Having originally gained attraction by posting videos on Musical.ly to a considerable fanbase of over 1.5 million followers, newcomer Houssein is on a mission to prove himself as an emerging talent as opposed to simply an influencer. We caught up with pop’s newest Prince to discuss his new single and a possible collaboration with Shaggy!
How did you become so phenomenally huge on musical.ly – what’s the secret?
It was a combination of various things, such as posting regularly, trying to be creative with my content and filming with friends who also had large followings.
When did you decide that you wanted to start taking your music career more seriously – has it always been a passion and priority of yours?
Music has always been my priority, I started with musical theatre in the West End when I was young, and I went on some tours – but I always aspired to be a pop artist, and social media was such a useful tool in allowing me to reach a large audience.
As an artist, how do you feel when you’re labeled as an ‘influencer’?
I’ve spent the last year working with writers, producers and my live band, and really developing myself as an artist and putting this content out to my audience, so lately I don’t get labeled as an ‘influencer’ all that often, but if someone does call me that, I am not really bothered. I appreciate those who take my artistry seriously, and who enjoy my music, and I’m grateful for the platform that social media has given me.
It must be pretty overwhelming being so young and having so much success across social media – how have you handled the pressure of your success?
I am someone who loves to work, but perhaps that is because I never feel like I’m working when I’m making music, or planning my live set or whatever I may be doing. Any pressure that I feel is always positive, as it’s just a pressure to make better songs and be more engaging online. Making music and pushing to reach my next goal or to improve my tracks is the most rewarding and enjoyable feeling for me.
What tips would you give to anyone wanting to start an Instagram or a YouTube channel?
Just start posting – you don’t need to buy the best microphone or camera, you just need to have a good idea.
Your new single ‘Summer Night’ is perfect for the summer. What initially inspired the track?
I worked with Ed Carlisle and Steve Hughes, who came up with a song concept of ‘Summer Love’ and we spent some time jamming this song in the studio on the guitar… we had previously written a song, which is my next release, that was very big and melodic sounding, so we wanted to make a track that was a bit more fast pace and with a feel good summer vibe, that became Summer Night. I feel my love for Grease and ‘Summer Nights’ may have had some influence over this.
How do you see your musical style evolving over the next few years?
I think that my music will mature as I mature, and as I’ve been working with writers/producers over the last year, I think I have sonically found a style that works well for me, that will become more and more evident as I continue to release new tracks. I am always open to exploring new sounds, such as one of my upcoming tracks that is a lot more acoustic, as opposed to my electronic sound. I would really love to hone in on my lyrical ability as I develop as an artist.
If you could have written a song by any other artist, which would you claim as your own?
‘Wonderful’ By Angel – my favourite song of all time.
Who would be your dream collaboration and what do you think that song would sound like?
There are so many great artists, so this is a very hard question to answer. I love and respect Ed Sheeran, like everyone else, so obviously he would be a pleasure to work with. I also think Stormzy is very cool, so is Troye Sivan, and I would also love to have a track featuring Shaggy as his voice is so unique. There are so many other artists, producers and writers that I’d love to collaborate with, and who I could learn so much from, but I’ll leave it at those four for now.
What’s your favourite social media platform and why?
Probably Twitter, even though I don’t actually use it as often as my other platforms… but it’s so easy to reach my fans and engage with people in a way that is not really possible on other platforms.
How important do you feel that social media is in a new artists career – is it a help or a hindrance?
Obviously some artists are categorised as ‘YouTubers’ or ‘Social Media Stars’ which may be a hindrance, in terms of being accepted into the music industry. But I personally think that this mindset is slowly fading, as we see more and more artists, actors and celebrities embracing social media to the full extent. Anyone can post onto social media, and if you have talent, then people will listen and hopefully that online traction can be moulded into a music career, so I see it as a massive help.
What else can we expect from you for the rest of the year?
Quite a few new tracks, my biggest live performances so far, more online videos that show the development of me as an artist and some television appearances.
Photography: @mariekemacklon / Marieke Macklon