Interviewing breakout singer ARI ahead of her debut EP

When I first sat down in preparation to interview Arianna Hicks (ARI), I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’d been following her music journey for a little while and was very excited to talk more with her about it and get to know the girl behind the music.

”I’m excited for everything to be coming out.” Says Hicks.

ARI is on the rise to big things. In 2016, she posted her first cover on Youtube. Fast forward to February of 2020, she's officially releasing her own song, which has gained well-deserved traction and resulted in her performing live for the first time at ‘Together At The Drive-In hosted by Together Toronto. This past year, she has truly cemented herself in the industry and has proved she is an artist to keep your eyes on, which is why you should listen to her debut EP, "IDIOTGRL," on August 14th.

Photo by Nicole Davis

While she has always enjoyed singing as a pastime, growing up in Toronto, it didn't seem like a likely career choice. The traditional path in life was going to school and getting a job soon after. With this being the hometown “norm”, ARI believed that this would be her fate as well. However, after searching within herself, she decided to take a gap year and found herself in Los Angeles for just over a week during that time. Little did she know that within that week she would find and make connections that would allow her to return for another six months, changing the path she would take and allowing her to develop and discover a love and passion for singing into a full-blown career.

It was in Los Angeles where she would meet friend and manager, Nicole, who ARI says is the person who got the ball rolling on her career and really helped to bring her vision of what a career in music would look like for herself.

With three songs currently streaming on all major music platforms and her "IDIOTGRL" EP set to release in two weeks, take a journey into the heart and soul of Arianna Hicks and get to know the girl behind the music and talk about her upcoming release in this interview done with us here at Dark Matter Publications.

Carly: How do you hope to be defined as an artist?

ARI: I mean, for anyone defining a brand is a huge thing. What I’ve stuck to is honesty. That’s always the easiest place to start with stuff that’s true to you. I wanted everything to be pieces of me so that I can start creating a brand where people recognize it as me. And another thing that I’ve been doing as well is not trying to box myself into a certain genre. So, in terms of differentiating myself, I’m still honing in on exactly who I am as an artist. But so far my golden rule has been honesty.

Photo by Nicole Davis

C: Because you’re writing from such a personal space, how would you say your writing process differs from artists around you?

A: I like to write with a co-write, which is amazing. A lot of the time, I like to come up with the concepts before going in to do the song. I've found a groove, especially with one specific co-write, Rachel. What she and I do is explain my interpersonal concept of the day. I'll just tell the story of what it is that I want to write about, and she'll write all of it down, and then we'll go through and pick apart what we want to put in the song and how we want to get it across. And that's something that I find is really nice because then you don't end up leaving anything out.

C: We got a chance to listen to your EP at my publication so let’s talk a little about that! You’ve grown a lot as an artist. How does that growth reflect in your "IDIOTGRL" EP?

A: It’s the story of me, but it's different parts. Some are true to this day, and some are backstory. It’s honesty, but not so much so that it’s necessarily complementary. That’s something I really seem to like doing.

Maybe it’s like a personality trait or liking to me to take a go at myself sometimes. And I’d say that’s what most of the songs on the EP are like. So for instance, "All Dressed up" is about my hugest pet peeve when people cancel on me. Sometimes its something so stupid like that, but because it’s so big to me I like to try to write about it. And then "Idiot Grl" itself is more personal and was written to be more conversational.

So, maybe the growth isn’t in the EP itself, but I do talk about that growth. When I started this, I wouldn’t have been able to write most of those songs, I haven’t really thought about that until now. When I started writing, I was nervous about, you know, saying the wrong thing or my ideas not being good enough. Thankfully, I got out of that, and I contributed more ideas until I was contributing full melodies. And then, the concept was completely mine.

C: When you release the "IDIOTGRL" EP on August 14th, what do you hope that listeners take away from it knowing something like that?

A: What I hope is that someone listens to [it] and gets their own thing from it. It’s the one thing I want. I think that my dad told me this and it was one of my favorite things because I never thought about it. He said, “Why do people listen to music when they're sad?” And I was like, “I don't know” and he said, “Most of the time, it's because people don't actually know how to feel. So listening to music, they want to feel like... helps them [to] get there and express that feeling.” And that's something that I want to be able to do for people.

Photo by Nicole Davis

C: Speaking of wanting to help and inspire like other people through your music. Are there any artists or people in your life that have done that for you as a creator?

A: I was never someone that loved artists as artists, if that makes sense, I kind of just like music, and I didn't really care who sang it or what genre it was, but it was only the past year or two that I've started loving artists and understanding the kind of craft that goes into artistry.

I mentioned Halsey a few times already but every time she performed "Graveyard," she changed the setup. And each time it was a different, conceptual meaning to her, and that's something that I think is genius. Or Melanie Martinez is crazy with conceptual nature but Billie as well. She's someone that's also great at that. Or like, there's this girl ELOHIM and like a running theme through her videos that she has the same little girl that acts in them, little things like that, that most people wouldn't notice. That's the stuff that really inspires me.

C: What about within your family? How has your family contributed to how you've grown as a person not only as an artist but also just in the general sense of how they supported you throughout starting your music career to where you are now?

A: I've been a lot luckier than most to have the support of my family. My mom was a little harder to wrangle in, but she's always wanted me to sing. She just also wanted me to be safe. But especially now [my family] has been nothing but supportive.

They've always been willing to let me push for what I've wanted to do, which has been really helpful because every time I come back with something, they're like, “Whoa, this is great.” And you know, when I hit certain milestones, like, I got a billboard in Times Square, they were like, “Oh my god!" They've been super, super proud. And even before, you know, anytime I'd send them a song that I had worked on or traveled a lot, they were always supportive of me doing what I needed to do.

C: That's incredible and so sweet. But my last question for you today is what piece of advice do you have for anybody else out there who might want to follow the path of music, but they don't know where to start?

A: To be honest, it's gonna suck. It's gonna suck a lot. There's gonna be a lot of disheartening moments. A lot of the process, I think, is glorified and forgotten of what it takes. You have to be super passionate about it. I wish someone had told me how hard it was going to be and didn't sugarcoat it. You're going to have to be super willing to work really hard at it and, it's tough to learn how to keep yourself going through that, but you have to because if you love what you do, then, as cliche as it sounds, it shouldn't matter. Be patient with yourself and just keep putting out the stuff that you love, as cliche as that sounds.

ARI’s music can be found on all streaming platforms. New music is set to release on August 14th, 2020. She shares with all listeners a glimpse into a very personal space in hopes of inspiring others to not only be unapologetically themselves but to understand that though it may feel like it, many of the struggles we as individuals are facing are not being faced alone.

Photo by Nicole Davis

Keep an eye out for new music videos, merch drops, and even a Halloween surprise.

Check out ARI's latest single Cold War here.

Keep up with her on Twitter here.

Keep up with her on Instagram here.