Sweet, soulful and smooth is this Brown Girl. I’m talking about Aaradhna’s new album (Brown Girl) dropping this July, but let’s be honest. She’s pretty smooth herself.
So where is Aaradhna like, right now? Well fam, our girl from Porirua, Wellington has found herself in the big ole waters of New York, proving she ain’t no small fish. Recording Brown Girl live in Brooklyn (what!) under the expert guidance of Jeff Dynamite from Truth and Soul records (think Aloe Blacc, Adele, Lee Fields & The Expressions), Aaradhna has cranked out her 4th studio album. “My last album Treble & Reverb was a little more sparklier” says the singer “this new album is all me, like a slow burning incense stick, it burns slow but leaves behind a scent that’s 100% authentic”.
But it all had to start somewhere and that somewhere was Grandma’s kitchen, over the freshly minted braids of the super fresh Brotha D. This was the man who just happened to be the co-founder of Dawn Raid Entertainment – New Zealand’s number one urban and pacific record label. Pretty exciting right?
Aaradhna’s aunty was at Grandma’s crib at the time, and encouraged the singer to come over for an impromptu audition. Blown away by her talent, Brotha D knew she had that something special.
It’s no surprise that Aaradhna has such musical talent though. Her Samoan Mum writes music and performs it at her church every week, and her Indian Dad sings and performs traditional Indian songs. That’s a multicultural musical heaven right there.
From beatboxing at school, to recording her tracks on the family answering machine, the sharpest tool in Aaradhna’s box is and has always been her voice. And do you wanna know the best part of it? You can hear it — live. Check her Australasian shows out this June.
Hey Aaradhna. Thanks for the catch up. What’s one of the earliest memories you have of music
Singing along with my mum in the bath to the song by Joe Dolce – Shaddap You Face.
When you were a young-un, can you think of any musicians or songs that developed your ear and voice?
I remember having the Beatles Anthology One on cassette tape and replaying Till There Was You and I Want To Hold Your Hand. I also loved all the songs on their second tape and I played it over and over. Their lyrics and melody just had me.
What did the music scene in Porirua, Wellington, look like when you were growing up?
It was looking like SWV, Toni Braxton, Che Fu and Jodeci. I really got my R&B and hip-hop influence from Porirua thanks to my aunties, uncles and friends from school.
How has the music scene changed since you started in your career?
It’s more accessible thanks to the internet. A lot easier to get and to give.
What would you say makes Australasian R&B unique from the rest of the world?
We have different lifestyles and different cultures. We have similar stories but told uniquely.
Dawn Raid Entertainment was doing some exciting stuff when you came on board. Are there any moments or personalities from then, that stand out to you as being influential on your career?
Every character on the label has taught me something. Brotha D has taught me to be more confident, Adeaze taught me to dig deeper and the Deceptikonz boys taught me lyrical play. There are a lot of things that I have learnt from being on that label and those who have taught me, may not even realise it.
Dammn, you have worked with some truly talented individuals on your next album Brown Girl. Jeff Dynamite, Dan Parry, Tom Coyne… I mean, wow! Can you walk me through how this came to be?
I had a performance in New York at the W Hotel and P-Money actually suggested that we should go and meet Jeff Dynamite from the Truth & Soul label… he had done amazing work with Aloe Blacc. From there my manager Andy invited the Truth & Soul guys to attend my performance. It was an industry event and there was bunch of top producers and singers attending. They watched me perform and they agreed to work with me that very night! It was pretty surreal.
We started recording in Brooklyn the following month. Dan Parry mixed the Adele 19 & 25 record’s and was a friend of Jeff ‘s who had also produced on Adele 19. So that’s how we hooked up. Tom Coyne, well he mastered my favorite album by D’Angelo – Voodoo as well as Amy Winehouse’s Back 2 Black. Jeff suggested he would be perfect for me, it’s pretty crazy to be honest! I am super excited how the music sounds.
By working with these people, what do you think you have learnt that you’ll never forget?
That every single part of the sound (even the smallest part) is critical and important. Every note, every lyric; it’s all so important.
If your new album were a person, what would their character traits be like?
A quiet storm.
You’re on tour for Brown Girl soon (good for you), and it must be a cray cray time. What does an average day look like for you when you get on the road?
On an average day I’d check in to the hotel then nap for an hour. After that it’s off for a sound check and then something to eat. Then I get dressed, have a few glasses of red wine to calm the nerves and we head off to the venue. I tend not talk too much before jumping on stage. After I do my thing and finish performing on stage, I head off to meet with fans. Then have a few more reds, some sleep and do it all over again.
Sounds exciting and full on at the same time. What do you hope listeners take away when hearing your new album?
I hope they hear more then just the melody
What do you get up to between releasing albums?
Writing and creating the albums.
What do you wish you had known when you first started out?
That other peoples opinions about me were never any of my business.
Three things that inspire your creativity?
People, the unknown and red wine.
How do you deal with creative block? Do you even get it?
Whenever I have a creative block I just let myself have the block. I don’t like forcing a song out.
That’s a good way to be. What beats are you pumping through your stereo at the moment?
Chance The Rapper’s latest album Coloring Book.
If you could do a duet with absolutely any musician, who would it be and what would it sound like?
Sam Cooke. It would sound like a dream.
Certainly would. Aaradhna, what would you say are some of the most challenging aspects of being a musician?
Uncertainty. I’ll always be sure of how my music makes me feel when I make it, but I’ll never be sure of where its going to take me.
Do you have some pearls of wisdom for aspiring singers?
Learn to write your own music. Once you’ve learnt the art of that you will have freedom.
What do you hope for your future?
I hope to have no regrets.
What’s your definition of Grindin?
Doing something with a purpose
Thank you so much, you’re awesome. Go smash it Aaradhna.
Thank you! THANK YOU !
Interview by Larissa McMillan
Friday June 3rd – Oxford Art Factory, Sydney
Saturday June 4th – Howler, Melbourne
Saturday June 11th – Neck Of The Woods, Auckland
Friday June 17th – Bodega, Wellington