The last time we spoke with Toronto native singer-songwriter ARI, she had just released her debut EP, Tunnel Vision, tackling social and emotional issues like sexual double standards and human trafficking. Since then, she’s been busy writing songs for other artists and working on her new EP Dis-Order. Using her past as inspiration, ARI’s music speaks to people in ways some other artists’ music may not. The raw and emotional angle she takes at songwriting is refreshing in this era of cookie-cutter singles, and her music always delivers a message of feeling empowered through personal trauma. Coming as no surprise, the name ARI in Hebrew means “lion.” Her lyricism, sound, and style are strong and powerful. Trying to pinpoint a genre ARI fits in is tough. She dances in multiple, including electronic, alt-pop, and hip-hop. Making for a sound all her own.
Over the next few months, ARI will be releasing songs from her new EP, Dis-Order, along with a short film project, Grace. This whole campaign is being called “Pain into Power.’ Both the EP and film are dedicated to mental health awareness, an issue ARI cares about on a personal level. Struggling with anxiety, depression, PTSD, insomnia, and ADHD herself, she hopes that through her projects she can help others with self-acceptance and break the stigma attached to mental health. The ticket sales from the project will go to Jack.org, a youth mental health network that teaches young people how to care for their own mental health.
Inspirer and ARI have teamed up to premiere her first track from Dis-Order, “Cattle Call,” ahead of its Halloween release. We also caught up with her about what she’s been up to since we last spoke, her new EP, and the Pain into Power project.
The last time we spoke was in May of last year, what have you been up to since then?
Wow. A lot has happened since then! I’ve been writing for other artists a lot more lately and focusing on my second EP. I recorded three EPs and then decided on the final songs. It took a bit longer than I anticipated, but I’m really excited to release my music and short film.
How would you describe your music to a new listener?
In four words, I’d say emotional, raw, honest, and empowering.
What is different about your new music?
This EP has a different message than my last one. My first EP, Tunnel Vision, was very personal like this one is, but in another sense. Dis-Order makes me feel more empowered and it connects to a higher purpose much bigger than myself, which is important to me.
Over the next few months, you will be releasing new music from your EP Dis-Order. What inspired these new songs and EP?
This EP was a creative catharsis for me. It helped me channel the pain I needed to heal into power, which is why it’s dedicated to mental health awareness, a cause close to my heart. I hope that the songs inspire others to do the same and know that they are not alone. I’ve struggled with anxiety, depression, PTSD, insomnia, and ADHD. Music and writing have always been there for me. It’s my source and a pillar for me to lean on. I honestly don’t know what I would do without it.
The title Dis-Order separates the word into two because to me it represents disorganized order. I think I was able to find order again by separating myself from disorders I’ve struggled with rather than being defined by them. Some of the songs are deeply emotional and reflect on the experience of disorders. “Flashbacks” is about PTSD, and “Miss You” is about depression and grief after losing a loved one. Other songs are about vulnerability, confidence, and relationships. They are a bit more lighthearted.
This EP feels like a diary. Writing it really helped me accept myself. It’s like it reconnected disjointed fragments of dark and light elements inside me that were out of sync. I got my inner peace back – something I wasn’t sure I’d ever have again at one point.
“Cattle Call” is the first single, and is about exhaustion and overworking. “Run till we ran out” is when you’ve given all of yourself away and have nothing left to give. It’s a reminder for balance. Our society and our expectations of ourselves demand so much energy from us. Especially artists. It feels like a lot of us end up chasing dreams instead of living in them.
Tell us about your new film project Pain into Power.
The second release is a short film that features my music and amazing CFC Alumni actors in Toronto. The film is about a father experiencing depression through the eyes of his young daughter. I’ve produced a couple of music videos, but this is my first time creating a short film. I’m collaborating on this project with my boyfriend, Dan Abramovici. He’s a talented filmmaker and director. He wrote the script and is directing it, and we are shooting it in Toronto next week. We’re screening the first rough cut at my release party/show in LA at Dirty Laundry on November 14 and the final cut in Toronto at The Piston on November 29.
Why is this an important cause for you?
I’d like to shed more light on mental health through music and film. Awareness is vital and I think the world is now open and ready for dialogue. I think the next step is learning how to identify signs of mental health struggle in ourselves and others and to develop coping skills for ourselves and ways of supporting our loved ones.
I truly hope that my music and film help others with self-acceptance and healing.
Exclusive Premiere of “Cattle Call”
ARI will be premiering her short film at her release party November 14 at Dirty Laundry in Los Angeles, and in Toronto on November 29 at The Piston. There will be no cover at the release party, but donations for Jack.org will be accepted. A donation is required for the November 29 show. Follow ARI on Facebook and Instagram at @iamARImusic.