Mixed Mexican-Italian-American artist ARA just shared a defiant art pop video for “Tell You Why // Down,” off her newly announced EP The Desert, out August 14. The California-based musician, producer, priestess and poet explains: “‘Tell You Why’ is about standing up to the man, turning the whole table over, and staring into his eyes until he is still as stone. ‘Down’ is a lament for America fueled by my own helpless devotion and explosive rage. I wrote it one night when I was texting a friend who had recently relapsed on heroin and he suddenly stopped responding to me. This song came from that scary silence. That moment right before your heart breaks open.”
Once a student-athlete with interest from major labels, ARA ended up in the psych ward at San Francisco General and wandering the California desert, confronting as she describes “the cognitive dissonance as a mixed woman in America, the disassociated state that overcame me in the wake of rape and emotional abuse, the ancient, sacred, spiritual space that we all must enter and surrender to at the center of our Self.”
The process of making The Desert EP was the creative equivalent for ARA of wandering into the Mojave with very little water and no map. Having worked as a concert promoter and in tech, the artist eventually broke free and flew to New York, where spiritual crisis became personal empowerment. Inspired by everyone from Santigold and Kanye West to Buffy Saint-Marie and Courtney Love, the project is a mesmerizing combination of deadpan poetics and cascading vocal layers, infectious baselines, and melancholic guitars that chronicle her descent into madness and back again.