Today Australian pop/R&B singer-songwriter Wafia returns with a confident new single called “Pick Me.” It’s her first release of 2020 and a resplendent breakup track told from the perspective of the person breaking it off.
“Just writing it without considering my ex’s feelings was important to me because it really isn’t about him,” Wafia tells American Songwriter over email of the track. “I felt like I had to be really honest without tiptoeing around it because that’s genuinely how I felt about breaking things off.”
“Pick Me” opens with a twinkling piano hook before Wafia’s glossy vocals come in: “I’ve always adored ya / but you like me better / backed up in the corner,” she sings as electronic beats start to build. “I don’t wanna go there / but every time we fight / it feels like keepin’ my head / over water.”
The chorus sees Wafia choosing herself—and her independence—over her ex: “You make all the millions / don’t you understand / all that’s gonna happen / if you go to force my hand / I pick me,” she sings. “Everyday / every night / every single week / I pick me up / when you’re holding me down / I get up and leave / I pick me.”
Wafia co-wrote the track with her collaborators John Hill, Caroline Ailin, and Chong the Nomad. “John has been overseeing my whole project so together we’ve been doing sessions with new people and that day happened to be with Caroline and Chong,” she recalls. “The song itself came together really quickly—I had been talking to Caroline about a recent break up and I said ‘I pick me every time’ and we knew then that had to be the song.”
Wafia has said before of her songwriting in general that “I tend to start with a feeling. I think that’s the most important thing for me to capture in every song that I try to write. The best thing I can do is try to convey that feeling and go from there.”
In another interview, the Iraqi-Syrian artist—born Wafia Al-Rikabi—said that “my parents were very nomadic so we jumped from place to place,” and that “growing up, there was always Arabic music playing in the house so sometimes I find my harmonies are geared a bit more towards that.” The 26-year-old singer-songwriter still enjoys the Arabic music she grew up listening to in the early aughts.
“I listen to so much Arabic music, probably more than English music these days just because it reminds me of my family and I really miss them these days,” she explains. “I love Farouiz, Najwa Karam, Hatem Al Iraqi, and Nancy Adjram, but everything I listen to is like the equivalent of early 00’s Arabic music.”
Though Wafia grew up in Australia, she recently moved to Los Angeles, which might partially explain why she misses her family so much. “Luckily I’ve been building myself a little community of friends and peers here for a while, so when I finally made the move it didn’t feel daunting,” she says of the transition. “I did just start trying to drive and that is wild.”
“Pick Me” is Wafia’s first single as a solo artist following 2019’s “Flowers & Superpowers” and 2018’s “I’m Good.” Last year she also released “Hurts” (featuring Louis The Child and Wethan), and was featured on Ekali’s “Be Fine.” Still, she’s best known for her feature on Louis The Child’s “Better Not (with Wafia),” which appeared on his 2018 Kids At Play EP.
Asked what fans can expect from Wafia in 2020, the singer-songwriter promises more new music but stops short of confirming another EP or announcing her highly-anticipated debut album.
“I’m finally about to start putting out the music I’ve been working on for the last couple of years,” she says. “I’m really proud of this project and I can’t wait for people to hear it.”
“Pick Me” is out today.