After his incredible performances got him to the semi-finals of “The Voice France,” Anthony Touma had us all rooting for him on “Dancing with the Stars Middle East.” And while dancing his way to the winner’s podium, the 25-year-old Lebanese-French singer, songwriter, and musician managed to win our hearts too. Touma, who is influenced by Michael Jackson, Justin Timberlake and Bruno Mars to name a few, is once again impelling us to get out our dancing shoes with his new single “Walk Away.”
The worldly-wise Touma has already had success with two other singles in Lebanon, allowing him to take part in the NRJ Music Tour 2012. However “Walk Away” is his international debut after signing up with Universal Music MENA. We chat to the performer who is known for his soulful voice and touching lyrics about the new single, which features an African beat, and what inspired it. We also talk about his memorable experiences and how he’s spreading his music across all continents to connect with more audiences and music lovers.
Can you describe your international debut “Walk Away” and how you want listeners to feel when they hear it?
“Walk Away” is a song that genuinely makes me happy when I listen to it; it’s fun, summery and full of life. I’m very proud of it. I hope listeners will relate to the topic on “Walk Away,” which is staying positive and pushing negative people and things away in their own ways. But most importantly, I would like listeners to feel happy and maybe even get them to get up and dance a little!
You said people who showed you “fake love,” suddenly displaying a reignited interest in you after your success, inspired you to write the song. Which other hard lessons did you have to learn to deal with?
I think a lot of people underestimate what it takes to be an artist. The hard work behind it, and the mental toughness that is required. One of the hardest lessons life taught me is that people will judge you, be jealous and not show support in times you need it most, and you have to fight through it and not let it affect you. Your happiness should depend solely on yourself instead of on other people’s opinions and negativity. It’s in these times that you realise who your true friends are, who loves you for the person that you are, and not for the image they’ve built of you.
You sang all the African choir parts yourself. How fun was that?
I can try to describe how fun it was, but it won’t actually portray how fun it actually was! I was in my home studio, alone, with my laptop and my microphone, dancing and singing my lungs out, till 4 a.m. while picturing myself in Disney’s “Lion King.” Maybe one day I’ll release all the tracks I recorded but didn’t use on the song.
Can you give us a heads up on some other songs you’re working on?
I’ve already recorded four songs that will be released as singles from my next album. I can’t wait to share them with you. Even if I can’t reveal the titles yet, I can at least tell you that this is the best work I’ve done so far! And heads up… They’ll be stuck in your head for a while!
You collaborated with Enrique Iglesias on “Let Me Be Your Lover.” Do you have any other alliances in the works or you would love to make happen?
We have a couple of ideas we are working on. I’d love to make a remix of “Walk Away” with an African artist. I’d also like to collaborate with a rapper on one particular song from the new singles that will be coming out.
As you began performing at a young age, you’ve obviously always had a connection with music. Are you still in touch with people from back then, like your high school Homemade band mates?
Of course! I’m still close to my high school band mates even though some of them are living abroad. I always send them my music for honest feedback, and I’m planning a band reunion, but they don’t know it yet. It’s not going to be easy since they all became either doctors or big shots in big multi-national companies.
You’ve also dabbled in the world of acting with the Lebanese film “And Action.” Is that something you’ve always been interested in?
It’s not uncommon for singers to become involved in the acting world. Justin Timberlake is one of my favourite artists, and in my opinion he’s done an amazing job at acting, I’ve always thought I’d like to give it a try and I’m glad I did, I learned a lot from the experience. However it is not my main focus at the moment.
Tell us about your first appearance on screen when you were participating on “The Voice France.”
Wow, that’s one day I will never forget. I actually applied to “The Voice” online from my living room in Beirut. I told my mother I didn’t believe they would even take a look at my video. One month and three pre-auditions later, I was facing four turned around chairs, sitting on the piano, about to sing my heart out. I didn’t know what to expect, but I knew this was my chance to prove myself, so I got in my ‘this is my moment’ zone and gave it everything I had. The outcome was unexpected. Seeing the four judges on their feet at the end of the performance is a mental picture that will always be one of my favourite memories. My family and I still watch the audition from time to time, and it always feels amazing remembering that day.
What’s the best thing about growing up in diverse places like Dubai and Paris?
I’ve lived in Lebanon, Jordan, Dubai, Paris and London and it really taught me more than I can say. Living in diverse places makes you realise how different and yet similar cultures are. The best thing about it is that I have friends and memories all around the world, and I have chosen the things I like from each place. I’ve lived in and incorporated them in my own life. I encourage anyone that is able, to travel as much as possible.