When one hears the electronic dance music (EDM) track Shisha on social media platforms, hints of Arabic, Turkish and Indian instruments and notes are obviously clear.
That is because its composer, Zaid Osta, is from Jordan and is being considered the Middle Eastern country’s youngest DJ and musician yet at 15 years’ old.
“Music is an international language in my point of view. That is why a lot of my music has a lot of Arabic notes and influences so that I could play in the western world so that they would have another perspective about the Middle East,” Osta told Al Arabiya News Channel’s morning show.
On why he named the track Shisha, the Arabic word for the hookah tobacco pipe, Osta says he did so not because he was targeting not an Arab audience, but a western one.
“I named it Shisha because I spent three months on the track but couldn’t figure out its title. I was thinking of Jordanian places like Wadi Rum or Petra and settled on Shisha because I wanted to grab a western attention. I wanted to tap into the electronic dance music (EDM) fans who are fervent supporters of that genre but introduce them to something with more Arabic influences,” Osta said.
The 15-year-old Jordanian first began playing the piano when he was as young as eight years old and he began creating melodies and compositions of his own making because of an itch to listen to music that he himself creates.
“I began watching videos on YouTube and asking friends who were playing instrument how to they compose their own work. I am self-taught and didn’t learn from any teacher or mentor. But despite that, I do hope to one day join a musically-focused university so that I could tap into my potential and grow even further,” he said.
The Jordanian musician is slowly gaining more attention in recent months after he got his first big break after opening Lebanese musician Marcel Khalife, considered a giant in Arabic music composition across the region. He’s gone on to play at music festivals in the Dead Sea and in Petra but hopes to play at a global stage one day.
His father says he has his family’s full support.
“Zaid first began learning to play the piano when he was seven years of age. He used to beat his hands on anything that he sees like on cupboards and tables so we began introducing him to drums,” his father told Al Arabiya.
“We are very supportive of him and want him to continue with his music and see where it takes him one day.”