Wafia wants you to know that she’s been growing. Her new EP Good Things is her first in 2 years and it introduces us to a vastly different artist - one that sounds lighter and liberated. It’s an interesting takeaway from a project that’s essentially the result of a breakup but such is the nature of Wafia’s songwriting. This isn’t about reflecting on the past with malice, it’s about acknowledging it and using to move forward. Growth.
“I pick me,” she sings on the featherlight Pick Me while on the boisterous title track she proclaims, “my glow is gold, yeah, baby I'm shinin'.”
On the phone from Los Angeles where she’s riding out the pandemic, Wafia beams. She’s invested in the self-care message of the EP but she’s also astutely aware that it doesn’t come without pain.
“I think it was very deliberate, not to make this about my ex,” she says.
“This is about me...Why would someone stepping into my life when I'm treating myself negatively treat me any better than how I see myself?”
Wafia has been releasing music since 2015 when she released her debut EP XXIX. Largely produced by Ta-Ku, it was a stunning display of honest songwriting and crystalline vocals. As good as it was though, looking back on it now reveals something different. In Wafia’s words, “that girl was so sad and shy.”
Over the course of 5 years, she’s stretched herself, finding more confidence in every move. 2018’s VIII powerfully merged pop and politics while her Louis The Child collaboration Better Not saw her embrace pop superstardom. That same year, she released I’m Good, a cheeky, assured cut that set the blueprint for her leap-forward.
“I think the music is a byproduct of making these deliberate acts in my personal life,” she says talking about the personal trajectory.
“If I was in a dark place the music would be but I think stepping out of it, making really conscious decisions to grow and better myself and find the light in things is definitely a new mindset.”
The light pours through on Good Things whether that be through the lush, psychedelic daydream of Flowers & Superpowers or the calm found through the chaos on Hurricane. Even when she laments on a faded friendship on heartfelt EP closer How To Lose A Friend, it sounds like an exercise in processing loss. It needs to happen so that she can reach giddy high points like the title track.
“It’s necessary for growth to shed the bad skin,” she explains when asked why she decided to close out an upbeat EP with a heartwrenching ballad.
The mindset of the album’s optimistic proclamations isn’t something that’s happened overnight. It’s not even one that Wafia can tap into every day but she’s working on it and admits sometimes you’ve gotta “fake it.”
“You see other people doing it and you think, I want a little bit of that,” she says.
“It's like wearing something new for the first time. Often that comes from watching someone else where it before you.”
Flowers & Superpowers, the first song to be released off the record felt like something new for Wafia. In a sense, it was a palette cleanser, re-introducing us to a Wafia full of clarity. “That did the thing that I wanted it to do so perfectly,” she says, continuing that she’s ok if she’s never able to, “replicate that musicality,” again because it felt so good in the moment.
While Flowers & Superpowers is subtle, Good Things is loud and proud. It’s the closest thing to a banger she’s ever made. “It felt good to hit the nail on the head and be unapologetic about it,” she says about a song that contains A+ lines like, “It’s always a good day/To rub you the wrong way.”
The next chronicle for Wafia is the album and she’s been studying the classics for it, namely, Marvin Gaye’s Here, My Dear: “It chronicles the story of a breakup but, again, it’s not about that person.”
“It goes through like the stages of grief. Like there's anger, there's sadness and I very much like that. With that, comes the other side of it and what that other side looks like.”
She feels comfortable sharing these stories with trusted collaborators like Australian songwriter Sarah Aarons and producer John Hill but she’s also willing to let new faces into her world.
“There are some new people on the on this EP but then like they make more appearances in the music that is to come,”
Wafia’s world is opening up in front of us. She’s got good things going on.