Photograph courtesy of Warner Music Group

Ahead of the release of her debut album “Citizens,” the Juno-nominated artist explains how fashion plays into her artistic narrative.

Faouzia thinks about the future. After spending years refining his debut album, Citizens, she is finally ready to release him into the world. But the mononymous Moroccan-Canadian singer is not one to rest on her laurels. In fact, Faouzia is already planning her next record, a kind of sister album with the same futuristic fantasies.

“They’re both playing against each other in my head, but Citizens is like the most discreet brother, ”she says FASHION. Even still, the album packs a punch.

With every song on Citizens (released May 19), Faouzia tells a story. “Minefields” (featuring John Legend) is a heartfelt ballad, while “RIP, Love” is a trill-filled Arabic track about a partner’s letting go. But it’s “Puppet,” a bop about releasing expectation, that really shows what the artist has up his stylistic sleeve. The music video for the song is a peek into her mind through chaotic, colorful, and even goofy fashion.

It’s no wonder the 21-year-old singer (a friend of Chanel) is up for Breakthrough Artist of the Year at this year’s Junos, which take place on May 15.

Below, Faouzia recounts FASHION why she’s inspired by the future, what it means to break the mold of “risky” clothing, and how her current style lays the groundwork for her future self.

The cover of Citizens is very futuristic. What is the inspiration behind this aesthetic?

Every time I imagined my album, I saw something very big and dramatic, and I always saw it based in this futuristic world that lives on its own. There is a big glass city and it is very tangy, fresh and a bit cold. It was the vibe I was looking for with fashion in this album and the next.

What attracts you to futuristic fashion?

The cool thing about futuristic fashion is that it hasn’t happened yet. Everyone has this vision of what the future looks like. Some people think it’s very extravagant. Some people think it’s very old fashioned… It’s really special because you can take it in so many different directions. Everything is very imaginative and creative.

How do you approach taking style risks?

I like to do things that are out of my comfort zone. It’s really fun to achieve something you’ve never done before. I cover myself when I dress, it’s religious, but it’s also something that means a lot to me. So sometimes I have to think outside the box. I have to ask myself: “How can I stand out in a different way, in a way that suits me with my body?

Is it difficult to take risks with fashion while respecting your limits?

It was really difficult at first, because there were [weren’t a lot of options that were] cutting edge that I could see that still matched my comfort level. So it was hard trying to figure out what I could wear that looked cool, young and fresh. It was definitely a process to be able to find that. But now I feel like that’s just the beginning and we’re starting to see a lot more of it.

What role does fashion play in your art?

It has almost as important – if not as important – a role in my art as my music. Every time I write a song, I’m already thinking about what I’m going to wear and what I’m seeing for hair and makeup. It plays a big role in my writing process.

How would you describe the world you created in the “Puppet” music video?

This world is very colorful and sporadic. The fashion was meant to represent different emotions, and the whole video was about not being a puppet. In each scene, the outfits present a different sense of oppression. The one that was an optical illusion was supposed to mean brainwashing. The oversized hand represented being treated like a child. And then the origami dress meant restriction. All of them had a special meaning, and it was really cool to see how we could visually display those emotions in the video.

How would you describe this era of your style?

I want something that’s cutting edge, but also easy to digest. I can already imagine all the craziest looks to come, so this is a taste of what’s to come. I want people to visually understand who I am as an artist and keep pushing the narrative forward with looks that are outside of my comfort zone. But I definitely plan to push this even further in the future. This is just the beginning.

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