CANNES: Los Angeles-based Haitian French singer and songwriter Naika, who is most known for her song “Sauce,” which featured on an Apple commercial, and international hit “Ma Cherie,” headed to SRMG Beach during the Cannes Lions fest to talk about her appearances in Saudi Arabia.
She reflected on her performance in AlUla last year at the iconic all-mirrored Maraya venue, and her show in December at the largest music festival in the Middle East, MDLBEAST’s Soundstorm.
She told Arab News: “In the beginning I didn’t know anything about Saudi. And I’ve come to now feel like it has a piece of my heart … It was so cool to see that people were listening to my music.”
She collaborated with local talent Wed, a Saudi fashion designer, to bring out the aesthetic of her music at AlUla.
She added: “It doesn’t even strike me as something that I would even second guess. There’s so much out there, and I think it’s important to showcase all the talents from everywhere around the world.
“I have the opportunity to travel and meet people from everywhere around the world, so if I can collaborate just to discover for myself, but also through my platform for other people to discover, I think it’s a beautiful thing.
“I have Middle Eastern ancestry, so it was a beautiful discovery for me, especially in Saudi. Just as an artist and musician, to see the reforms that are going on in the country was so interesting. It was beautiful to go and meet the people and hear what they have to say and how they feel about it.”
The social changes in the Kingdom are giving rise to greater diversification in creative arenas, and Naika said: “It’s present in LA, and I'm actually just discovering that.”
The singer now believes that the only way is up for Arab artists having seen the amount of talent in the country during her visits to the Kingdom.
She said: “There’s no reason for it not to (prosper). There’s Arab presence everywhere around the world, wherever you go. You’ll always find the culture there.”
Naika has lived in various cities around the globe. Mastering the art of fusing English, French, and Haitian Creole in her lyricism through sultry melodies is merely a product of her upbringing. The more she has engaged with people, the more she realizes how others feel the same.
She said: “It’s hard not to be (connected) because there’s social media now … I think most of us feel this international connection more than we realized.”
And, enchanted by the magic of the desert, Naika wants to return soon.
“I can tell you right now, it’s definitely in my future plans to return (to the Kingdom) and to keep cultivating that relationship because I love the country, I love the people, I love the culture,” she said.