Canadian icon Karl Wolf is sitting down to chat with HOLR about how he got his start, new music, and more.

karl wolf

Karl Wolf is a Lebanese-Canadian musician who helped pave the way when it came to fusing culture with music as a result of his unique sound, combining notes of R&B, pop, and hip-hop. Making his debut in the early 2000s, Wolf is now considered a Canadian icon in the industry following his music reaching international status. In fact, Wolf’s chart-topping single “Africa” is one of his most successful songs to date, in which it reportedly sold over 1 million units worldwide and garnered quadruple-platinum status across Canada.

Today, HOLR is chatting with Karl to learn all about how he got started in the music industry, his latest song- “My Heart Beats in Arabic”- and what’s next for the talented artist.

Talk to us about how you got your start in the music industry.

I left Lebanon when I was 3 years old because of the civil war. So, I grew up in Dubai, where my parents got a job, until I was about 17 years old. My mom was a piano teacher so I learned some piano and instruments. From there, I became a DJ for private parties. When I came to Canada, there was one group in Montreal called “Dubmatique”- a hip-hop, rap group. They were huge and I was their backup singer. From that point on, I was asked to perform at different shows, and record labels came to me and sought me. That’s kinda how it started.

karl wolf

How do you bring your culture into your music?

When I was first starting off as a producer and songwriter, I was just going with the style of what we were hearing on the radio at the time. When it was time to start working on my own career, I wanted to stand out and figure out, “Who am I?” As a result, I thought about going back to my cultural roots. I wanted to differentiate myself from the likes of Usher, Justin Timberlake, etc. at the time. It was an interesting point in time to reflect on myself. I got inspiration from my parents and started listening to some Arabic songs. You can call me the “East Meets West” guy! I was born in the Middle East but half of my life is here. It was interesting to mix R&B, hip-hop, pop, and a little bit of my own touch, which was the Middle Eastern flair. The first single was called Butterflies” and it blew up over the pond. Africa was the second single after that. It really took off! Africa went mainstream. I always kept my Middle Eastern heritage in my songs. I wanted to change hearts and minds with my music.

You recently released “My Heart Beats in Arabic.” Walk us through the song’s creative and what it’s about.

Ever since the pandemic, I got into TikTok, really heavy! The cool thing about TikTok is that you can get millions of eyeballs on your songs and music without having a label. If any artists are listening to this, sign up on TikTok and get your music out there- you never know who is listening! I think artists today have such an advantage to use TikTok to showcase their sound. For “My Heart Beats in Arabic” I was just fiddling around with the Darbuka which is a traditional Middle Eastern drum. I created a song out of it and I thought to myself, “What sums up my career?” My heart does beat in Arabic- my parents are both Lebanese and they are Middle Eastern so they speak Arabic. I thought to myself, wouldn’t it be cool and fun for the song to be called “My Heart Beats in Arabic” while I created an actual beat that’s Arabic?

karl wolf

As a Canadian icon, what are some of your favorite past projects you’ve worked on to date and why?

There have been so many good milestones. My first big milestone was the Sky project which catapulted me from songwriter-producer to artist and performing. Making music amazing- there’s something so special about representing your own sound and performing them to an audience that appreciates you being the messenger and vessel. There’s nothing like it in this whole world.

What’s next for you?

There’s a lot going on in my world these days! Akon has asked me to help him produce some songs on his new album so that’s really cool. He’s become a good friend of mine. The single I helped him produce is called “Slow Motion” and it’s coming out soon! I’m also working on some other stuff with him. Another single dropping is called “Oxygen.” I love music but I also love acting- I might get into that someday. Some people call me the younger brother of Jason Statham. I’ll one day get into some action movies or something!

karl wolf

Published by HOLR Magazine.