Greek DJ and producer tops charts for the second time
International DJ and producer Xenia Ghali is currently on tour following the success of her latest single, “Places.” The dance record featuring Raquel Castro topped the Billboard charts when it was released last May, and continues to be a hit in clubs around the world. The single is actually the second from Ghali to reach Billboard’s No. 1, with “Under These Lights” being the first to garner the coveted spot. Taking control of her own brand, Ghali also founded her own record label, Funky Sheep Records, and confidently balances business with her creative passions. While jetsetting across the world, she took the time to speak to FM Hip Hop about her growing fan base and how she got started in the industry. Check out the #FMFeline interview below!
FM HIP HOP: How are things going tour? Do you love being on the road and interacting with new fans?
XENIA GHALI: It has been a very busy summer for sure. Compared to other years, this is the busiest I’ve been. It’s amazing for me because performing is one of my favorite things on Earth. I just finished a five-day, back-to-back situation where I was going from one Greek island to another, so that was tiring and gratifying at the same time. Other than that, I headlined a couple festivals so far– the Colour Day Festival [in Athens, Greece], which was around 150,000 people at the Olympic Stadium. Then I just headlined another festival with Cedric Gervais. I’m [touring] through September.
FM: Where do you find your most diehard fans?
XG: The people that genuinely support me are in very different parts of the world– parts that I’ve never even been to myself. I have a very strong fan base in Spain. One of the official fan accounts on Instagram is from a girl who’s from Spain. And then, of course, I have a very strong fan base in Greece and in the States– which are basically the two markets I’ve been working the most.
FM: What has changed since the success of “Places”?
XG: [“Places” and “Under These Lights”] were both singles that I released at the time and didn’t really anticipate were going to get anywhere in terms of charting, or anything like that. I just produced the records, wrote the records, loved them, released them, and then they did their thing. Having two No. 1s on Billboard is definitely something that a lot of people acknowledge and have shown me a lot of respect for. Having said that, I work ten times as hard after the No. 1s because that’s just my nature. I get to a certain point, and then I just want to get to the next level, so I push myself even harder. And then I have a fantastic team that works alongside me very efficiently and very hard.
FM: You have talents as a DJ and a producer– which is your first love?
XG: It’s very interesting that you’re asking that because I never wanted to do either of the two, initially. I started off playing classical piano and flute. I’m classically trained on both instruments. Then when I was 15, I went through a grunge stage and I wanted to be Joan Jett [laughs]. So I taught myself how to play the guitar and drums. That’s when I started songwriting, when I was in a band. Then, because I’m classically trained, I decided that film scoring was actually what I wanted to do. So I went to the university to study film scoring.
While I was in the UK, I started going to a lot of house music parties and engaging in the jazz culture. Growing up in Greece, I really experienced a lot of jazz music because it’s very much a part of the culture in Greece. I started noticing that the DJs were playing with vinyl and turntables, and I was really infatuated by that whole scene. I ended up saving money and investing in a couple of second-hand turntables. I set them up in my dorm room, and started teaching myself how to DJ with vinyl. Because I was performing a lot of electronic music, I started producing it, and that’s how I started doing it. I don’t love one thing over another… but I can’t imagine myself not doing either.
FM: What are some of your professional goals?
XG: I would definitely love to collaborate with a few more artists. I’ve already had some incredible collaborations– Wyclef Jean being one of them, Pitbull being someone else, and of course, recently, Raquel Castro on “Places.” I would really love to collaborate with more writers, artists, and producers. I love the feeling of really creating something with another individual that has a voice and can teach me something that I may not already know. My favorite people to collaborate with are people who have nothing to do with what I do. I think using two completely different vibes makes the most incredible result. That excites me.
Also, I’d love to explore other markets and other countries, and be able to perform in those areas as well. And then just keep making music! I want to build on my discography, and constantly create things that I really love and that hopefully people enjoy listening to, are inspired by, and can relate to.
FM: Do you plan to sign other artists to Funky Sheep Records?
XG: So far, I’m trying to focus on my own brand as far as [being] an artist before I take on other artists and producers. I just want to make sure that when I do, I’m able to focus on them 100 percent because I’ve already established myself to the point that I’m happy with. So currently, I’m focused on releasing my own stuff, whether it’s independently or as a joint venture with another label. Hopefully in the future, when I get more settled and have established the things I want to establish, I can start focusing on other artists and producers. I would love to support.
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