Ines Belayouni, the talented Tunisian singer, embarked on an extraordinary journey from Tunisia to Los Angeles to fulfil her musical dreams. With a deep love for Jazz and Arabic music, impressive collaborations, and a versatile language repertoire, Ines’s story showcases her unwavering determination to achieve international acclaim in the music industry. In this interview, we dive into her unique journey, exploring her musical influences and the pivotal moments that have shaped her career.
Can you tell us about your early musical influences and how your family instilled a love for Jazz and Arabic music in you?
My parents instilled the love of music since I was a toddler. My mother grew up in France, she used to play a lot of classical music and popular French songs from various artists such as Edith Piaf, Charles Aznavour, Jaques Brel and many more. My father on the other hand, loved Arabic Music specifically Egyptian, soon I found myself singing with him the songs he would play in the car and he noticed that I was learning fast and sang in tune. When it comes to Jazz music, both of my parents introduced me to it with artists such as Armstrong, Miles Davis, Sinatra.
“Ijik el Khir” was a significant milestone in your career. How did the opportunity to collaborate with Sabry Mosbah on this track come about, and what impact did it have on your musical journey?
Following the Tunisian revolution that occurred in 2011, our country and us as citizens, experienced violent and scary events for a few months, that changed the course of history. Ijik El khir is the soundtrack of a documentary produced by Coca Cola. This Anthem is an invitation to all Tunisians to express the solidarity found in each of us, which was much needed following the state of turmoil the country was in, and to be reminded that we should remain United. The song was a success, touched many hearts, brought some joy amid the chaos, and for us as artists brought fame, and exposed us to a larger audience through radio and tv appearances.
You were part of the project “Imraa Wahida,” the Arabic version of the song “One Woman,” which was produced for UN Women. Can you share your experience working on this project and performing at the Cairo Opera House on International Women’s Day in 2014?
It was an incredible experience and a memory dear to my heart. I met wonderful and talented artists, singers, writers, producers and musicians. It was my first trip to Lebanon as well. A year later we had the opportunity to get together again and perform at Cairo Opera house. I remember vividly the night we performed, how proud we were to be part of such an amazing and powerful project that aimed to spread a message of unity and solidarity.
You’ve had the opportunity to perform at prestigious events and on various TV and radio shows in Tunisia. Can you share a memorable experience from one of these performances or interviews that had a significant impact on your career?
One of the most memorable experiences was performing at the American Embassy for Independence Day in July 2016. It was such an honor, especially having met The Ambassador of the United States appointed at that time, who gave me great advice, encouraged me to move to the US and aim for an international career. Another memorable event was when I sang the Tunisian National Anthem A cappella for Europe day, I was contacted by the ambassador of European Union appointed in Tunisia back then, who also gave me amazing opportunities and never seizes to encourage me throughout my career till this day. I remain deeply grateful for both of these honorable men, who trusted me as an artist and believed in my potential.
Moving to Los Angeles is a major step in your journey to become an internationally recognised artist. What prompted your decision to relocate, and how has this move influenced your musical career and style?
Tunisia provided a great underground scene for me to evolve as an artist and reinforced my will to pursue a career in singing, but I always wanted more. As being an artist in Tunisia is not easy, I felt stuck, especially when you prefer singing in English. I have always wanted to move to the United States, since my first trip ever, back in 2004. I never lost hope, I have always believed in myself and my potential and wanted to make this dream come true. I was aware of the hardship ahead of me but that did not scare me. I had to get out of this comfort zone I was in, to embrace this adventure. I don’t think there is a better place to do it than the United States, it is the land of opportunities, I feel respected as an artist. I simply feel in my element.
You’ve mentioned your versatility in singing in multiple languages. How do you approach adapting your musical style and expression when singing in different languages, and do you have a favourite language to perform in?
I grew up speaking Arabic and French, I learned how to sing Arabic music from a very young age. Later on when I heard Whitney Houston, I fell in love with her voice and knew at that moment that I wanted to mostly sing in English. I have always been extremely curious of other cultures and languages. When I hear a song that I like, I will be wanting to sing it, thus adding Spanish and Italian to my repertoire. When singing in different languages, I make sure I understand the song even though I don’t speak the language to be able to convey emotions. Understanding the words you are singing is very important.
Could you share some insights into your current and upcoming projects? What can your fans expect from you in the near future as you continue to pursue your musical dreams in Los Angeles?
Last April, I released the first single of an upcoming Ep. The song is entitled “Attention” it is a pop rnb anthem that my producer Jamelle Adisa and I have worked on and co-wrote. We released a music video on YouTube and the song is available on all platforms. We recorded a few other songs and will be ready to release the EP by December hopefully. As I speak fluent Arabic and French I believe in music fusion, I am proud of where I come from and I consider myself lucky to be diverse and to be able to add a taste of my culture in the music I work on. Stay tuned!
For more information on Ines Belayouni visit her website.