Photographed by Marta McAdams
ABIR is shaking the New York City music scene, and she only just properly arrived. Her latest single, “Girls,” is rich with nightlife gossip and bona fide self-empowerment. You’ll be proud to say you knew ABIR early on.
How did you get into music?
When I moved to the States, I was around five, and my dad started to make some money as a limousine driver. He started his own company and would pick me up every day from school in a limo. He had to play jazz and classical music for his clients, so every time I got in the car, that’s all that was playing. I started mimicking Etta James and Ella Fitzgerald, and all these people that I look up to now. After I found out that I could hold a note, I started doing talent shows and performing at basketball games—wherever there was a stage. Once I got old enough, my parents loosened up, and that’s when I started coming to New York and doing music more seriously.
How has performing helped you discover more of your identity?
When I was performing in grade school, I was always performing someone else’s song because I never really wrote that much. I would dabble in all sorts of genres. Now I feel like singing your own music, that you wrote, immediately gives you your identity because you’re sharing your story with the audience and not someone else’s.
Is there a stage persona and an off-stage persona for you or do you mix the two?
A little! I feel like I’m goofy in person, and I haven’t necessarily found a way to show that on the stage, but I am still myself.
ABIR wears a mix of: Clinique, Clinique Pop™ Lip Colour + Primer in ‘Love Pop,’ $18.50, available at Clinique; Clinique Pop™ Lip Colour + Primer in ‘Fab Pop,’ $18.50, available at Clinique.