Interview: Aruna

21 October 2012 - - - The DJ List


In the male-dominated world of EDM, one singer-songwriter is determined to be seen as more than ‘eye candy’ or a voice for hire. ARUNA is not solely the pretty vocalist you hear on your favorite tracks--she’s penned a chart-topping single recorded by Miley Cyrus for the multi-platinum selling #1 Billboard Hannah Montana soundtrack, collaborated with some of dance music’s biggest names, and has added DJing to her arsenal of skills. Along with being a classically trained pianist and formerly sought after studio musician, it’s safe to say that Aruna is one of the industry’s most exciting and successful leading ladies.

The DJ List: Hey Aruna, it seems like you are having an amazing year, can you tell us what you been up to?

It has been a great year actually. Ironically, last year was really a busy busy year for me in terms of studio work. But you know sometimes it takes a while for things that you work on to see the light of day. A lot of the stuff that came out this year, are things that I largely worked on last year. We started the year with my collaboration with FERRY CORSTEN called 'Live Forever' which arguably is the biggest track of my career so far. Which was received really well, it was the number one track on Beatport for almost 2 whole months. Then, immediately after that came the track, The Great Divide, which is my project with MYON & SHANE 54 called Velvetine. That track did very well and actually set a record for me, because it was the first song that became a trending topic on twitter and also first top 30 overall Beatport release. Also SEVEN LIONS did a remix that became the number 1 track on Beatport's Dubstep list. Which is a beautiful remix he did, the kid is definitely blowing up this year. Then of course there was my own single, 'Save The Day' which came out on the 8th of October. Remixes are coming out in about two weeks I believe, on Black Hole records. So yes, definitely a busy year.

The DJ List: You work a lot with Myon & Shane 54 and perform with them regularly. But you also have a side project with them called Velvetine, can you explain to us what the difference is between those two?

Well Velvetine has not done any live gigs as Velvetine yet. It is definitely something we want to do, but we maybe need a couple of more tracks before we start doing that, because we only have two so far. A Velvetine show is going to be very different from our own stuff. A lot more liberties taken, a lot less rigid 4 on the floor type of sound. There will just be a lot more musical freedom involved as we are trying to incorporate a lot more instrumentals with these big orchestral breakdowns. It is going to just give it a more sophisticated feeling. One of the things we really want to do is incorporate live instruments, midi controllers and really make it more of a performance than just a DJ set. As for Myon & Shane 54 everyone obviously knows they do great DJ sets, lots of high energy sets and me, sometimes I will come on stage and sing for 15 minutes when they are DJing or I will do my own DJ set and sing at the end of that.

The DJ List: You track 'Save The Day' has been climbing the charts, how did that track come together?

We started the track last year and it was funny, I was in Hungry at the time and working in the studio with Myon. We were working on about 3 tracks at the same time, one of them was 'All Around You' with Cosmic Gate, one was 'Save The Day' and another one was their single, which is not yet done. But it is going to be a monster track so make sure you look out for that one. So I was working on one of the tracks and made this chorus that I really loved. I showed it to Myon and he said it was a little commercial for him, but It might be good for your track. So that eventually became the chorus for 'Save The Day' and I ended up writing a whole song around that chorus. The lyrics is about a failing relationship and that moment in a failing relationship when you realize for the first time it is just done and it is time to go. It is kind of funny, because when I wrote that I was not in any situation like that at the time, I actually was in a relationship at that time. Now that this track is out, we broke up and it became very very real. It was right around the time that the track was on promo, that I got that feeling that I was describing in the song. What is really interesting to is that the song is not just about relationship issues, it is also about life, pressure, time and wanting to achieve things and making every moment count, because we are not getting any younger. It was both of those things that rolled into one song and I was feeling that as well. I think probably in the history of my songwriting , I never had a track track that I wrote in the past, not really specific to anything, been so relevant to my life at the time of its release.

The DJ List: You also just spend some time in the studio with ARMIN VAN BUUREN. What can we expect to hear from that collaboration?

I do not want to jinx anything so I do not want to say anything is set, but we are working on a track together and he is very excited about it. It is not faster than most of the stuff I have been doing lately, but it feels faster. It is a sound that has a little more of a resemblance of some of my older tracks like Alex M.o.r.p.'s remix of 'Ashley' where it has that harder and more uplifting kind of feeling. It kind of resembles the track I did with Markus Schulz. I have a lot of fans that kind of miss those days and tracks. You know, like 'Everywhere You Are' Shiver mix and even 'Falling Backwards' I have not done anything like that in a while. My own preference lies more around 132 PBM Myon & Shane kind of sound. But I think people are going to really dig this sound and it was another one I wrote at the tail end of my relationship. It is about fighting to stay together and make it work, so it are some very emotional lyrics.

The DJ List: You also have your own radio show called, The Hot List. Can you tell us what the show is all about and how it compares to all the other shows out there?

A few things with that show. First off, my goal with that show is to really showcase who I am as an artist, my taste in the best music out there and one the main reason my show is able to do that more than any other show is the fact that A, its bi-weekly and B, it is an hour. Because it is not produced weekly and it is not 2 hours I can be really really picky in what I put in there. Also because of my relationship with some of these guys I get stuff fairly soon from them. I also can showcase my own stuff pretty early and I can easily make my own mash-ups because I have my own acapellas that no one else does. I play a lot of Myon & Shane's mash-ups as well. So yea it is just a very tasteful and high energy show, it is also to give people a glimpse of what I do live as a DJ. There are not that many girls doing that, so I think it is important to present well, as a female, because people have so little faith. I hate to say it, but you really have to bring it twice as hard as the guys to get the same amount of respect. So yea, that is what I do with my show.

The DJ List: You also made the switch to DJing, how did that get started?

Well actually Myon & Shane kind of planted that seed in my brain. When they first laid that on me I was like, No! Just because it was overwhelming, it was a whole new barrel of worms to dive into. I do have a lot of musical training in sound design, production and midi and I was a music major at Berkeley so I am not scared to use the software. But it is still, I mean I see what these guys do and how much work is involved, so I was like no. But I was there, in Hungry and was like, you know what, show me how to do it. So he laid a bunch of tracks out for me and broke it down. I tried it and the minute i made my first transition I was hooked. That moment when the old track goes out and the new track comes in and together they create this new thing and the whole arc you make when you build sets, it is so much fun. Now I think it has become a huge part of who I am as an artist. Also, one of the reasons I started coming around to it was because I was getting kind of tired of flying 7,000 miles and then going on stage for 20 minutes. It seems absurd, I just wanted my time up there and want my moment and show people what I have to offer, which is more than just writing and singing. Obviously it is still a big part of it and it is never going to change, but as a writer you are showcasing your taste and instinct which is kind of the same as a DJ. I am huge fan of the scene and the music so what better way to show your love for it then to present your favorite tracks.

The DJ List: Did you set any goals for yourself to achieve with DJing?

Well one of them I actually achieved this year, which was to do a guest mix on Trance Around The World. So I did that and it got received extremely well, which is amazing. Another goal, which I have not achieved yet, is to crack the Top 100 on DJ Mag, but I gave myself another 2 years to accomplish that. But I got my sights on it. NERVO made it this year, which is great, they are very talented girls. I think the way they present themselves, they are not showing their tits or anything like that, they are just fun and talented. They are great writers and genuinely talented and they are producing and representing women really well.

The DJ List: Do you see yourself as some sort of role model for other female producers and DJs?

People have told me that I am and that is a huge thing for me. It is a huge honor when you have someone say that to you, because there are people how I feel like that about. But on the on the other hand if people are really looking up to you, you have to set your bar high and be somebody who is an inspiring person and put out the best material you can possibly can.

The DJ List: What can we expect for the rest of 2012 in terms of releases and shows?

Two new remixes of 'Save The Day' one of them that I just world premiered on my radio show which is the TOM FALL Remix. Which is amazing, but in terms of new tracks, no more tracks this year. I am not a big fan of releasing tracks late in the year, but I think early next year it is going to be the Myon & Shane 54 release, if things go smoothly the Armin track will come out and I am working with a handful of guys on a follow up single to 'Save The Day' and we are also working on the a new Velvetine track, but those two are still in their very early stages. In a perfect world, I would love to do an album, but I am just not sure about the certain logistics involved . It is of course a lot of money to do an album and a lot of time to do an album and with the state of the industry and the downloading and stuff, I start to really question if it is worth my time. Because it is really important to stay current on peoples minds, so I do not want to disappear into the studio for a year and half to do an album. But with that being said, with Velvetine, we are actually seriously talking about doing an album. The reason to do it with Velvetine is that it makes more sense because there is three of us and it is just easier to get it done. We are a complete package as it is and Myon is fast, he just cranks out tracks. I am the slow one, because I am a perfectionist and I am constantly figuring out if this is good or that is good. He is the one who will kick me in the pants saying, alright this is good do it finish it done and next. So he and I are just a great checks and balances system. Maybe I am a little bit to stogy and he is a little bit to slapdash, but we balance each other so it works out. So yes, album with Velvetine is very much possible. Hopefully the pace of the production will be a lot quicker than 'The Great Divide' was. As for shows, Exchange LA on the 9th of November. We set the record for attendance at that club the last time we played there in July. I heard it from the owner, and I believe it, because I never seen it that packed ever again. The venue is not only beautiful, but Insomniac, there is a reason those guys are on top of the game right now. They are so good in what they do, they really know how to treat artists and they are so organized. So every time I worked with them it has been great. that venue is great and of course the LA fans are amazing, so that is definitely in the top 2 of gigs that I am looking forward to. Then the other one is a new years gig in Phuket, Thailand. I always wanted to go there and I heard it is beautiful and I am sure that time of the year it will be very warm. I do not know anything about the gig itself, but I cannot wait to go to Thailand and eat some of that amazing food.

About the Author

Sean Daleweij
alex m.o.r.p.h. armin van buuren ferry corsten myon & shane 54 nervo aruna tom fall seven lions

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