At 28 years old, half-Greek sensation Xenia Ghali, a classically trained musician, music producer, songwriter, and self-taught DJ, has turned her label into a household name not to mention becoming an inspiring role model for young girls wanting to pursue a career in the music industry. As a DJ, Xenia has headlined across Europe, performing at Colour Day Festival, Summer Paradise in Lindos Island, and Summer Beach Festival. She has played at world renowned clubs Cielo in New York, Cavo Paradiso Mykonos, and the Ministry of Sound London to name a few. With her record label Funky Sheep Records she writes and produces song-based dance records by fusing different sounds and genres into each record, never lacking passion or dedication in what she does.
Xenia can already claim two number one Billboard Dance singles, Places and Under These Lights, while releasing singles Broken and Get Dirty featuring Grammy Award winner Wyclef Jean, through Pitbull’s label Mr 305. Vice Greece, Huffington Post and AOL have raved about her music on an international level, while she has performed live on FOX 5 NY.
Music is not her only asset: this multi-talented woman has also elicited a wide variety of fashion and beauty collaborations with brands the calibre of Armani Exchange, Inglot, Yves Saint Laurent, Eastpak, and H&M and partnerships with Adidas and G-Star. She has even been included in the next generation of notable Adidas creators in support of the iconic Adidas Superstar resurgence. Meanwhile, she has been featured in Cosmopolitan Greece, Esquire Greece, Hello Greece, InStyle Magazine Greece, and Madame Figaro for her unique style.
Xenia splits her time between New York where her label is based, and Greece, where her heart lies. She took a break from her busy schedule to answer our questions.
When did you decide you wanted to follow a career in music?
My involvement with music started at a very young age. When I was five, I started playing classical piano and flute. Later on, around the age of 15, I learned to play the guitar and drums. From there, I formed an alternative rock band and began songwriting for the first time. That was when I realised that creating music was my true passion. After I graduated from high school I went to study music composition, film scoring, and production in the UK. Initially, I was going to follow a career as a music composer and film scorer; however while studying in the UK I got completely infatuated by DJs who were performing with vinyl records and turntables. I invested in a couple of secondhand Technics 1210s and 5 House vinyl records and started teaching myself how to mix. One thing led to another and I began playing small shows near my university. During one of these shows, a promoter approached me and told me that he organised parties at the Ministry of Sound in London and that he wanted me to DJ. The rest is history! That one incredible opportunity of playing at one of the most legendary clubs in the world shaped my career as a music producer and a DJ.
Do you have a preference between songwriting and DJing?
For me these are two very different things that go hand in hand. When I write, I express myself in the only way that feels the most comfortable to me. I am able to say things through my music that I can’t say with words or directly to people. When I perform, I experience the magic of communicating with the audience through the music and exchanging an energy more powerful than I’ve ever felt.
How do you go about choosing suitable songs to remix? Do you have a favourite style of music?
When I remix a song I always listen to the melody of the topline (aka the vocal/lyrics). I strip away all other musical elements and interpret the topline in my own way based on how it makes me feel or how it inspires me. If a topline doesn’t inspire me, I find it difficult to remix the song. Honestly, because I have studied many different genres of music ranging from classical to electronic I don’t have a favourite style of music. Music to me should touch the listener and should impact them in some way. If a song or track – regardless of its genre – does this to me, then I like it.
What exactly is your background and how have your Greek roots influenced your music style?
This is a bit of a complicated one. My mother is Greek, my father is Egyptian. I am both a Greek and American citizen and I was born in France. I grew up in Greece, so of course Greece and Greek culture are what feels like home to me. My Greek roots have definitely influenced my music style, meaning a lot of the melodies and music I write have a European vibe to them. The house and dance scenes are very popular in Greece which have highly influenced me as well. Additionally, I always say that my music is passionate, which is a very Mediterranean trait.
You’ve worked with some huge music artists such as Wyclef Jean and Pitbull. Have they given you any words of advice over the years?
I have had the honour of working with highly respected and popular artists and I am very thankful. Both Wyclef and Pitbull had two things in common with regards to their advice – work harder every day and always be humble.
Who would you like to collaborate with and why?
This is a very tough question! I could write an entire list for this one. However, one artist comes to mind immediately and that is Sia. I would love to experience what it would be like to write with her. I really admire her songwriting skills.
Have you considered performing in Australia?
Ever since I was a teenager Australia has literally been one of my dream destinations and now even more so. I would absolutely love to perform there as I have heard that the club scene is incredible. Plus I always wanted to learn how to surf; I kitesurf and wakeboard. I would be there in a heartbeat if the opportunity ever presents itself.
What is the most challenging part of what you do?
I don’t have much vacation time or the chance to see the people I love as much as I would like to.
You also have a very strong sense of style. When did you get interested in fashion?
I have always been interested in fashion. To me, music and fashion intertwine. Both are about passion and expression. It’s an experience, a mood with both music and fashion. My fashion interest keeps evolving when I get to work with new brands and or designers.
Any tours coming up, or projects lined up for the future?
My summer tour in Europe just wrapped up in September with over 30 dates including headlining three festivals. Currently, I am part of the iconic Adidas Superstar Resurgence campaign in Greece and continuing to be an ambassador for G-Star Raw Greece. I am so honoured to be one of the first women to be part of Tidal’s DJ Selector – check out my mixes at DJ Xenia Ghali – and a new release is coming out in January. I’m always in the studio writing and working on new music for 2018. My next European tour will start in May, so stay tuned – it’s going to be a very exciting year!
* Tidal is a subscription-based music streaming service that combines lossless audio and high-definition music videos with exclusive content, curated editorial and special features on music crafted by music journalists.
To listen to Xenia’s music go to https://listen.tidal.com/artist/4729121