Popping Up is our recurring look at new artists making noise on the music landscape. Because, hey — Madonna and Britney were once unknown, too.
Earlier this year, we stumbled upon Aaradhna‘s “Wake Up,” a lovely piece of retro pop from New Zealand. Her vocals commanded our attention — it was like listening to a more chipper Amy Winehouse — and that motivated us to find out more about the Kiwi singer. Turns out Aaradhna had been releasing music for a few years in her home country, but was now making the jump to the US market.
So when the Republic Records signee made her way to New York, we made sure to snag some studio time with her so we could introduce her to American listeners (because you guys seriously need to experience her song “Lorena Bobbitt”). Watch our interview up top to learn more about her influences, her decision to officially release music here and her strategy for getting back at her exes. Then read on for even more about Aaradhna.
SOUNDS LIKE: Aaradhna describes her sound as Retro/Metro — a brilliantly simple label that, you can probably guess, means melding her Doo-wop vocals with soulful arrangements and modern production flair. But where she differs from Winehouse and, say, Adele, is that her music is a little peppier. “The music back home is more raw, more rootsy and natural,” she told us. “So I feed off that stuff and try to keep things natural. But I’m influenced by music abroad. So I take a bit of my old school and try to add a more modern flavor to it.”
INFLUENCES: Aaradhna’s got a long list of influences (just check out her Facebook page), but Amy Winehouse is the biggest one. “In 2006, my partner bought me Back To Black, and I kept repeating it, playing it every day,” she said. “I connected with her lyrics. She wrote music that wasn’t fake, her lyrics were just on-point. And I love that she threw it way back to the Doo-wop style. I always loved that old school music, but I never got to do that style. She helped me embrace it more.”
COVERING AMY: Covering Winehouse is a daunting task (just ask Beyonce and Andre 3000 how it went), but when we asked Aaradhna if she’d ever cover her idol, she was totally game. “Hell yeah! But not a serious cover, like that I’d put out and sell. I’d just do it because I love it, and put it on YouTube or whatever.”
COMING TO AMERICA: ”I’ve always wanted to put my music out overseas, especially in America,” she said. “I was always waiting for the opportunity, and it all started happening last year. When I released ‘Wake Up’ back home, it started catching some buzz here.”
“It’s a lot more work building songs up over here. There’s a whole bunch of things to do — the same stuff as New Zealand, but times 100 here. I get excited for the promo work, but at the same time it’s daunting. The singing is the easy part!”
DREAM COLLABORATIONS: Aaradhna has a new collaboration with Talib Kweli, but she’s not stopping there. “I’ve dreamed of working with Andre 3000, and I love Missy Elliott. And Calvin Richardson. People I grew up listening to.”
WHAT’S NEXT: The singer is prepping her next album, which will get a US release. “We don’t have a date for the album yet, but most definitely it’ll come out this year. It’s got a Doo-woop, R&B feel to it.”