blowing up the charts, acoustic guitar was getting really popular as well.
"All this made me fall in love with music, song creation and playing the guitar. Soon I was borrowing the guitar from my friend. My mother saw me learning the instrument really fast. She decided to spring a surprise on me. I woke up one morning to see a box next to my bed. It changed my life forever.”
Debut song and social media frenzy
“Love it Up” is a summer song, with a beachy vibe, explained Al Shamsi.
Today, Al Shamsi has more than 235,100 followers on TikTok, over 4.2 million likes on his content and over 12,300 followers on Instagram. “The cover received such positive feedback that it made me determined to showcase my love for different genres of music, adding the element of diversity in my work.”
In 2021, he was named “Artist of the Year,” by EMMA for Peace and Aqdar World Summit for singing songs of other artists.
“It feels surreal producing my first song. My aim now is to motivate other talents and encourage them to follow their dreams, accept their passion for music as one universal language.”
Album coming up
“I have more music coming up. I am writing more songs and will hopefully release my first album soon.”
“My hope is to aspire other young Emiratis. The UAE government has such a great environment set up for local artists to thrive. Young Emirates should not fear starting their creative journey. Don’t stop yourself. Do what your heart and mind tells you.”