It’s 6 p.m. in Dubai when Danny Aridi and I first speak. He’s so soft spoken and polite, it doesn’t come as a surprise when he tells me how shy he was as a child: the catalyst behind the songwriting and storytelling he’s made into his career. He performed for the first time in high school, a step that he says helped shape his personality and root his passion even deeper. Finding a way to communicate his thoughts through music, was (and has remained) therapeutic.
Raised in Lebanon and the UAE, Aridi made his way to Montreal in his late teens to attend Concordia University, and spent seven years in Canada. His first professionally recorded song, “Home”, was produced by Aridi in Montreal, as was the music video that accompanies it.
He would post videos of song covers weekly, but initially pursued a career in hospitality after graduating and moving back to Dubai. Aridi made the decision to give music a genuine go by competing in (and winning) not one, but two, contests: Virgin’s “Best Artist” competition, placing first among over 150 artists across the Middle East and North Africa, as well as the Emerging Talent Competition in Abu Dhabi, where he went up against over 250 singers from around the region.
Through the competitions, Aridi won a contract with Universal Music, and a position opening up for musical acts booked to perform on Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island, including Katy Perry, Post Malone, Guns N’Roses, and the Backstreet Boys. I can’t help but ask him about the different crowds he encountered, opening up for such a spectrum of musicians. He says the experiences were all positive, but his setlists obviously needed to be adjusted accordingly.
It’s hard to tell how soulful of a singing voice Aridi has through our phone conversation, but you can certainly hear it in his music. At times, he reminds me of a raspy George Ezra, and showcases an impressive vocal range.
“Wanderlust”, Aridi’s most recent single, and its music video, were a brainchild that begun on a recent trip to India. The video is stunning – a perfect accompaniment for the bright, sunny pop earworm, and Aridi is the person to thank for it. On top of writing his music, he also comes up with the concepts and storylines for the videos, and self-produces all of his content. He knew that he wanted to showcase the country and people he encountered, so he reached out to a friend in the Bollywood scene to collaborate. They rented a camera, went to four different cities, and hopped out of the car to film whenever they wanted.
“Wanderlust” certainly isn’t Aridi’s only visually stunning work; the videos he produced to accompany his singles “Solo” and “Home” show a deep creativity that goes beyond songwriting. When I ask where the ideas come from for his videos, Aridi tells me that it all happens at once – every song he writes is already accompanied by a visual story in his mind, the song and the idea for the video going hand-in-hand.
Each track is an individual entity, which explains why I wouldn’t necessarily categorize Aridi’s music as all in one genre of folk-pop, though much of his songs fit under that umbrella. His track “Fool For You” has definite rockabilly elements, and Aridi’s voice on the track is a bit rougher, more dangerous, than any of his other songs. His inspiration runs far and wide, but we’re bonded by a serious mutual love for Amy Winehouse. He loves Ray Charles and John Mayer, too, the latter of which he cites as an influence in his own music. He doesn’t want to emulate any musician’s career in particular, however; he’s perfectly happy carving his own path, whatever that may end up looking like.
For now, Aridi’s focused on exposure. He’d love to tour in North America, but the crossover is tough and slow coming. In the meantime, Aridi has many more stories to tell, and he’ll keep creating content. He’s showing the world what he’s made of – not only genuine talent, but determination and grit, too.