…well her opinions and her story anyways.
Ahead of her performance at Guaba Beach Bar with Myon & Shane 54 we had the chance to quiz the young lady who’s taking the trance world by storm, both with her voice and her performances.
We shot some pretty tricky questions at her, so have a look at what she had to say…
1/ Your big break came in 2007 with Thrillseeker’s ‘Waiting Here for You’, what were you up to before that?
After graduating Berklee College of Music in 2000, I moved to LA and began relentlessly pursuing a career as a pop artist. I had a few minor breaks here and there (such as opening for some major label acts and having a few songs of mine featured in some MTV shows) but nothing was really igniting. In 2006, however, I was lucky enough to have a song of mine recorded and released by Disney’s Hannah Montana on her debut soundtrack album, which went on to sell over 3,000,000 copies in the US alone. It was a huge windfall for me and the money has been fantastic but I still was feeling unfulfilled as an artist. I was getting frustrated with the results I was having in the pop world and so decided to change course. Right around this time a dance remix of one of my pop songs was discovered on MySpace by Stuart Squires, a manager based in LA who had several vocalist clients at the time such as Jaren and Damae. He saw a potential in my voice on dance tracks and so began hooking me up with producers. Less than six months later, Steve Helstrip (The Thrillseekers) came calling, and the rest, as they say, is history.
2/ You then followed this collaboration with other massive hits with the likes of Cosmic Gate, ATB and Myon & Shane 54; what, if there was one, has been the most challenging part about working with such big names?
Honestly, I treat each and every collab I take on exactly the same, no matter who I’m working with. It always has to live up to my own standards of excellence at the end of the day. Sometimes it can take me quite a while to get a topline as good as I want it, which is why I’m always very picky about who and what I choose to take on. Since I know I’ll be making a significant time investment I really can’t afford to commit to too much.
3/ You signed on with Anjunabeats for your single ‘Let Go’, what advice would you give to young singers who would like to be signed up to such a prestigious Trance label?
Quality control is absolutely key, especially with Anjuna. Make sure your toplines are as catchy and concise as you possibly can make them. Work with coaches or teachers on your singing and your writing if necessary. Listen to some of your favorite big hits and try to analyze why they work. There’s such a glut of releases coming out these days that it really takes an exceptional talent to rise to the top and get heard. Also try and cultivate a voice thats uniquely yours, that is true to who you are and how you want the world to see you as an artist, a voice that people can immediately identify as yours when they hear it. Nadia Ali, Jes and Audrey Gallagher come to mind as good examples of this. Lastly be VERY careful who you choose to collaborate with and also who you employ on your team as agent and manager. These people can literally make or break you. Once you find a team you trust, be sure to check in regularly and stay on top of things. At the end of the day its your career!
4/ What is your response to the people who criticize trance vocal artists to be quite fake in terms of the aid used by the producers?
Hahahah. Sadly theres quite a lot of this. EDM in general is a very male-dominated industry. Female artists are looked upon with a great deal of skepticism in terms of their talent , and many people will always credit the producer for the singer’s writing or their sound. While this is in fact the case in many instances, there are also many instances where the singer is genuinely contributing a lot creatively, and where their talent is legit. Pitch correction is employed in varying degrees on pretty much every release nowadays, and it doesn’t necessarily mean that singers can’t sing in tune. It’s simply a level of precision and a sound that the public’s ears have grown accustomed to, so much that even the best singers would sound slightly off without it. I started seeing exactly this kind of distrust on forums after “Waiting Here For You” came out, and it was driving me mad. I had spent years of my life working my ass off to develop myself as a singer, writer and musician, to learn about composition, counterpoint, arranging, and advanced music theory. It felt like such a slap in the face to hear people talking as if I knew nothing. I knew I had the goods, and felt like it was time to prove it. My answer to all of this was my Red Room Sessions YouTube videos, which feature stripped down, acoustic performances of me singing my dance songs and accompanying myself on piano. No beats, no vocal effects. And people seem to really enjoy them, so I guess you could say it was a win/win. But yes, as per your original question, ladies wishing to ride the EDM horse need to have a tough skin and be ready to put up a good fight.
5/ This is your first performance on this island, have you heard about performing here from peers? Who had what to say?
Myon and Shane played at Guaba Beach last summer, and told me immediately afterwards that it was one of the best gigs they ever played, that the crowds were amazing and the overall vibe of the place was so laid-back and beautiful. From the videos I’ve seen on Guaba’s website, it seems a lot like how Miami was during Winter Music Conference when I went back in 2007. There’s something so cool about pool parties in the middle of the afternoon with dance music and DJs, where people are wearing bikinis and swimshorts instead of jeans and high heels. I think people feel like they can be more themselves in such a natural setting like this. So yeah, I am REALLY looking forward to experiencing all this myself!
6/ As a vocalist, do you feel the pressure of carrying the crowd falls on you when you do a live performance? How do you deal with this pressure?
Vocalists have to deal with and be conscious of many things during live performances. First and foremost you have to sing well, which means staying hydrated, maybe warming up earlier in the day and doing lots of deep breathing to make sure your nervousness doesn’t undermine your ability to use your instrument well. On top of all this you have to look good, move well, and absolutely yes, keep the crowd engaged. I worked for ten years as an entertainer at various dueling piano bars around the country, which was great training for this sort of thing, as they were pretty rowdy places and the customers there had the attention span of a three-year-old. Every night you were singing at the top of your lungs to 600 drunk college kids, getting them up dancing and singing along with you, and cracking jokes along the way. So whatever shyness or stagefright I ever had got pretty much demolished during those years. I learned how to feel really comfortable just talking to people during performances, joking with them, toasting them. You can definitely see this in my live performances even now. I think at the end of the day the most important thing is just to have fun up there! That’s one of the most impactful things you can do to ensure that the crowd will be having a good time with you as well.
7/ Until now, what has been the most memorable moment of your career as a Trance Vocalist?
Wow, thats a really tough question, as there have been quite a few. I would say my first ever live performance in Da Nang, Vietnam would be at the top of the list. I had so gotten used to performing in little LA bars and coffeehouses for 30-60 people, so imagine my surprise when I walked into this club an hour before I was about to go on and it was packed to the rafters with nearly 1,000 people. I almost fell over then and there!
8/ We asked you on your Facebook fan page if you had anything special planned for this performance and you replied that you were planning to shock us with something special. Any hints as to what to expect?
Well its kinda hard to hint about without completely giving it away, so I suppose I can just let it out of the bag now. It seems that in addition to my live performance at Guaba, I will be doing a special one-hour DJ set as well! I started DJ’ing back in February when I was with Myon for a month in Hungary. He taught me all his tricks, loaded me up with tracks and mashups and off I went. I actually had no idea how much I would love it. For the first 2 months after I learned how to do it, I was completely addicted, sometimes DJ’ing three to six hours straight, sometimes until well after sunrise. I had my first live DJ set at Circus in LA last month with Ronski Speed and Cressida and it was just an amazing experience. I loved having that much control over the energy in the room. And while I usually play pretty hard, I also really love playing some slower, more proggy stuff as well, which it seems I’ll get to play a lot of during my Guaba set.
9/ What can we expect from you in the coming months?
I’m working on quite a handful of new tracks at the moment, including another Aruna track which will be the follow-up single to “Let Go”. And we just submitted a new Velvetine single to Anjunabeats and are very much looking forward to getting that one released, as its been nearly a year in the making! I’m also currently working on a new logo and website as well as developing a monthly podcast, all of which should launch towards the end of the summer.
10/ If you could do a collaboration with one artist, dead or alive, in any genre, who would they be?
I would absolutely love to work with Duncan Sheik or John Mayer. I think those two are amongst the most talented artists around during the past several decades.
11/ In 3 words how would you describe live Electronic Dance Music events?
“Euphoric electric freedom!”
Thank you very much for your time and we hope hear more from you both before and after the event.
Count on it! Thank YOU for having me. see you there!
So there you have it folks, wise words and a deep insight from the one and only Aruna.
Got any follow up questions or would like to get any more info from this amazing vocalist, drop a comment below.