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Xenia Ghali on How Gender has Nothing to do with Ability, Skill, Talent, Passion and Potential in the Music Production Game

Xenia Ghali, a classically trained musician turned DJ superstar gives insights on International Woman's Day about how starting her own label due to lack of opportunity eventually took her career off the ground.

Often, when young producers enter the music industry, they can feel defeated if they don’t see mentors that look like them.  Women producers often work with producers of color because they bond over embarking on the journey of making an impact.  Xenia Ghali who gained international success over working with such acts like Wyclef Jean and Pitbull pays homage to those who have helped her on her rise.  She often mentions it being honorable to work with them.

For many women artists on the rise; it is not where you come from, but what you do with such musical gifts that will determine where you will go.

Let’s take a rewind. In 2012, Xenia was an aspiring master’s student at New York University who had never thought of what it would be like to be a DJ on tour. She eventually had to start her own label because there were no opportunities for her at the time, so she made her own. Funky Sheep Records now not only allows her to have creative freedom over her own music, but also allows her to assist other producers as well.

Xenia really set the tone for her own career with her biggest track yet in the summer of 2016, ‘Under These Lights’, which reached #1 in the Billboard Dance Club Songs Chart and was followed up with ‘Places’, which also hit the top spot. This further reaffirmed her abilities and provided proof that Xenia is a talent that is set to stay on top.

Let’s get her thoughts on where she see’s her career going, and on her synergy of blending classically trained techniques with vibrant new age beats. 

You’ve stated before that there are a lot of really talented women producers and DJs on the rise, and you hope to see them more in the industry.  What would you tell young woman starting off in the production game?

First, the most important thing is to, believe in yourself.  As cheesy as that may sometimes sound, I can’t stress how vital that is.

The next thing I would say, is that they would need to be prepared to hear a lot of “No’s.” However, instead of being disheartened, they should become even more persistent and learn from a potential mistake or reason which led to hearing that “No.”

Lastly, gender has absolutely nothing to do with ability, skill, talent, passion and potential.

You have mentioned wanting to work with Sia, what other woman artist would you want to ‘collab’ with?

I would love to work with Billie Eillish.

As a classically trained musician starting with learning the piano and flute at the age of five, moving on to playing the drums in a band in high school, and then going to earn a Master’s at the prestigious New York University in Film Scoring, Music Composition and Production – was being a world renowned DJ ever what you had thought of for your future?  

To be honest no, that wasn’t my goal. I started DJing because I started going to underground house parties when I was studying in the United Kingdom, and I was completely intrigued by the DJs who were spinning on vinyl. I saved up money, bought a couple of technics turntables and taught myself how to DJ because it was something I completely felt in love with.

I never thought I would do this for a living. In fact, I was studying to become a film composer.

You’re now topping dance charts, would you do classical music again?

Definitely! I plan on doing so in the future. It is my dream to score a film.

What made you want to open your own independent label? 

Initially, I started [Funky Sheep Records] to distribute my own music, since at the time I didn’t have any deals with other labels. The amazing thing about today’s market is that with the aid of technology, new artists are able to have their work heard and with smart planning and strategy they can become extremely successful even completely independently.

What are some challenges that you came across when opening this label that you would tell to other women wanting to open their own label? 

Honestly, I don’t even know where to begin from — like on what my distribution situation would be, to how to establish the label as a company, to how to market my own records, to license deals with other labels around the world.

Where do you see the label going?

Ideally, as I grow as an artist, I would love to use the label to sign new and independent artists who need a platform to be heard.

You’re a fashion ambassador in some aspects. You have now come to work with global brands like Samsung, Adidas, and G-Star Raw. What appeals to you about how music affects fashion and how fashion affects music?

For me the two always went hand in hand, both are art forms with incredibly rich histories that communicate human emotion, aesthetic and creativity.

You recently released the music video for ‘Lay In Your Arms’ which is very creative and fashion-focused, do you think your involvement in both worlds help with the direction of the videos?

It definitely helps with the direction, but I am also very lucky to have a fantastic team around me.

Your next single ‘Dopamine’ is released on the 15th March on Sirup Music, what can fans expect from the single and what was the inspiration behind it?

You can expect something completely different to anything I’ve released so far! This in contrast to anything else I’ve released in on down tempo side however still very much remaining a dance record. The inspiration behind it is the absolute euphoric feeling that comes with love.

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