photography by Sofi Hellberg Olsson
Danish/Kosovo-Albanian songwriter and producer GIMI makes retro-inspired pop music with tongue-in-cheek lyrics and catchy melodies. And his latest single “Habibi” is again a potpourri of this quirky mix telling about a random anecdote from life. He explains: “A couple of summers ago I was lying on a beach north of Copenhagen, enjoying the weather and a cold beer. At one point I had to get up to use the public restroom located on the beach. While I was washing my hands I could hear someone entering. Suddenly I could hear kissing sounds behind me and someone whispering “habibi”. As I turned around, an older man was standing there with his pants down. I politely rejected his offer and went back to my spot on the beach and enjoyed the rest of my day. In the bridge after the second chorus I’m singing in Albanian, which is my native language. I’m so excited about showing this part of myself in the music. Even though I’ve been speaking Albanian since I was a kid, I had to call my mom when I wrote the lyrics – so shout out to my mom for helping out!!”
We had a quick conversation with GIMI about Albanian food, when he laughed the last time and what listeners can expect about his upcoming debut EP Polari.
You have Kosovo-Albanian parents, grew up in Padborg, and you are now living in Copenhagen. How much do the different influences shape you as a person, also in your music?
All the different influences and contrasts I’ve had in my life, definitely come across in my music. I love combining different worlds and I love playing with contrast both in my music and in my visual aesthetic.
In your new single Habibi you also sing in Albanian for the first time. What connection do you have to the country of your roots?
I have a love connection with Albanian food. Especially ‘Pitë’ which is my favorite thing. Nothing compares to my mom’s one with feta cheese. Omg – it’s so good.
For which things do you appreciate Kosovo?
There’s so many cool artists, writers, designers, performers and filmmakers coming out of Kosovo right now. It’s incredible!
“My debut EP Polari is playful, experimental, sexy and fun.”
Your lyrics are always filled with irony and humor. I think these are two beautiful ways to face the everyday difficulties and misfortunes. So, when and why did you laugh the last time?
I was at a pub quiz yesterday with my friends, it’s a Tuesday tradition – and every Tuesday for the last 2 months we have suggested that there’s a category based on RuPauls Drag Race. And finally it happened! We got our category. We were so confident and thought we had the win in the bag. We sat there waiting to be crowned the winners of the quiz – turns out we came 11th place.
A few words about your debut EP Polari – which will be released in autumn; what can listeners expect?
Polari is playful, experimental, sexy and fun. But at it’s core it’s pop songs that you can sing along to, dance to and maybe even cry to. Oh yeah, and expect loads of auto tune as well. I had the best time singing/screaming ad-libs in the studio feeling my Mariah Carey fantasy. It’s also the first time I’ll be releasing songs that I have produced myself – which I’m also so excited about!