Sharjah-born, Beirut-raised and Dubai-living Dana Hourani is a talent for our times. Moving from fashion to visual arts to music with an enviably effortless swish. But if you ask her, she’ll tell you that, really, music is her thing.
YUNG sat down with Dana to discuss that thing, and how it has the power to change worlds (her own included).
YUNG: What’s your earliest memory of music?
Dana Hourani: I remember sneaking into my sister’s room when I was six years old to listen to Mariah Carey’s Music Box CD on her stereo. I would play the song “Without you” on heavy rotation. That was probably my first favourite tune and I would play it every chance I got.
How do live performances transform your personality?
I thought I had a fear of performance my whole life, up until the first time an audience passionately sang every lyric back to me. At that moment I felt an overpowering level of confidence I didn’t think existed in me. I finally understood the importance of feeding off and connecting with an audience on an emotional and in-person level. It was crucial for me to better understand myself as an artist, where I stood in the market and how to move forward with a bigger sense of purpose.
What was the inspiration behind the track “Enti Ana”?
It was initially written as an ode to the women in my life. I wanted it to reflect their strength as well as the influence of their capacity and presence. Throughout this whole process, my city Beirut was going through tough times, and somehow the words naturally began to mirror the resilience of our country just as much. This message had to be reflected, and so Enti Ana was dedicated to Beirut as the female warrior that built us all to be the woman this song was initially meant for.
You did a remake of Nancy Ajram’s classic “Yay”. How come?
To be honest there wasn’t much of a thought-out process behind choosing this song. It all happened by chance really. I was in the studio taking a break from working on my own tracks and decided to cover a classic just for a 30-second Instagram post and nothing more. My producer happened to be coming into the studio at that moment and we started to record it and play around with it. That’s when we decided it had to turn into something bigger than just a piece of content. We moved on to secure the rights for this, turned it into an official release, shot a music video, and soon after it was added as one of the official tracks in the album.
What does music mean to you?
To me, music is a way to connect. With myself first and then others. It is one of the few ways that help me find a root understanding of my emotional perceptions and responses. I think the most beautiful role of an artist is expressing those elements through music and holding the power to bring people together in so many ways.
What inspires you outside of music?
Mostly seeing other forms of expression could inspire me. Film, dance, art, fashion. Bonding with other artists and seeing a new perspective of work in their field. Anything that can create some sort of an imaginative connection to a part of oneself that isn’t always accessible. The simple things to like having a long profound conversation with a friend, new discoveries, places, or even just taking a break to disconnect. Inspiration is everywhere really, it’s just more about making a conscious effort of breaking the chains of habit and opening to it.
At what point did you realise you wanted music to be your medium of expression?
When I was 13 years old when I picked up the guitar, learned a few chords and realised that a medium of expression could exist in my world. It was always an escape from whatever was happening in different stages of my life. There were many times when that was the only thing that felt good. So, I kept doing it until I was able to put my own thoughts and lyrics into a song and create.
Is there a moment in your life that you look back on and think, wow, that changed my life?
I think what changed my life is more a collective of many small moments adding up to make (and continue to make) that change. I do believe in the power of manifestation and so having that constant drive or passion in my subconscious naturally led me to all the stepping stones. Even when I didn’t know I was doing it. I know that when you want something bad enough your inner impulse will have a big impact on your daily actions. And I believe the accumulation of those actions is what changed my life.