Music Monday : Aruna

Los Angeles born, Aruna has been serenading the ears of listeners all across international dance music charts. This singer and songwriter has had success in the electronic dance music world with songs such as Ashley, (Safe) Wherever You Are, and her latest single, “Let Go”. Angela of HAUTE NYC chats with Aruna in the latest Music Monday feature to discuss her latest endeavors.

HAUTE NYC: What is your musical background? Was there a defining moment that made you want to pursue a career in music? Why?

Aruna: My journey started in pop music. Growing up I listened to a lot of 70s and 80s: Fleetwood Mac, Journey, Heart, Foreigner, Stevie Nicks, Tom Petty, Duran Duran. But once I got older my tastes started diversifying. I got into hair metal in my pre-teens, and then thrash and death metal as a teen…yes I guess I had some anger issues back then, haha! In college I went through the requisite Lilith phase, listening to lots of Tori, Paula Cole, Shawn Colvin, Sarah McLaughlin, which is where the more recent influences on my writing came from, as it was around that time that I really began consciously honing my craft. On top of all that I was studying classical piano from the time I was 10 and then jazz piano for 10 years after that. So you could say its quite a hodgepodge up there in my head.

Pursuing a career in music was never a conscious choice for me. I feel like it chose me more than me choosing it. I honestly can’t even remember a time where I DIDN”T feel like music was my future. Ok, for a few seconds I toyed with the idea of becoming a marine biologist because of my early obsession with sharks, but I was always scared of the ocean ever since seeing Jaws, so that kind of ruled that out.

HAUTE NYC: Your newest single, “Let Go” has taken over dance floors world wide and is currently #4 on Beatport charts. What were your influences behind this song?

Aruna: Lyrically the song was inspired by the recent demise of a two and a half year relationship, which unfortunately ended pretty badly. On a musical level, I knew that this would be my first artist single, and so I wanted something that would mark a return to my pop roots, keeping the dance elements as well, of course. I had been writing a ton of trance singles the past few years, which are great and I love them, but at the same time I was starting to feel very limited by their structure, and also the imagery that they impose from a lyrical perspective. Since the tracks and the sounds in trance are so big and lush and epic, the lyrics kinda have to follow suit, so they end up being somewhat abstract. I was missing the intimacy of pop lyric writing and arrangements, which allow the melody and the story of the song to be the main focus, not the kick drum and the lead lines.

HAUTE NYC: The remix pack of Let Go was just released and is available for download. What artists have been your favorite to work with at this point in your career? What DJs do you hope to collaborate with in the future?

Aruna: Working with The Thrillseekers was a great first step into the EDM world. Steve is so talented, and he really pushed me to my limits with that song, both in terms of the writing and the performance. So it set my bar very high very early on, and I’ve continued to work at maintaining that standard of excellence ever since. More recently though, I’ve really enjoyed working with Myon & Shane 54. The three of us felt an instant chemistry from day one, on all levels, which of course was why we ended up forming Velvetine together. The thing I love most about working with them is how consistently good everything coming out of their studio sounds, especially the vocals. I also get the sense that they really respect me, not just as a singer and writer, but as a composer and arranger too. They’re the first producers I’ve worked with that actually ‘let’ me contribute ideas regarding the track itself: chord changes, piano parts etc. And lastly they’re just so much damn fun, sometimes I forget were actually working!

I would love to continue working with them in the future, in fact I’ll be leaving for Hungary in 10 days to do exactly that!  But additionally I would really love to work with Kaskade, BT and Morgan Page…and possibly Gabriel & Dresden too (if they end up reuniting as it seems they may). All of them have a great instinct for pop arrangements and song structure, and have managed to find a really beautiful balance between those elements and the more traditional electronic aspects of EDM. Plus they’re musicians, in the truest sense of the word…so it would be great to be able to speak the same language.

HAUTE NYC: Many of your fans commend you on your beautiful choice of lyrics. Do you write your own music? Do you contribute to the creative process behind your songs?

Aruna: Yes and yes. Writing my own lyrics and melodies is and has always been a non-negotiable for any collaboration I consider doing. I just can’t sell a song I didn’t write in the quite same way.

HAUTE NYC: My two personal favorite songs of yours are Under Your Spell and Everywhere You Are. Which of your songs would you consider to hold closest to your heart and why?

Aruna: Wow, thats a tough one. All of Mommy’s babies are precious! If I had to answer that question honestly though, it would be a track I just finished, which is a potential follow-up single to “Let Go”.  It sort of picks up where “Let Go” left off, talking about releasing yourself from old energy and the freedom and space that that creates for something new and beautiful to emerge. In addition there’s a forthcoming Velvetine track inspired by my new relationship with Myon that’s particularly close to my heart for obvious reasons. Lastly the forthcoming track I did with Boom Jinx called “LIght As A Feather” seems to never get old for me. Can’t wait until that’s released!

HAUTE NYC: What was your most memorable experience in your career? Why?

Aruna: Well the most memorable experience in my career overall was landing a song on the Hannah Montana Season 1 Soundtrack, and specifically the first time I ever heard her sing it, which was on YouTube at the Radio Disney 10th Anniversary Concert to a crowd of 15,000 screaming fans. I was in such shock that I almost fell off my chair. I was in tears. In that moment I knew my life would never be the same. It was the first real success I experienced, as that album went on to sell 2,000,000 copies in its first two months, and as such I’ll never forget it.

Specific to my career as a dance artist however, I would say one of the most memorable moments was the first time I ever did a live PA. It was in Da Nang, Vietnam in 2008. The club was so packed you could barely walk. I had four security escorts around me at all times, even just to go to the restroom. Coming from playing little LA coffeehouses and clubs to 35-75 people, this was quite a shock, in the best possible way. Since then I’ve had a handful of amazing and unforgettable live experiences: Pacha Buenos Aires, Cairo last New Years Eve and the 2 recent shows I did in Canada at the top of the list. The love from the fans was so palpable, it blows me away every time.

HAUTE NYC: Looking into 2011, what can listeners expect from Aruna in the new year?

Aruna: It seems 2011 could be a pretty significant year for me, a year of a lot of changes, ideas that I began sowing the past several months that could begin to fully blossom. I can’t yet reveal a lot of what that entails but I will say this: expect new singles from both Aruna and Velvetine, expect the first original releases from my new house project with Myon called Starfarmers, expect to see me working a lot more behind the scenes as writer on tracks you might not even know I had a hand in, and of course, expect lots more live shows!

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Article by: Angela Samartano