2017 has undoubtedly become a time of unease; this uncertainty has become exemplified due to the recent international attention in human inequality, ultimately impairing the progression of humanity to a distressing effect.
Now more than ever is the time for citizens of the world to take pride and embrace their cultural heritage; by embodying their identity whole-heartedly it will ultimately help to raise awareness for emancipation. As London fashion designer Alice Temperley eloquently said: “You have to stay true to your heritage; that’s what your brand is about”.
Immersed in a completely different form of art to Alice Temperley, New Zealand songstress Aaradhna Jayantilal Patel (better known by her artist name Aaradhna) proclaims her enriched cultural heritage with complete advocacy. As she explains from her home in Wellington, being brought up with Samoan, New Zealand and Indian backgrounds throughout her life helped shape her as a musician for which she upholds with genuine affection.
“Both my culture, my blood line have played a big part in my craft. If it wasn’t for my father playing his Indian music around the house as well as taking myself and my siblings along to watch him perform at Diwali festivals and other big celebrations while growing up, plus my mother singing her own Samoan hymns, gospel and country music every hour of the day at home and encouraging me to write my own songs at a young age; I don’t know what I would be doing today.” She admits proudly. – “I grew up in a loud musical household with good traditional food that was always remixed with a fusion of both Samoan and Indian; we heard broken English with a bit of my parents native language throughout our lives, so our upbringing was traditional but not so traditional – if that makes sense? Everything was always fused, mixed and improvised.”
Aardhana’s fourth studio album Brown Girl released last year gives further testament to her dignified inheritance. Comprehending the fragile state in which cultural diversity is viewed at by particular (sadly) influential individuals; Ms. Patel found necessity in speaking her mind through her remarkable soulful R&B pop formula to expose her side of the story. Although this was vastly revealing, in retrospect Aardhana embellishes that the writing and recording experience was really a healing process.
“I think you hit it on the nail with the songs being therapeutical. I get very personal with my songs because I need a place to vent and I like to do it through music. It gives me a piece of mind and yes I feel empowered when I say how I feel.”
She continues – “To be honest with you I don’t see the point in singing a song that I can’t truly express myself 100%; there has to be a connection. I have to say that I had a bad day, that I’m a fool sometimes, that I love hard, that I mess up or someone closes to me messes up etcetera. When it comes to music I want to be sincere and not hide anything. Everyone has their own stories and expresses it in different forms. I like to express mine through my songs.”
With the record being out for over six months now, how have the songs resonated with you? Especially after performing them live?
“Every time I finish a project you can bet that I will most definitely be nervous and a little scared because it’s that uncertainty of how the listener will take it. I put my whole heart into this project; I get to talk about my personal experiences in life which is therapy for me.” She confesses – “After performing these songs live many times I can see that it does the same for others, it’s therapy for others and that’s what gives me my drive, it lets me know that I’m doing something right and that I’m not just singing for me I’m singing for them. So when I sing these songs now I come into it knowing I’m not alone.”
This aforementioned statement expresses a unity which is so vital to the delicate state of affairs that haunts the globe of late; a prime example is the single taken from the LP also entitled Brown Girl. Lyrically Aaradhna exquisitely discloses her hardships and experiences throughout her life which in turn would have also plagued literally millions of people, regardless of their heritage. This angelic serenade majestically brings hope to the listener whilst also hypnotising them with Aaradhna’s powerful voice; honestly (and brilliantly) it breaks down barriers of judgement and stereotyping simply by mutual understanding. It plagued this writer to ask however, whether lyrically this track was written in reflection of a particular instance or experiences that she may have undergone, or was it just a reflection of the state of the world today in its unrest about deplorable racist actions?
“I think what you have described is perfect.” She acknowledges – “It is definitely a tough subject to speak freely about because you do not want to be perceived as making a mistake with your claim or belief. But I believe there are still good people in this world and it may not be today or may not be tomorrow but I believe in time equality will always overcome the unfairness in this life. If we learn to come together in unity we will give power to a change for the better.”
Friday night at the Clipsal 500 in Adelaide will fortunately feature Aardhna joining the Hilltop Hoods and other royalty of Australian hip-hop for a debut concert experience at the race. What should Adelaide expect from this charming songstress and how well does she know the beloved local heroes Hilltops?
“Well I know there will be around 200,000 people at the event so I will definitely be bringing my ‘A’ game, no wait my ‘HEART’ game! I’ll just be bringing my whole soul to the stage and try to be as real as I can be and that’s all I can do. I’ve got a three- piece band coming with me and it’s going to be a hell of a live show! My goal is to always leave the listener with something to remember, a feeling they can connect with as long as I make them feel some type of way.”
She further details – “I love them brothers the Hilltop Hoods. The collaboration we did was organised through their label and mine. As soon as I met them and got to working it felt like working with long-time friends, I really enjoyed their company and musicianship. They were real cool down to earth dudes which made working with them easy breezy.”
Aaradhna will play Friday Night’s Clipsal concert with the Hilltop Hoods and Seth Sentry.