New Zealand born singer Aaradhna has one of those names that you’re not quite sure how to pronounce, but, one of those voices that you never forget. The unassuming and striking Kiwi of half Samoan and half Indian heritage has, in recent years, come to be one of the defining soul/R&B voices to come out of the land of the long white cloud, and is now set to re-define her sound with her upcoming album,Treble & Reverb, led by the single Wake Up. She filled Music Feeds in on her love of doo-wop soul groups (who she’d love to work with) and on being a shy girl in the music world.
MF: You have collaborated with many NZ artists over the years; which one has
been your most favourite to collaborate with, and why?
A: I would say my favourite would be with the Adeaze for Getting Stronger because this song is the one that actually put me on the map in NZ, plus I love these guys like family.
MF: Your last album was a collection of soul covers, and the new album has a
definite retro soul, hand-clapping, doo-wop vibe. Is it safe to say that some of the greatest soul artists are your biggest influences. If so, then which artists and why?
A: Yes I would say that they are. Sam Cooke has always been a fave of mine as well as Otis Redding, Ruth Brown, Lavern Baker, Millie Small, Frankie Lymon, Michael Jackson, Amy Winehouse, Calvin Richardson, Richie Valens, The Beatles, Little Anthony & the Imperials, and a whole bunch of doo-wop groups. I look up to these artists because you can hear the honesty and sincerity in their music & that’s the kind of artist I aspire to be.
MF: What is your favourite track off the upcoming album, Treble & Reverb and why?
A: My personal favourite would be I’m Not The Same because it’s simple and really reveals what’s in my heart, I’m not a very out-there type of person and I don’t express myself enough when it comes to talking. The best way I can tell you how I feel is through writing/songs and this song in particular explains how I feel best.
MF: How have your musical influences developed and changed over the years,
especially over your years as an active music artist? Who would your dream collaboration be with? Anyone that would surprise us?
A: While I was an active music artist the influences were still pretty much the same, till I actually took a break from the music scene. I had a lotta time to discover new artists & old greats. I took the time to really just sit down and properly listen to these gems, that and gaining new experiences from life itself…from then on my songwriting and singing style has changed a bit due to these new finds & new experiences. My music certainly has grown; I would say that my sound today is much more mature compared to what I was on 6 or 7 years ago.
My dream collaboration would be Calvin Richardson because he’s awesome sauce, or Andre 3000 or Missy Elliot.
MF: Can you describe to us how the songs on the album came to life? Did you set out to write a set of retro soul numbers, or was it a more organic process that happened to fit into that style?
A: I let the song roll off my tongue and write itself. Most of the music I write turns out sounding like 50’s R&B unintentionally, but I do get some odd times where my 90’s influence rolls in.
MF: Your vocal styling has always seemed to me to be fluid and effortless, and it’s definitely ‘your’ sound. Do you realise that you have a distinctive style? Can you describe to us how you see the ‘Aaradhna’ sound?
A: I see my sound as a mixture of all the artists I grew up listening to: my mum and dad, my Samoan & Indian culture, and my kiwi-ness all rolled into one.
MF: Do you prefer touring, the writing process or recording? Why?
A: I prefer writing and recording at home because it’s the easiest and most comfortable part of the process. I still sometimes get stage fright when I do gigs.
MF: What is your favourite show that you’ve played? Why?
A: My favourite one was the last one I played at, which was in American Samoa, because it was the most comfortable I’ve felt on stage; the crowd was awesome and I was fully in the zone, so it was all good vibes.
MF: What’s one thing about you that most fans wouldn’t know and that would surprise them?
A: I’m super duper shy & I hate it.
MF: Where do you see NZ music in general heading in the near future? Are there
any NZ or Aussie bands that you see as changing the game down here?
A: NZ music is on the UP and it’s still climbing. Kimbra, Maisey Rika, Ria Hall, Ladi 6, and Iva Lamkum. They are changing up the game and making it a better one!
MF: What’s on your ipod at the moment?
A: D’angelo, Ruby & the Romantics, Patsy Cline, Lauryn Hill, Santo & Johnny, Danny Boy, Shai, The decoders, and Brandy. Just to name a few.
MF: What’s coming up next for you on the back of the release of this album?
MF: Where do you see yourself musically in 5 years time?
A: Still making music (0: