YOU definitely get a load of vibrancy, character and fun…
when you speak with ARI. The American songwriter talks with me about her debut single, Baptize, and its story. She tells me about her childhood home and which musicians inspired her at a young age – ARI reveals how salsa dancing and cooking helps her relieve tension!
I ask her whether there are tour dates coming up and the chances of some U.K. dates; which upcoming artists we need to keep an eye out for; how she spends time away from music – ARI ends the interview by selecting a rather tasty song!
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
Hi, I'm ARI. Music is my passion; passion is my music. My musical passion is my passionate music.
Baptize is your debut single. What is the story behind the song?
Baptize is the first song I had written for my solo project. It's a song of catharsis for me. I was in the midst of dealing with repressed waste and self-hatred and the way in which it's manifested into unhealthy and self-destructive behaviors. For me, it's about freedom from the chains of the mind we've shackled ourselves in.
Or something like that.
Is it exciting having the song out there and ready? Do you already have visions of more material?
It's exciting, it's nerve-racking. I'm no cucumber. I'm desperate for validation and I want to be liked, loved and respected. Love me.
Yes. I write most days so the visions are ever-present in my day-to-day; sometimes I've spent the entirety of a day writing and I wake up the next day and realize it's sh*t. Other times, I feel connected to the song and it feels like I've released the story haunting me through that song. That's my favorite part about songwriting. Free therapy.
It seems you have been raised on the arts and around music. What was your childhood home like?
My folks are good people, good parents. They haven't made careers of making art, but they are artists in many ways. My father loves music and spent the majority of our time together during my childhood educating me on some of my favorite artists and driving me to and from dance rehearsals. My mother encouraged me with her abundant love and occasional ass-whoopings (kidding, mom, I love you.).
My childhood home was peach-colored on the outside, and inside, unfortunately. Our living room hosted reclining green-leathered La-Z-Boy sofas that my older brother used to hide things he broke around the house underneath. The kitchen had a white-tiled island and there was a guest bathroom with a warm toilet seat. Not a heated toilet seat, but warm still. Mostly from the excessive use. Busy house, busy toilet.
Childhood was tough. No one knows what they're doing and then, when you're an adult and wreaking havoc on your own life, you're like: "Well, sh*t. That was a screwed up thing that happened in my childhood and I'm damaged and should probably work on that". We all have stuff. We're products of joyous moments and traumas and we fumble around on this planet until we die. I say that with a smile. I'm not a black hole. Usually.
Tell me about the musicians that inspired you at a young age. Who are your heroes?
Leonard Cohen, Nina Simone and Sam Cooke are some of my heroes. The way in which they turn darkness into light is truly holy.
Is it true you cook and go salsa dancing to release tension and express yourself?!
TRUTH! I do love to cook. My grandmother and mother expressed so much love through preparing food during my youth. I hope I'm not perpetuating misogynistic stigmas of women in kitchens here, but the kitchen was where we shared stories, laughed; gossiped, yelled; cried and created dishes to share with people we loved. I love to cook. I love creating something from start to finish and consuming it with such quick turnover.
Making music takes a little longer. Yes, I do salsa dance; not just salsa, though. I used to be a ballroom dancer. Dancing is a delicious way to release. It's primal, it's liberating…
Are there going to be any tour dates coming up? Where can we see you play?
Right now, I'm doing shows around my hometown of Los Angeles, where I currently live. More to come soon….
Might you come to the U.K. and play here? What is the live music scene like where you are?
I do plan to come to the U.K. In fact, I'll be there next month for writing and recording sessions. I may even do a show whilst over there. I love it there. Looking forward to spending time in your neck of the woods.
Do you have any ambitions to fulfil before the end of the year?
Lord, if I did not, why even wake up every morning? Hamster-wheel life is depressive. I'll be releasing new songs all year and doing shows. I'll have a full-length album done and released by the end of the year.
Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music – the one that sticks in the mind?
I love how you spell ‘favourite’. Much sexier than my American version. My favorite memory from my time in music is happening now. I'm writing less how I think people want me to write and more from a place of how I actually think and speak. It feels good being honest. Is that a memory? Not really. I don't answer questions properly. Sorry.
Which three albums mean the most to you, would you say?
Nina Simone's Pastel Blues; Leonard Cohen's Songs of Love and Hate and the Bee Gees' Main Course.
IN THIS PHOTO: Moses Sumney
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
I do. I spend a significant chunk of time with my not-so-baby brother. We live together and he's my best friend. He's brilliant and very much an active part of my life. We explore art, music and the inner-workings of our brains together. He's a cool cat and an artist as well. I hate him a lot…can you tell?
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
Moses Sumney's Worth It