Toronto based Indie artist ARI recently released singles off her EP debut, Tunnel Vision. Tunnel Vision tackles emotional and social issues with thundering force. From “Teachers,” an anthem against double standards, to “Time Machine,” a beautiful melody written as a plea for more time with a cancer-stricken friend. ARI does not hold back on subject matters that have affected her due to a tumultuous upbringing – she uses Tunnel Vision to rid herself of the anxiety caused by the pain and dark matter.
When describing your music – what five words that come to mind?
I would say candid, empowering, dichotomous, emotion, and viscera. There’s a light and dark element.
Many of the songs on Tunnel Vision deal with social issues. “Pretty Little Villains” is inspired by a human trafficking story you were exposed to – can you describe the songwriting process for such a powerful, heavy song?
I was reading an article in the news in Toronto and it was about a fourteen-year-old girl – not that far from where I live – that was held against her will in a hotel room for a week. So, writing this [“Pretty Little Villains”] – felt like fighting against all those who suffered from abuse.
Your single “Teachers” tackles the double standard women are exposed to when it comes to sex. Is this something you’ve faced in your adulthood?
Not a lot – but it bothered me enough. For example, when you go on a date with somebody and they ask you how many people you’ve been with, and if you’re honest, people might react poorly if they don’t agree with your number. A man might have a higher double number than you but that’s okay for them, because they’re men. As long as you’re practicing safe sex and respecting yourself and other people – there’s nothing wrong with what you’re doing. Using the label dirty girl in “Teachers” is almost like a mockery of the double standard.
Did any other social issues inspire songs on the record or were they influenced by other situations?
Many of the songs are influenced by other things – like my song “Time Machine” is inspired by a friend that has been struggling with cancer. I like to talk about various topics – some of them are social, some of them are personal, and some of them are philosophical. I had to use music for release – expressing the emotions and processing bad situations – it’s just so honest, opening up about my childhood and things I went through that were dark that have haunted me for a long time. It’s a cathartic experience to get it on some paper and be able to get it [the songs] out there to the world.
What artists have had a great impact on your work?
So many – very many. Growing up I was inspired by Toni Braxton, Tracy Chapman, and Whitney Houston. Vocally, I’m a big fan of Sia – she’s one of my idols when it comes to career path, I admire how she writes for other artists and is just so creative while appealing to the mass audience — which I think is a really difficult feat. And of course, David Bowie – it almost feels like probably a lot of people are saying that because he recently passed away but my photo shoot for Tunnel Vision was very Bowie – it was done before he had passed. I’m also a huge fan of Lady Gaga. I like her aesthetic – she really is true to herself with her thought and art direction.
Who inspires you in your day to day life?
I always find inspiration watching the world and human interactions. Wherever I am – like sitting in a coffee shop – I like to imagine scenarios and kind of make up my own stories. Sometimes they’re real, sometimes they’re not. I draw off of so many different things, regardless of what i’m doing – my good friends who know me will know when I’m on my phone I’m usually writing notes.
Do you have any advice for your fans?
Believe in yourself and no matter what anybody does, as long as you’re being true to you, you are not hurting anybody. Go for it and keep your head up and try to be the best person you imagine yourself to be. You can influence other people around you to create positivity.
Learn more about ARI on her official website: Ari-Music.net.