2016: The Year in Charts

Greek DJ Xenia Ghali Tops Dance Club Songs Chart: 'It Feels Like I Am Dreaming'

Courtesy Photo
Cover art for "Under These Lights" by Xenia Ghali.

Xenia Ghali earns her first No. 1 on Billboard's Dance Club Songs chart (dated June 18), as "Under These Lights" lifts 2-1. The track, her debut chart entry, was boosted by remixes from DJLW, Knappy and House of Virus, among others.

The Greek female DJ/producer chatted with Billboard about the song's production, her label Funky Sheep and more.

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How does it feel to have your first Billboard No. 1?

Honestly, I can't believe it. It feels like I am dreaming. I'm just a girl who loves making, producing and playing music. It's the way I express myself and it's the love of my life. When I released "Under These Lights," I didn't even think about how far it could go or what could come of it. The fact that it is No. 1 is beyond anything I ever expected and a massive honor. A huge thank you goes out to everyone for their love and support and, of course, to my team for their endless belief and hard work. We did this together.

How did "Under These Lights" originate?

I worked on it when I was in New York and then finished it while in Greece for a few shows. I wanted to produce a track that was very musical, very melodic and passionate, but also very driving and energetic. When I produced the drop, I really wanted to have something that felt good and familiar, but not similar to anything that is out right now. Getting that lead sound and the melodic hook in the drop was really what was most challenging for me. The lead is actually a synth I built from my own voice.

What does the song mean to you?

The song is extremely important to me. With regards to the production, I really let go and just focused on what felt right to me. Sonically, I just wanted it to be something that depicted my emotions and passion. Lyrically, I am very proud of what the song stands for. The world is in a very negative place at the moment. There is a lot of hate, anger, racism, discrimination and aggression. "Under These Lights" speaks of the importance of unity and love amongst all of us. It depicts a very optimistic and euphoric message, one which I feel the world is missing right now. 

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What's your favorite remix of the song?

There have been a number of fantastic remixes. Each has its own magic and captures the essence of the original beautifully. It's very hard to pick one favorite.

Do you have further goals for the song?

I am actually in the process of shooting the official music video for it. I am shooting it in Greece and I'm really excited about it.

You released "Under These Lights" on your own independent label titled Funky Sheep. How'd you pick that name?

The reason why it's called Funky Sheep Records is because sheep are my favorite animal! As a child, I always thought they looked like little clouds!

How will you continue to increase your profile, now that you've achieved your first No. 1?

This summer, I will be on tour in Greece and in the studio working on future releases. After that, I'm back in the States. The rest of the year will hold a lot of shows, in Europe and the U.S., as well as new releases, collaborations and remixes.

Beyond your production on the song, who's the vocalist on "Under These Lights"?

The track sounds like it has two vocalists. However, it's actually just one. I processed the vocal in the hook to make it higher in pitch. That resulted in the vocal sounding ambiguous, so you can't tell if it's male or female. When I was producing it, I decided to manipulate the vocal during the hook by using various techniques, to make it sound unique. Initially I did this for fun, but I ended up loving the way it sounded, so I kept it!

The vocals were sung by Ethan Thompson [also one of the song's co-writers, along with Ghali]. However, we decided not to include his name in the [credits for] the single because his personal project, which he is very focused on, has a completely different musical vibe than "Under These Lights."

You're a Greek female DJ. Would you say that's a unique category?

It is unique only because there aren't that many! More women need to start breaking into the scene. There are a lot of really talented women producers and DJs and I hope to see more of them in the industry.