It is great to see the growing female rock talent in the UAE, we caught up with WIlma, who recently wowed us with her voice at the Cultural Night market held at Safa park.
Tell us a bit about yourself, where are you from and how did you end up in Dubai?
I’m from a city on the coast of Baltic Sea where it rains about 300 days a year. My mom’s a jeweller and my dad’s a painter. I picked up piano at the age of 3, started writing songs at 13. Other than music, I get my kicks from sailing, acro yoga, a pint of ice-cold beer and cigars.
I like taking pictures of people while they’re unaware of it, and painting is something I do to wind down and heal my crowd phobia. I’m an incurable dreamer and I’ve always wanted to live in New York, and this is how I ended up in UAE: after another year of studying yet another master out of 4 unfinished ones, I got a last minute call for a resident gig in Jordan. Thinking this would be a good start exploring the world and went for it without giving much thought. Next came Abu Dhabi and then Dubai. It was supposed to be 6 months, but somehow I’ll be closing my 12th year in January.
Who are your musical influences?
My musical influences range from early jazz giants and hippie era sounds to classic rock and modern day metal heads. Too random to make sense. Education in classical and jazz music is something I pursued, but getting out there and just doing it was something that I enjoyed more than anything, so I worked with anything that was around and available.
At age 14 I landed my first job as a church organist, 16 came musical theatre, and a few jazz festivals with the backing of a full big band at age 18. Moving to UAE changed things around a lot. Jazz scene didn’t exist back in 2001, so I ended up singing a lot of covers, because that’s what people wanted to hear. I used to joke having sold out, but eventually it all was an important part of this whole experience.
What makes you love music?
I want to say it’s the never ending soundchecks and the ever-mystifying webs of tangled cables, but no one’s gonna buy that A few reasons amongst the many: the fact that I can always say “I love my job”, the flow of energy I get playing with different musicians and the way each of them triggers different aspects of myself to be expressed. The way it’s that one part of me that never changes and yet is always new. The randomness-driven lifestyle.
You are a singer and songwriter, which is your favourite original song and can you tell us about it?A. “Fortune Frames of Time” is one song that I’m proud of. The title is my fancy little term for moments. Some of the songs evolve slowly; some never get finished because whatever inspired it is no longer of any significance. This song was written in 10 minutes.
It is a break up song in disguise, reflecting life in general: first impressions, friendships and what makes them last or fall apart, intuition, opinions that others impose on us, about trust, deception and the frailties of love. Lots of new things have happened in my life since this song was written, but the meaning of it is still valid and I guess will always be.
What do you do as a day job?
I’m a full time musician.
What do you think of the music scene in the UAE for professional musicians like yourself?
Apart of being probably the only country that has no local music on the radio and fines people for rocking up on stage in a jam or talking to their friends that came to support you at your gig, the scene looks more promising every year, lots of great talent and fun people to play with.
Describe your voice in two words.
Really?! I was told not to sing when I was little; coming up with self-praise is not exactly my area of expertise Steel dipped in honey? No, that’s 4 words… A child of Rock & Retro? … ok ok, got it: I’m loud.