We had the good fortune of connecting with Rawan Chaya and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Rawan, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
My work-life balance changed drastically in 2019 when I began to pursue music full-time in LA. I didn’t realize how much I would have to sacrifice to chase my dream of being an international artist. I had to learn to balance multiple jobs, while simultaneously making music full-time. I struggled with this new routine of being alone so often in order to be productive and achieve my goals. When friends/family would ask me to go out, the answer was more than often a “no”. Thankfully, they understood that I had to maintain a certain routine if I wanted to make an impact.
Eventually, I found a balance that worked for me. I started treating music like a job; in the sense that I clock in and out instead of making music when I’m inspired. This created a sense of discipline and helped me become a more efficient singer/songwriter.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I was always drawn to music from a very young age. I loved being on stage and interacting with people through music. I was rebellious as a child because I felt misunderstood in my community and the only way I escaped my environment was through singing; I would get lost in trying to master Christina Aguilera’s songs.
I grew up in a culture that was very traditional and failed to fit in despite trying multiple times. Eventually, I used my music to express this frustration and made some of my best music from these experiences.
My mission as an artist is to promote being unapologetically yourself. I love representing this idea through music because it is the very thing that allowed me to find myself and express who I am with no limitations.
My Lebanese culture has been a huge part of my identity and although I have struggled with the traditional part of it, I enjoy many of my culture’s customs and Arabic music. I grew up listening to so much Arabic music that I took in some of the elements within it. That explains my unique sound today – Pop/R&B with Eastern undertones in both my voice and music. This, along with my vocal range and songwriting style is what sets me apart from other artists.
I failed many many many times, but I grew to be resilient. I knew that if I was consistent and genuine in my career, I would reach my goals. I took a chance on myself and moved to Los Angeles with only one month’s worth of rent. Today, I am a full-time artist and I am enjoying the ride on this wild journey.
I am so proud of the artist I am becoming and am excited for the opportunities that lie ahead. I’m also very proud of the skills I have acquired along the way. As an indie artist, I had to do everything a label would usually do to sustain my career. I learned audio engineering, graphic design, and the ins and outs of music business.
One lesson I’ve learned based off my experiences is that persistence is key. A dream is not impossible if you actively work towards it. Another important lesson I have learned is to be authentic. Authenticity breeds peace of mind and strong relationships. I try my best to live by these philosophies and have seen tremendous change in myself and my music since implementing them.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I’m the type of person that goes above and beyond for my friends. I decorate the house/guest room and make sure their experience is over-the-top, so you better believe I have an itinerary ready:
I’d make sure to visit Mama’s Shelter for pre-drinks and then head over to WeHo for a fun night of dancing. Then stop by Leo’s taco truck for a late-night snack.
A bike ride on the Santa Monica boardwalk is definitely top of the list followed by dinner at Carousel — one of my favorite Middle Eastern restaurants.
I would spend two days at the Sequoia National Park and stop to get birria tacos along the way.
One day would be dedicated to chilling at Ice Cream Studios in DTLA, where there is a penthouse view.
And the last day would be dedicated to chilling on the beach at Newport Beach or Malibu Creeks.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I love this question! I am big on teamwork and recognize that without my team/support group, I would not be where I am today. Growing up in a traditional Lebanese household made it hard for me to pursue music as a career, but thanks to my older brother, Walid Chaya, I was able to do so. Walid, who is now an actor/director/writer, always found a way to bring the arts to life in our house. He helped me practice vocal warm-ups and prepared/submitted me for music auditions. He showed my family that working in the arts is just as important as any other job.
Another individual I’d like to shout out is Jad Kassatly — owner of Boombox Studios in Beirut, Lebanon. Jad was one of the first people to believe in my craft to the point where he provided me with free studio services up until I was able to fund myself. When I was a part of a competition with Universal Music Group, he produced, recorded, and mixed an original song with me in one day. We made it as top 10 contenders and this experience helped propel me forward in my career.
Last but not least, I would like to give credit to Samir “ADHD” Akhter for mentoring me both musically and in business. Samir’s experience as a Billboard charting producer/engineer and studio owner has made him well knowledgeable in the music industry. His expert advice and musical background have enhanced my craft exponentially.
I’m so grateful for all these amazing people and others who have supported me and continue to do so.
I’ve also learned a lot from reading “The Artists Way” and “The Art of War”. These two books have enabled me to think differently when it comes to my artistry. In fact, I have implemented many philosophies from both books within my craft and instantly feel the change.
Other: Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/52R7wAhlGa9zcf9647ggsI?si=coUxMyQCSe627rEun6gIVg&nd=1 Apple Music: https://music.apple.com/us/artist/rawan-chaya/1443058549 Anghami: https://play.anghami.com/artist/2944988