Arya talks to Loud-Stuff about a too-proud sound tech, the discomfort of genre labelling and their new album For Ever out on 20th October, 2020.
How would you describe your music?
I think describing our sound in a simple formula would be quite difficult.
Our songs usually feature big shifts in dynamics and complex structures, and we like them to be unpredictable but also cohesive and coherent.
We’re a band that loves contaminating genres and experimenting with unorthodox approaches, in order to create music that’s emotionally powerful. We like using distortion, but also clean guitars, we often use odd time signatures and strange chords.
You could say we are a progressive metal band, but we’re far from the stereotypes that genre is known for. During the years we’ve incorporated elements from sludge, black and post metal, as well as alternative and indie rock, shoegaze and jazz.
Tell us about how the history of the project?
Arya started out from a few of songs I had recorded just after finishing a music production course, it was around January 2015. The quality of the recordings was quite bad but, as I felt the other members of my old band would have never accepted my growing metal influences, and finding myself in a really bad moment in my life, I decided to try and find people to create a new band. I wanted to have a more ‘professional’ and dedicated band where we wouldn’t have to argue all the time about what genre our music would have to be.
I met Simone at a lecture in the music school we both used to attend, I sent him the songs and asked him if he wanted to make music with me, while Alessandro was the drummer of our very first band when we were just teenagers, and joined the band later. Our local music scene (Rimini, East coast of Italy) is quite small, so we pretty much all know each other, which becomes a problem when you need a new band member.
The history of the band has been really troubled, with many line-up changes and really tragic turns of events, but despite that (probably even thanks to that) we’ve managed to release four albums and an EP since 2015, touching many different genres of music. We’ve played shows in many regions of Italy, as well as Switzerland, Austria and the San Marino Republic.
What are your influences/ musical heroes?
Our music has always originated from the contamination of many different genres. Each one of us has always brought his own taste and influences to the songwriting process.
In the beginning we started as a wannabe “djent” band influenced by bands such as Tesseract and Periphery, but almost immediately we started incorporating elements from sludge, black metal, hardcore but also jazz, shoegaze and indie rock.
Among the bands that have continued to inspire our music are Karnivool, The Contortionist and Deafheaven, but maybe also the American avant-garde band Bent Knee.
What inspires you?
As far as my contribution to songwriting goes, whenever I hear some music of any genre that surprises and hits me in some way, I try to grasp the essence of it in order to try to incorporate it into something.
It may be a sound, a mood or a harmonic and rhythmic idea. Then, as the other members work on the song structure with me, each one provides new parts, the initial reference to each idea of the song gets lost, and probably the overall end result just ends up sounding like Arya.
When I had to write lyrics, I’ve always come up with very personal ones, I like when I’m able to put my darkest or most unsettling feelings and ideas into words without any self-censorship. However, literature and movies have always been important inspirations, I’ve always read a lot of poetry and dramas, and you can find references to them in many of our songs.
Do you write on the road? Or do you prefer to write in the studio?
Sadly, we’ve never been on the road for much time. Mostly we’ve just stayed away for one night. With the tight schedule we usually need to follow, it would be almost impossible to find the time to sit down and write some new music. So we usually work on new music both at home and in our rehearsal room, which is also our studio when we’re recording. Most songs are developed from a short demo recording of a guitar part: we usually work more on the structure on our own before meeting together to rehearse it and arrange it together.
What is your favourite song to perform live?
It’s probably IKG, from the album Endesires. I think it’s such an awesome set opener, we still haven’t managed make anything better to fill that spot. It’s really exciting and energetic, but not that difficult. It’s just perfect to make us and the audience warm up.
What would be your dream tour to be a part of?
Personally, I’d love to share the stage with Agent Fresco, from Iceland, and the American band Bent Knee. They’re both bands that have a very experimental and personal style that bends the divisions between genres, but they’re also known for their really intense performances. They really seem like people I could get along well with too!
If we got really big I could dream of opening for Karnivool, Periphery or Tesseract. If we never got big, which will probably happen, we still have some good friends in the local scene we could tour with, like Invasion Incorporated, Onioroshi or Built-In Obsolescence. I’d really like to make a tour with one of these bands a reality soon.
What are you current thoughts on the music industry?
I don’t really like how streaming platforms work. Of course they pay you almost nothing unless you’re already a pop-star, but my main issue with them is that their focus on playlists ends up killing the personality and uniqueness of each artist: a playlist gathers similar tracks that share a mood, a tempo, a style, and if you want to be chosen to be part of a popular playlist, so that more people can learn about you, you’re requested to make music that can be easily categorised into the criteria of a specific genre, that reminds people of something they’ve already heard. Music that isn’t easily categorisable is doomed not to become popular. Meanwhile, the result of your hard work, a track that may have been conceived with a specific role inside an album, becomes just another generic element inside a set of similar items, your own personality as an artist hasn’t any relevance anymore.
What is the funniest/weirdest experience you have had on tour?
One night, a few years ago, we were playing in a quite empty club near Bologna. As we started the first song I realised I couldn’t hear my guitar at all, neither in the monitors, nor in the reverb of the room. I got near to the amp, and I heard it was coming out of the speaker normally so, when the song ended, I took the microphone from our singer and informed the sound girl of the problem.
She started yelling angrily at me through the empty room, saying it was so unprofessional from us to interrupt a performance in such a way, and that according to her everything could be heard perfectly.
Our singer at the time was quite touchy and answered back to her, starting a brief discussion.
We had decided to carry on with the set anyway when, suddenly, I heard my guitar gradually appearing into the monitors. Later on we watched a video of our performance taken by a friend, and it became clear she had forgotten to un-mute my channel in the mixer but she didn’t want to admit it.
We never set foot again in that club because of that and other reasons, and I heard it had closed shortly after: the owner clearly wanted to exploit bands to make money by wanting them to pay to play there or not paying them at all, but it didn’t work anyway.
What are your future plans?
We’ll be releasing a new album on October 20. It’s called For Ever, and it’s the darkest and heaviest music we’ve done so far. It deals with the personal aftermath of the band falling apart after the release of our previous album Endesires. We’re gradually releasing most of the songs on our Youtube channel and on bandcamp.
However, if you’re a Spotify user, you can pre-save the album here in order to be notified when it’s out.
Speaking of live concerts, I don’t know if we’ll be able to do any more in 2020: we have Coronavirus going on and, despite the situation in Italy being way better than in other countries as of now, it’s still not a good moment to make medium-term plans, as they could be destroyed any time. We also have a line-up problem to solve before we can hit the stage once again.