Growing up in the secluded yet majestic city of Perth, Australia it’s time you said hello to one of Perth’s most exciting upcoming female talents, Aortah.
The Yemeni, Indonesian artist translates a world of human experience through her carefully penned lyrical and melodic creativity.
Beginning as a trained classical pianist, her music has continually evolved to capture RnB, soul and neo-jazz listeners, as she fuses her Middle Eastern heritage with influences of Christina Aguilera, Amy Winehouse and Lauryn Hill.
Take a peek at ya gal’s extended chat with the one and only, Aortah.
Hello, how’s it all going?
Hello! I’m going really at the moment. I’m writing my first mixtape which I’m really excited about. This project means a lot to me as it reflects my roots, my upbringing and my very mixed culture as an Arab/Indonesia/Australian! I’m also working on it with some incredibly talented musicians, who also happen to be my friends, so it’s a really special body of work.
I also just graduated with a Bachelor of Neuroscience earlier this year, so I’ve had plenty of time to focus on music while working part time as a personal trainer. It’s been busy but music is my passion, so I always somehow have time for it as it gives me relief, joy and peace.
So to kick things off – tell us about how your passion for music began?
My passion for music began at a really early age and was heavily influenced by my parents. My father loved to sing and always played a lot of Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra and Harry Belafonte, including traditional Arabic and Indonesian music.
We had a piano at home and my mum was doing lessons when I was about three, my parents put me into classical piano lessons when I turned four. Honestly, I didn’t really enjoy it as I had a very strict very teacher, but I’m grateful for the aural and theoretical foundation that classical piano lessons gave me.
However, singing has always been my main passion, I remember singing along to my dad’s songs and playing his CD’s to find artists I like. My first love for singing began when my cousin showed me a tape of Maroon 5’s song, ‘She Will Be Loved’. I will never forget how this song just made me want to sing, I even got up at a wedding when I was four to sing it with the band!
Who did you listen to when growing up?
Initially I listened to a lot of classical, like Ray Charles and Louis Armstrong. But as a I grew up, I started listening to more contemporary music, wiht my favourites being Christina Aguilera, Sting and an Arabic singer known as Amr Diab. I also listened to a lot of classical music for my piano lessons.
We love your tune, ‘Unfaithful’ – tell us how the tune came about?
The tune was actually written from the perspective of a close friend who had recently been cheated on. Thankfully, I’ve never experienced it but I know a lot of people have, so I really wanted to put myself in the shoes of someone experiencing that and write music, as it helps me to somehow experience it too and expand myself.
You recently collaborated with Adrian Dzvuke for ‘OYA’, what was it like working with Adrian?
Adrian is such a lad. He’s a great friend and it was so effortless to write with him, it almost came naturally. I wrote the chorus and my verse, sent it to him and he just came over and we wrote the rest of the tune together in my living room with my mum frying us some delicious Indonesian goodies. It was chill, almost like we weren’t working at all!
Tell us a bit about the meaning behind the tune?
‘OYA’ means ‘let’s go’ in Nigerian. I don’t speak Nigerian, but this is what the beat was called, so I did some research and found out that’s what it meant. I wanted to write a song about partying and having fun in the club with your friends but also maybe meeting that cute someone and wanting them to make a move, getting to know them and have fun.
What’s the biggest thing you’ve learnt as an upcoming musician?
To be patient. I’ve learnt it’s important to give yourself the time and creative space to make music that authentic, unique and of social significance. It can be easy to get roped into the whole feeling of needing to release content all the time to stay relevant, but quality it way more important than quantity for me.
I’ve also learnt that the journey of meeting all the incredible musicians who are also passionate about the art we are making is more rewarding than the outcome of the project itself. With technology its been some easy to network and create with musicians all over the world and despite quarantine, I’ve made some lifelong musician friends that I’m so grateful for.
I’ve learnt overall that if you start with an idea, it’s like a seed that you have to nurture, water and grow. It takes time and my visions for music are the ‘seed’ for me. At the moment, I’m just growing my garden.
Any exciting plans for the future you can reveal?
Yesssssss, of course!! I’m writing my first project at the moment. I’ve got a few music videos coming out real soon and I’m planning an Australia wide tour within the next two years.
I also want to work on a community project specifically integrating music therapy into communities to help with learning disabilities and age-related illnesses, but I’m still yet to discuss this with the local community.
For those who haven’t heard your sound before, how would you describe your music?
If Christina Aguilera and Lauryn Hill had a baby and that baby had a baby with Amy Winehouse and Stings baby 🙂
What do you hope listeners will take away when listening to your music?
I hope they can relate to it and it gives them comfort. I hope they take away a message that makes them feel less along and empowers them. I also hope they feel good when listening and can vibe out to it in the care with friends, windows down and all.
Finally, who would you love to collaborate with in the future and why?
I would love to collaborate with Elyanna. She’s an upcoming Palestinian artist from the states who incorporates Arabic with an Rnb/Dancehall touch. I really, really love her music so would love to make a song with her. Also, Kehlani because well she’s Kehlani, ‘Baelani’ is the guac to my life.
Don’t you dare leave this article without downloading Aortah’s latest tune with Adrian Dzvuke, ‘OYA’ HERE.