Iraqi–Canadian rapper, singer and songwriter Ali Gatie first rose to fame in 2018 through sheer determination, all on his own. He’d been consistently releasing his music on streaming platforms between 2016 and 2018 but wasn’t seeing results. He says, “I knew I had to change something, so I started taking time to build rollout plans for each of my songs. I came up with this concept of singing my own songs in my car and releasing them as Twitter and Instagram videos and then putting marketing money behind them hoping they would go viral because of relatable lyrics.”
Lucky for him, they did.
His track “Moonlight” has now racked up over 95 million streams on Spotify. The music video has had over 23 million views with the lyric video raking in over 77 million. Similarly, two other singles from that same year have been streamed by millions as well. In 2019 he released his first album, You, which included one of his most popular tracks, ‘It’s You’, which has been streamed over 400 million times.
So how did a young guy from a suburban town in Toronto manage to do that all on his own without any professional support or industry connections? While a bulk of it was his honest and soulful songwriting and vocals that are both rich and smooth, a lot of it was his social media efforts.
“I still remember the days I had no fans and I was the one constantly messaging people begging them to give my music a chance. So now that I have thousands of people messaging me every day I make sure to take the time to show them the love back,” he says.
There was even a time when he spent a whole day responding to over 2,000 Snapchat messages. “I think it’s a great way to connect with my fans and learn what they want,” he adds. “It’s also a great way to keep myself humble and grounded. I don’t think I will ever stop doing that.”
Most recently, the 22-year-old released his single ‘Running On My Mind’. It was a song he wrote right after he finished ‘It’s You’. “It’s about the same girl,” he admits. “I actually recorded it and wrote it at my home studio where I’m at right now. I’m really proud of this song because I also produced it with the help of my co-producers.”
Additionally, Don Diablo has remixed Gatie’s recent single, ‘What If I Told You That I Love You’. Gatie is ecstatic about it, saying; “Don brought a whole new energy and feeling to the song. He’s also just a really great guy and a really great producer and DJ.”
Gatie finds himself churning out song after song, mostly because he is inspired by everything in his life and his brain automatically turns experiences and feelings into songs. He touches on topics of love and devotion, incorporating his lyrics into his specific genre of R&B and contemporary pop. But what really draws listeners in is his ability to make himself relatable. Through songs like ‘Moonlight’ and ‘Can’t Lie’, he’s proved himself as a songwriter who isn’t afraid to be vulnerable.
“I think I was born to write music. I actually think I was just born to write in general,” he says. “Most of the time it’s things that I’ve been through and the things that weigh heaviest on my heart, but it could also be the things my friends and family have been through or things I’ve seen in movies. I just need a spark and then I let my heart do the rest. Because I write from my heart and my experiences, everything that I’ve been through is subconsciously reflected in my music. However, for me, it’s always been about the people I’ve met, not the places I’ve been to. Human connection has always been my favourite part of life so that’s what I write about.”
So far, Ali Gatie’s life experience has been a unique one. He was born in Yemen before his family moved to Dubai where he spent a good chunk of his childhood. After that, they packed up and headed to Mississauga in Toronto, Canada, a culturally and economically diverse city. Growing up in an Iraqi household with an immigrant family, Gatie wants to provide for his parents who have given him everything they could so he could have the best life filled with opportunities. He credits them as a big motivator for his dreams and career.
Gatie had kicked off his 2020 One Lisn World Tour in Dubai back in February. “That was a full-circle moment for me,” he says proudly. “That’s the country I grew up in and I remember visiting Dubai all the time as a little kid. To start my sold-out world tour in the country I used to live in, which was now thousands of kilometres away, showed me how far I really came but it also reminded me where it all started.”
Due to COVID-19, Gatie has had to pause his tour until further notice. He plans to head back on the road as soon as it’s allowed again as he hasn’t done a full tour yet. He’s eager to get out there and meet his fans from around the world. He also plans to release his debut album. “I can’t wait to sing the new songs for all my lovely fans,” he says.
As a rising star, Ali Gatie has proven his passion and ability to not only the industry but also the millions of fans that are pouring in. It will be exciting to see what he has up his sleeve while we’re in quarantine and the future because we have a good feeling that he’s only just getting started.
To close off, Gatie says, “Before I found my passion in music I used to dream about finding something I would love to do every day. I spent days at school miserable, days at work miserable and so now that I’ve finally found my dream, nothing can stop me from having the life that I want.”
Photographer: Luis Mora
Production: GLDN Productions
Creative Director: Mayillah
Styling: Toreno Winn/Ali El Zeir/Osama Hassan