Karl Wolf Adds More Layers To 15-Year-Old ‘Africa’ Single With Anniversary Remix
TORONTO – Karl Wolf says much of his success is down to his hit ‘Africa,’ which is why he decided to revisit the track with a new remix to mark its 15th anniversary.
The soft rock classic, originally released by American rock band Toto in 1982, found new life in the hands of the 43-year-old Lebanese-Canadian, who mixed his nostalgia with dance hall beats to make it his own pop radio hit. .
He hopes his latest remix will go further by attracting young listeners who have stumbled upon his social media profiles, where he dives into the details of his creative process.
“I wanted the next generation to feel what I felt hearing the original,” he said in a phone interview from Montreal. « It’s like another notch to my cover. »
“Africa: 4AM Remix,” which hits digital platforms on Friday, captures a mix of tropical house and electronica meant to appeal to Gen Z. Compared to its original cover, the new version has a faster tempo and a more pronounced layer of synths.
The song comes as Karl Wolf, born Carl Abou-Samah, embarks on his whirlwind national tour from November 24. The DIY tour will feature 19 shows over 25 days as he brings a version of his recording studio to the stage, giving fans a taste of how he creates music.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Abou-Samah has been sharing on social media how he produced his songs. When his video composing a different version of « Africa » exploded, currently amassing over a million views on TikTok, he wanted to officially release the full version of his remix.
« Most of my productions that I do live on TikTok go crazy viral and that’s kind of where the 4am and 3am vibes started, » he said.
He says the DIY tour was inspired by his journey from immigrating to Canada to becoming an established musician.
On stage, he will introduce fans to a « glorified and more embellished studio » space, showing how he created ‘Africa’, ‘Yalla Habibi’ and some of his other hits, with his social media videos helping to tell the story. . .
The inspiration for the 2007 remix of « Africa » struck him while listening to the dance hall in a cab in Montreal.
« I was like, ‘Man, that’s cool,' » he said. « And then I was like, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool to do an 80s record again?' »
It went through 43 different versions testing different sounds. Many early versions sounded like covers of Toto’s original recording, but later he added his own twist to them.
« I completely knocked it down, » he said.
The song turned into an R&B mix, which was again edited to add dance hall beats.
Record companies wouldn’t sign the song, he said, so he first released it himself. As it gained momentum on Billboard’s Canadian Hot 100, EMI Music Canada supported the song, helping it to number two on the Canadian Singles Chart in 2009.
Prior to the success of « Africa », Abou-Samah honed his skills as a producer and songwriter for other artists such as Quebec band Dubmatique and pop duo Sky, later becoming the lead singer of the third iteration. of the last.
When he ventured away from Sky to become a solo act, he didn’t see much chart success until the original « Africa » remix took off.
« I had tried so hard, and I hadn’t really won, well, at least not Top 20 or Top 30, » he said. « It was a big surprise. »
Fifteen years later, after the Canadian tour supporting the updated version of « Africa », he plans to embark on an international tour of Europe and the United States.
Abou-Samah said he also signed a music publishing deal with Kobalt Music and a licensing and promotion deal with digital distribution service ONErpm.
« Next year, 2023, is going to be a game-changer for me as well, » he said.
Throughout his career, Abou-Samah carried a sentiment from Deane Cameron, former president of EMI Music Canada, who died in 2019, who told him when he was hesitant to release his single « Yalla Habibi », to be faithful to himself.
« ‘You have to be real,' » he recalled.
This report from The Canadian Press was first published on October 25, 2022.
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