Illustration by Jazz Coker.

Dounia is the coolest. The singer-songwriter from Queens and Morocco is making pop music her own way with infectious beats and lyrics that exude confidence. Her debut EP, Intro To, is full of dreamy songs that don’t adhere to genre-based conventions, but rather feel uniquely Dounia. We also love her music videos, which visualize the self-awareness, style, and humor that makes her work feel so special. You can catch her in action on tour with Christine and the Queens. We are so excited Dounia took the time to make us a playlist of the songs that have soundtracked her life.

1. “Poppin’” by Rico Nasty
I was doing my own thing music wise during this era and partying/adventuring mode with my friends every night. This song was always the go-to. I’m pretty sure it was the summer, just moving into an apartment in Queens by my lonesome (with my cat of course). I just remember dancing in front of my TV reminding myself who I am when everything seemed to be testing my patience. I remember both this song and my song reached a million at the same time on Spotify. So I definitely felt poppin’ indeed.

2. “Let It Breathe” by Jaden Smith
This album really inspired me in general but this was when I started writing more hefty material. I realized I could really expand on my music and not feel limited because I’m a girl or whatever. It was so poetic and fit my energy at the time–melancholy and seemingly limitless. I grew into my musical confidence during this era. I definitely played this one a lot during my first ever tour and music industry ventures as well. It reminds me of immense and dreamy gratitude.

3. “High Like This” by Kevin George
This is just a vibe. I remember I got into this song around my birthday and recording my “Avant-Garde” video. It was a weird time for me but I was getting it together. This song represents how everything could seemingly be falling apart but you can always honestly just chill. I’m not sure if this period of my life was carefree or distracted. I threw an amazing party around this era to celebrate both events–we had an open mic; it was fire.

4. “The Morning” by The Weeknd
This song has been prevalent forever for me. It reminds me of beginning to not care for romantic love like that. I was becoming more romantically detached and was getting more into general self-fulfillment and what I like to call “ain’t shit” music–which is definitely a genre I currently participate in. I was 18, working at American Apparel, just dropped out of high school, and really was just moving based on what excited me. I feel like this song is a perfect soundtrack for that

5. “Save That Shit” by Lil Peep
A sad vibe but a vibe nonetheless. My Lil Peep exposure definitely represented a time in my life where I romanticized sadness and hurt and brokenness and it definitely translated in my art as well. I soon realized it was emotionally and generally unproductive to indulge in negative feelings that simply felt comfortable. I think it also taught me to judge people a little less because I used to think Lil Peep was just another Lil whatever but then his music really touched me. It had soul.

6. “Cleanin’ Out My Closet” by Eminem
Eminem is my earliest musical memory. I was really into books during my childhood and not really into music or TV. Eminem, however, really made me fall in love with him and his work. His wordplay, quirky concepts, stories, and multi-syllable rhymes paired with airy melodic hooks had me. He was so unafraid to truly document his headspace and that just inspired me on every level.

7. “Forever & Always” by Taylor Swift
Need some old Taylor Swift on here. She got me through all my dramatic moments in middle and high school. I was always in my feelings about some lame shit. She also inspired me to pick up a guitar in my youth and really start writing songs. I was really into musical theatre in my youth, and her live shows I feel supplied young me with that element. I admired how she wrote all her own material too. Even young me was keen on doing the same throughout my own musical journey. ♦