EXCLUSIVE: R&B artist Ali Gatie writes chart-toppers like people ride bikes

Totel V. De Jesus

Posted at Oct 24 2020 01:57 PM | Updated as of Oct 24 2020 04:07 PM


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MANILA -- The music videos of 23-year-old R&B artist Ali Gatie on You Tube have gathered millions of views. On Spotify, as of posting, his earlier hit single “It’s You,” has 553.6 million clicks. 

To think, Gatie is technically just two years in the business and since his first independent release in 2018, he has reached more than 3 billion streams. 

Ali Gatie is chill. He composes his own songs though he doesn’t know how to play any musical instrument. It’s all in his head. He starts with the melody, or gets inspired by something as catchy as an Instagram caption. 

“But almost always the music comes first. I write to the music. The music inspires me. Someone would send me like a guitar melody and I’d work on it,” Gatie tells ABS-CBN News in a recent exclusive interview. 

His most recent single, “Welcome Back,” is a collaboration with fellow Canadian singer-songwriter Alessia Cara and it has gathered millions of clicks in various streaming platforms. We were told “Welcome Back” is a prelude to the next album after his 2019’s best-selling “You.”

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Gatie is Canadian of Iraqi descent. He was born in Yemen but was raised in Mississauga, a suburb just a 30-minute drive away from Toronto. When ABS-CBN News got a hold of him through his label, Warner Music International, he was in Los Angeles. 

Through a local representative from Warner, we threw him questions he gamely answered. First, we asked him how he is spending his typical “pandemic-limited” day.

“Since I’m in L.A., it’s just me and my friend. After breakfast we hop on the (swimming) pool for our kind of workout. We go for a drive, a walk and spend the rest of the day at the studio… Just to keep sane and keep doing different things,” he said. 

He explained how he collaborates with other musicians in writing and recording songs. Among the fastest he finished composing was the earlier hit, “What If I Told You That I Love You,” which, as of posting has nearly 82 million views on You Tube. 

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“We finished it a couple of days. I wrote it one day. The technical side, like mixing, for another day,” he said. 

The longest he finished creating was “Moonlight,” now nearing 32 million views on You Tube. Curiously, it is about having doubts and regaining trusts in loving someone. 

“Am not the type who writes with different versions. [With ‘Moonlight’] it took a while because it has different versions, about three tracks. We added strings here and removed strings there. It took so much longer and I invested a lot of money,” he said. 

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But what’s wonderful about Gatie is he can write a song at a drop of a hat. When asked about playing a musical instrument, he said he was planning to learn the piano and the guitar but never got the time. 

“But I write songs like how people ride bikes. I get (ideas) from the little things I can find. A word in an Instragram caption. (Most of the times) I need the music first,” he said. 

This explains why he can’t keep track how many he’d written. His rough estimate is nearing a thousand. 

“No way I can keep track. I wouldn’t know because just an idea in my head is a song.”

He’s young but he has learned a lot about the business. His advice to younger boys and girls wanting to enter the music industry? 

“Number one is having an insane amount of self belief. No one can convince you that you’re not good enough. Believe in yourself. Be able to work with the failures. Sacrifice and work hard. And don’t compare,” Gatie said. 

“Spend much time on your craft. Some artists took 10 years to make it, some make it two years. So stick to your vision. Just don’t give up,” he added. 

If not for the pandemic, he said he was supposed to perform in the Philippines. He exclaimed he loves Southeast Asia. 

“That region gave me so much love. Can’t wait to come. Can’t wait to get another world tour in general . Give everyone a hug without getting sick. Am just praying for everyone to keep safe.”

The full video interview here: 

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