"I have an affinity towards artists that have a bit of grit. Been busted up a little bit. Who aren't afraid to be loud and different."
Sydney-based and Eritrean artist Arig recently dropped her vibrant and powerful new single, titled His Nation.
Accompanied by an equally spirited music video directed by filmmaker Cleo Baldwin, the track is a bouncing and hypnotic celebration of self-love in a world that often discourages it. It marks a new sonic era for Arig, with the song set to be part of her forthcoming as-yet-unannounced new EP.
Produced by Harry Fox, known for his work with Carmouflage Rose, Midas.Gold, and GALLVS, His Nation is a celebration of women stepping into their own power and sexuality — a high-energy banger with crisp, thumping production that features playful and tongue-in-cheek lyrics, paired with Star Trek references and ad-libs.
The collaborative process between ARIG and Fox was — she says — open and experimental, resulting in a tumbling bassline that adds to the infectious energy of the track.
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Born in Khartoum, Sudan to Eritrean parents who fled the country, the muso’s personal experiences have greatly influenced her artistry, with the rapper taking raw inspiration from a diverse range of artists, including Jeff Buckley, Tupac, Lady Gaga, and Alicia Keys, combining elements of traditional Eritrean, South Sudanese, and Arabic music with her own soulful and bluesy style.
In celebration of her latest bop His Nation, we found out what you need to know about the rising R&B star.
Tell us a bit about the inspo behind your latest single His Nation and how that came about?
I just wanted to feel good, feel powerful, strong and sexy and just stay in that feeling!
You know, there is so much external influence that goes on in this world and in our own individual lives that sends us the message that we aren't meant to feel "good", better yet great, or confident in our skin, talents and abilities.
I wanted to capture that moment, share it and keep it permeating.
We love the music video that takes place in the auto shop. Cna you tell us a bit about the creative concept behind the clip?
I worked with a talented, young, female director, Cleo Baldwin on this video and I am sure we could talk endlessly about this concept, but in essence, the video dives into the persistent influence of adverse external pressures that attempt to move us away from our genuine selves and purpose.
It's an unveiling and embracing of the hidden layers of anger and defiance that occur as instinctive responses to various forms of adversity. I just did it with a 28-inch lace front wig, some long-ass nails while dancing on top of a shit box with steel balls hanging off the rearview mirror.
If your music was a flavour, what would it taste like?
Double-shot espresso, with honey.
Who are some of your biggest musical influences and how have they impacted your own sound and style?
I have an affinity towards artists that have a bit of grit. Been busted up a little bit. Who aren't afraid to be loud and different.
The fight or bark in artists like Tupac, Lady Gaga, Trent Reznor, Kendrick Lamar, J Cole - all these artists really resonated with me. I believe that more than the music, it's their perception of life and the styles in which they chose to portray that.
What’s been the biggest moment in your career so far?
Every moment is great if you let it be. I still have lots and lots of work to do. So, let's revisit this question soon...
What's the most unusual or unexpected source of inspiration you've drawn from when writing a song?
Haha, inspiration is such a fickle, fleeting notion if you are actively looking for it. I find that it's better to be ready for it.
If I am primed then it just comes! It can be anything, from something funny a friend says, to the sound of a car driving past. Or in the case of His Nation the muscle car line was prompted by a massive framed vintage muscle car poster in the studio.
Can you share a hilarious or cringe-worthy moment from your early days as an artist?
Back when I didn’t even have one of my songs on a hard drive yet, there was some big Aussie celebrity event thing and there was an after-party.
Anyway, I managed to find my way inside by telling the security that my ‘management’ definitely reserved my place LOOOOOL! I mingled, but nothing came out of it - besides my face in the paper with Katie Noonan.
I think everyone was like ‘‘who the hell is this chick?!” But hey. The things you do.
What Australian artists would you love to collaborate with in future?
What’s something that fans might not know about you?
I have hyper-flexible fingers and I can blow spit bubbles off my tongue. Weird right?
If you could only listen to one album for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?
That's such a difficult question. But I would have to say J Cole's Born Sinner album. The first time I went back home to Eritrea I didn't load all my music.
So I ended up only having Born Sinner on my iPod, along with a couple of Aretha Franklin tracks. I listened to those songs on repeat while I was travelling through the villages, so it holds nostalgic qualities for me.
What's in the works for you in 2023/2024?
More music. More shows. More transparency. I want to go harder so I can continue to grow our little global community.