Press Play: GIMI – ‘Habibi’

Danish/Kosovo-Albanian artist, songwriter and producer GIMI releases the scintillating experimental-pop jam ‘HABIBI’, the first single taken from his upcoming debut EP Polari. Heavily inspired by MTV/pop culture of the early 00s and Albanian traditional music, GIMI has created a special lyrical world filled with irony, humour – and sometimes political messages. With the courage to stand out, he makes music in his own quirky pop universe both catchy and experimental at once. He has Kosovo-Albanian parents, grew up in Padborg (southern Jutland) and now lives in Copenhagen. Many different places feel like home to him, and the journeys he has been on both personally and musically has led him to Polari – which will be released later this Fall.

The word ‘polari’ comes from the Italian word ‘parlare’ which means ‘to talk’. It is an old, secret code language that can be traced back to the beginning of the 20th century, and queer people in England used it to communicate in secret: “The language had words and common expressions that you could use to communicate and to get a sense of whether the other person was queer. Sentences that would make no sense to other people. It was a really special phenomenon, Polari”, GIMI says.

The language came from a time when being queer was illegal and you needed a way of communicating without people becoming suspicious. As a counter-narrative to this part of queer history, GIMI sings openly about his own experience and at the same time, the EP defies the secrecy that has been surrounding queer communities throughout history.

Speaking about the story behind it, GIMI 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”.

He adds: “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!!”


‘HABIBI’ is out now via W.A.S Entertainment: