By: Kat Harlton
Port Colborne singer/songwriter Aarys recently released her debut album “Secrets”. Produced by Tim Abraham the album deals with vulnerability, mental health and coming into one’s own. Aarys who has struggled with depression and anxiety, decided to take matters into her own hands by giving speeches around Ontario, which led to an invitation to give a Ted X talk in September of 2018. In her talk she discussed using music as a tool to cope with mental illness and to educate the world, in hopes of encouraging empathy towards others.
We caught up with the emerging artist to talk songwriting, mental health and what’s next.
Kat: Can you talk about the inspiration behind your debut album ‘Secrets’?
Aarys: I’ve spent a lot of my life hiding the way I felt and not letting people get to know who I really am. Part of that was because I have dealt a lot with anxiety and depression, and the stigma attached to mental health struggles often makes people think that they aren’t allowed to feel or be open about those feelings, or else they will make others uncomfortable. After some therapy, I realized the importance of talking about mental health and just being more open with my feelings and my story. So, I wrote these songs, drawing on my experiences with mental health and relationships (both with others, and with myself), and I called my debut album ‘Secrets’ because I don’t want to hide anymore. It’s my invitation for the world to start to get to know me.
Kat: What was your experience like working with Tim Abraham (Grand Analog, Peter Katz, Royal Wood)?
Aarys: Working with Tim was fantastic. He’s crazy talented. When I first met him, I really didn’t quite know what kind of music I was trying to make. So, not only was he the main producer on all of the songs, but he really actually helped me find my identity as an artist. I feel like I’ve also become a better songwriter and even a better singer through the process of learning from him and all of my other collaborators as well.
Kat: You’ve been open about struggling with depression and anxiety and using music as a tool to cope, can you expand on that?
Aarys: Yes absolutely! I’ve become somewhat of an advocate for breaking the stigma around mental illness and a part of that has been to be as open as possible. I’ve written songs on the subject, but I’ve also began speaking at events throughout Ontario, sharing my stories and my songs, and talking about how music is an amazing tool that can be used to cope. For example, I find music therapy fascinating and have done a ton of research on its effects. Songwriting, singing, and even just listening to music can do so much for a person’s mental health. And when we listen to music, it’s actually been found to activate an area of our brains linked to empathy. So I think it can be a powerful tool to encourage us to empathize with each other as human beings rather than judge people while they struggle with something.
Kat: Who are some of your musical influences or inspirations?
Aarys: I’ve always loved big voices and personalities in music. Bishop Briggs is one of my main inspirations lately, but I grew up obsessed with Amy Lee and Freddy Mercury. What they all seem to have in common are insane vocal chops and an amazing, electric stage presence. I’m also inspired by BANKS, Billie Eilish, Lennon Stella and so many more artists (especially females).
Kat: What’s on your playlist?
Aarys: Billie Eilish’s new record has been on repeat. So have songs by some of my favourite indie artists right now like iamhill and Charlotte Sands. And then we’ve got music by Lennon Stella, Matt Maeson, Elijah Woods x Jamie Fine, Halsey, Broods, Sasha Sloan, Bishop Briggs, Donna Missal, Lewis Capaldi, LSD (Labyrinth, Sia, Diplo), Dex Arson etc etc.
Kat: Do you have any advice for emerging artists?
Aarys: Maybe if I type this out, I’ll take this advice myself. DON’T COMPARE YOURSELVES TO OTHERS. It’s really easy to get down on yourself if you see other artist’s careers and accomplishments and wonder why you haven’t had the same experiences. Everyone is different, and everyone’s measure of “success” is different. You will find success in your own time if you really work for it.
Kat: What’s next?
Aarys: What I really really want to do next is book a tour. Performing live is one of my favourite things to do in the world, and performing this record is proving to be the most fun I’ve ever had on stage. Other than that, working hard at promoting a couple of singles from this album while constantly writing/collaborating/experimenting until I find the inspiration for the next project.
For more on Aarys, please visit: https://aarysmusic.com