Interview with Arya
SPR (VIMH): Hi guys, congrats on your new album For Ever! What is the significance of naming an album For Ever?
Arya: The original idea for the album title was Survivor Syndrome, which is refers to the horrible time me and Simone had to live through after the collapse of what has been the most stable and close-knit line-up of the band. When we started working on these songs, we literally didn’t know if we were the only ones left in the band, who would have provided vocals for them, and we also had many reasons to be angry at each other.
I found the words “For Ever” on a beautiful 1923 silent film called Coeur Fidèle, by Jean Epstein: you can read them many times written on walls and other objects. I found them much more evocative, simple and less bombastic; Virginia, who sang lead vocals on the album, also liked this idea more, so in the end we went for it. Survivor Syndrome became simply the title of a track.
SPR (VIMH): What do the lyrics talk about? Which are your major lyrics’ influences?
Arya: This album is deeply autobiographical and personal. Days after the release of our previous album Endesires, due to some really bad episodes whose ultimate responsibility can’t really be attributed to anyone of us, the band suddenly collapsed with arguing, backstabs, social media blocking and reciprocal accusations between people that used to be best and really intimate friends. Being really introvert people, unable to openly discuss what was going on, made our relationships explode as soon as someone else knowingly tried to put us one against each other to pursue his plans, fully succeeding in the end. I may never see some of these people again in my life.
I was left by all these events in a terrible situation, I spent two years taking various antidepressants that in the end made me feel even worse and, as I meanwhile also graduated, I had really no idea on what to do with my life. Simone’s situation wasn’t that different, and this album has been an attempt to forgive each other and make some music again despite what had happened, as we realized we actually enjoyed it.
The lyrics are about my thoughts and feelings about what was happening in my life and mind. I really got into Joni Mitchell while composing this album, and I was really inspired by her open, honest and essential songs. I really like when you manage to put in words what’s happening inside your mind without any judgement, interference or self-censorship, no matter how delusional it is. Nonetheless I took many hints from various literary and cinema works, in some lyrics but also for song titles. Ironically, our previous album Endesires had followed pretty much the same path.
SPR (VIMH): Which are those elements that separate your new album from your previous albums?
Arya: This is by far the heaviest, darkest record we’ve ever made, but also the most experimental and difficult to listen, except for a few more catchy songs. It was composed during a really painful moment in our lives and, as for our previous album, we really made music about ourselves and what we were feeling. It’s dissonant, unpleasant and full of flaws, but I don’t think it could have sounded differently without being insincere. We did everything completely for ourselves, without caring about the strangers who would have listened to it at all, and this is something I’d like to change for our future music. I’d really like to compose some music for others to enjoy for once.
SPR (VIMH): How would you characterize “For Ever” and what are your expectations from the new album?
Arya: For Ever is not a record that could launch our band into mainstream fame, I would say it’s quite the opposite, it’s something dedicated just to a few selected people. If we forced a random person on the street to listen to it, he or she would probably think it’s some kind of incoherent noise, especially during a few songs. We’ve always had a catchy side in our songwriting: this time it has been much more neglected because the nature, history and themes of the album required it to be as it is, but I kind of miss it, especially if I think about future live concerts.
You can probably understand we weren’t having fun at all while composing and recording those songs just by listening to them, but in a sense we felt like if that music was creating itself thanks to us, and we just had to follow it wherever it went. After all we were feeling really bad back then, and not only psychologically in my case.
SPR (VIMH): How has releasing independently worked for you, and how much has it helped you on the whole?
Arya: We’ve released this album independently, as we’ve always done since the beginning. We’re a band that’s totally free to do whatever we want musically, we even record ourselves. This means we can experiment as much as we want with our music and release records whenever we can. I’ve always liked to think of records in the same way a musician from the Sixties would have done.
Nowdays you’re expected to put out albums where every single song is supposed to be potentially a single and a hit: that way you only end up composing music inside the safety area that your project and your genre have set for you. I’m proud to say that not all the songs on For Ever are potential hits, we tried many totally new things for us on most tracks: some are clearly only enjoyable by a few dedicated people in selected contexts, but you don’t have to feel obliged to listen to them all the time, you can just skip to the ones you prefer for some reason, we’ve already released a lot of music you can explore and choose your favourite parts from!
SPR (VIMH): How’s the fans’ reactions been to the new songs on your live shows so far?
Arya: We’ve performed Flares live a few times, and people seemed to really have enjoyed it. It’s the most catchy and structurally simple song on the album, and it’s really fun to play. Other than that, however, we thought we would have never performed any other song live: it was music composed and performed just by two members, without thinking about who would have had to nail it, and not everyone in the band was ok with learning them. However, now that the band line-up has changed again, we might reconsider that decision.
SPR (VIMH): Do you prefer to be on the road or on the studio writing and recording?
Arya: It really depends: we usually spend much more time writing than touring: you can write and also record music even on your own in a different city from everyone else. Touring is all about living interesting experiences together: I think I like both, if we can alternate them often.
SPR (VIMH): How did you come up with the name Arya initially?
Arya: When we first formed and were looking for a name, we struggled quite a bit to find a simple and effective one that hadn’t been taken by others and wouldn’t be associated with a specific genre of music. I was studying for an Indian philosophy university exam at the time, and I came across the word Arya, which is an adjective that means “noble”, or “aristocratic” in Sanskrit. As it seemed like there were no bands with the same name, the other members at the time accepted it.
Only later on I found out that there used to be a band somewhere in Russia with the same name; however, way more famous is the character with the same name from Game Of Thrones: not being confused with her on search engines is the main reason why we quickly added “Italy” on most of our social media profiles.
SPR (VIMH): How would you describe your music style to someone that hasn’t heard of you before?
Arya: We’re a band that has always taken a quite experimental approach to songwriting, often contaminating many different genres, in order to create music that can give emotions to the listener. One could say we’re mainly a progressive metal band, but we’re definitely not what you could expect if you think about the stereotypes of that genre. During the years we’ve taken inspiration from other styles of heavy music such as black, sludge and post-metal, but also indie and alternative rock, and quite a lot of jazz.
So far, most reviewers have said that we sound unique and unlike any other band, but that’s not always a good thing, as it makes fans of most genres feel equally lost and out of place, especially now that we live in the age of playlisting and strict genre divisions and criteria to match.
SPR (VIMH): Which do you consider to be the best male & female vocalist in metal history?
Arya: That’s a tough question! Right now I can think of Devin Townsend, who’s also a true genius and a big inspiration, and Courtney LaPlante from Spiritbox and Iwrestledabearonce.
SPR (VIMH): Which is the record you wish you had written and why?
Arya: It has absolutely nothing to do with metal, but I’d say Five Leaves Left by Nick Drake, I have no words to describe such beauty and talent.
SPR (VIMH): Were you obliged to give just one album to extraterrestrials that would represent the whole human music, which album would it be and from which band/artist?
Arya: It’s technically not an album, but I think the Art Of The Fugue by J. S. Bach would at least make the extraterrestrial aware of the best capabilities of the human race.
SPR (VIMH): If you had the chance to travel in time… where would you choose to go? To the past or the future and why?
Arya: Besides my list of moments where I’d like to tell the me from the past to choose to do or not to do specific things, I’d probably choose to attend Woodstock Festival in 1969. It’s probably the ultimate dream of any lover of rock music.