Following the release of her tantric-pop single “Break The Spell,” we caught up with multi-disciplinary San Francisco artist Arula about her creative passions and the message behind her music.
Hi Arula, thanks for taking the time to connect with us. What’s something you wish more people knew about your work as an artist?
I have been on a journey of learning music production, and currently, I produce some of my own music and the music of others. For many years I was mostly a singer/songwriter, but after learning Ableton Live I really enjoy getting into the more detail-oriented work it takes to produce a track. I also love teaching the basics of music production to women and I offer courses and retreats that create safe spaces for others to learn and create.
You had an exciting 2021, with the release of two singles and music videos. What was the process of developing the singles and their corresponding visuals like?
I began working on “Too Much” mid 2021. It was a song that I started working on in Ableton with just a kick and bass line, I also tinkered with it a bit on guitar. As the song progressed I realized that it wanted to be something bigger, i.e. I didn’t feel confident enough in my production skills to take it where it wanted to go. Once I realized that I began seeking out a co-producer who would understand my sound, I feel super grateful to have met Alone Architect who helped immensely with taking the production to the next level. He also worked with me on “Alive Now” and once the songs were finished I began conceptualizing the music videos but I didn’t have a clear visual and that’s when I reached out to Alea Rain.
I’ve been following Alea Rain’s work for years and asked if she would be open to listening to the songs. She’s such a visionary, and of course she had ideas coming through right away. Soon after that I drove down to LA to work on the video for “Too Much.” We had a small team of women work on this production which just made it feel extra juicy and I love the way it turned out.
One of the major themes in your work is a connection to nature. When did you first feel this connection, and how does it impact your creative process?
I’ve felt this connection to nature since I was a child. I remember the intense serene silence of walking through knee-deep snow where I grew up in Wisconsin. I remember feeling so enriched by the wild spaces there. Like many, I feel as though I’ve strayed a bit from this connection for periods of my life, and the past few years I’ve found myself returning and immersing myself more in nature. It feels really necessary for me to take time to just sit and receive the codes of the trees, the messages of the bird, and the wind. My creative process has more flow and depth when I take time to affirm this connection.
What mediums do you like to create with most?
I love creating with Ableton Live, but I also really enjoy singing and playing my acoustic guitar, frame drum, and other instruments. It’s really important for me to explore both organic and electronic sounds in my process, as well as play music with other people.
How did you discover that you enjoyed making music? When did you start, and what has your journey been like as a musician? Walk us through your story up to now.
I started when I was pretty young, probably about age 12. I was recording my voice and keyboard parts onto cassette tapes. I took up guitar when I was 16, I coerced my sister into helping me make music videos even. I’ve been part of multiple bands and projects over the years. Eventually, I began studying electronic music production and ventured out on my own. When I was little I always said “I want to be a rock star when I grow up.” I honestly had no idea the work that goes into living a musical life let alone a music career but I’ve been figuring it out and I feel like lately I’m making some really good progress.
Are there any goals you’d like to accomplish in 2022?
Yes, I’m excited to be working on my live set in preparation for some festivals and touring. I’m launching a new series of my course Empowering Expression which is an introduction to music production course for women & non-binary folx.
Do you have any advice for aspiring artists out there? What’s something you wish you knew when you started your creative career?
Create from a place of truth. Know that your unique art is unparalleled, and while it may not be for everyone, it will have an impact. Play with scrapping the labels or the idea of “genre” when you begin creating, and drop your expectations so that you can be surprised by what comes through.
Tell us more about your newest single, “Break The Spell.” What is the message behind the song?
This song is really about humankind coming together to collectively “break the spell” of division and move towards more unity. It is an invitation to question everything and to be especially critical of the systems that have been in place. Many people are waking up to how these systems are often only beneficial for a small elite minority. We live in an age where the undeniable ills of consumerism, authoritarianism, censorship, and capitalism are surfacing amidst a backdrop of media and political perspectives that encourage us to see our differences rather than our similarities. This song asks us to question everything before fortifying it into a belief that can potentially close us off to the opinions of others, to break free of our conditioning is to break the spell that we’ve been under for generations.
How does “Break The Spell” help you tell your story as an artist?
This song really highlights some of the themes that inspire me to write. The story may not necessarily be “my story,” because what interests me more is the stories of the collective, the marginalized, and the minority. At times I write from my own vantage point, sometimes from a perceived point of another, and many times I feel as though I’m simply a channel for stories or themes that want to come through me. Regardless, I often feel as though my songs can be categorized as anthems that bring us back to our true nature and primal power.
Follow Arula on Spotify for more new music.