At just 18 years old, Perth-based, Zimbabwean-born artist Arno Faraji is bringing a revigorating new sound to Aussie hip-hop. Honey electro beats meet smooth rhymes to create an addictive flow that we just can’t get enough of. Arno recently won Unearthed High in 2017, has been supporting a range of international hip-hop acts and just has been signed to Astral People – is it without a doubt that the young artist has a bright future ahead of him. Check out his latest single Things Change, released yesterday!
Hey Arno, I’m Seymour calling from Subvrt Magazine, we’re basically a mag that looks into things such as fashion, racial issues, women representation, minorities and such – all the good stuff haha, so was just wanting to ask you a few questions if that’s cool?
Yeah, go on right ahead …
You fired it up at Sound on Festival in Perth on the 28th September, can you tell us a bit about what this festival entailed?
Basically, it was an underage festival that’s aimed at youth ages 14-18, with acts like Tkay Maizda and Alison Wonderland, aimed at helping to put a spotlight on creativity for the younger people who are coming up or just want to have a go with some entertainment.
Sounds good to me, in hearing that as someone who came up through an initiative aimed at youth talent yourself, do you believe that the Australian mindset focuses enough importance on artistic youth talent? Or do you think there’s room for improvement?
Yeah there’s room for improvement. I would say just like my Triple J come up – if others had the same come up chances, and had direct radio presence or whatever it was they were involved in like painting, dancing – they would be grateful for such a chance.
How do you think we can better their chances?
I think if we had more school projects – as they are a direct link to all different types of people. It’s good to get everyone involved, and most people have to go to school here in Australia, so the more we offer the more opportunities they have to take and be involved.
Yeah exactly, I know from personal experience that it can be hard to balance life and school. If we give everyone more opportunities to reach a level then they have more chances to step out of their box and collaborate.
How do you find yourself being inspired these days, are you a formulaic type or does it come in waves?
For me it comes in waves – I take vibes and I make something from them. I like to take moods – write on top of these, find like an umbrella mood. Also, energies play a big part for me. Other artists, visuals – I like to parallel what I see and turn that into a tune.
Definitely, I think we as artistic people all tend to draw inspiration from a place, but present it in our own unique ways so looking at other art forms can be a great way to develop our own.
We find these days also that artists, and I assume all types of people, are struggling with personal demons. Do you have any advice to the wider community on how to cultivate a personal confidence or find their voice – in listening to your tracks I feel as though you have managed to find yours?
Thanks for that man, I think what’s really important is to find a good support system. Find people who bounce back energy with you, it’ll make it easier. Also finding something you’re interested in – something that interests you a lot and focus on that. When you’re working on something that you genuinely like it can help take your mind off all the other stuff, so yeah I would say a good support system and finding something that you enjoy doing and doing it.
Yeah, I would say for a lot of people the best thing to do is be authentic, cause once you’re fine with you then people that are worth it won’t mind.
So as I was saying earlier about what type of publication we are I wanted to know as a hip-hop artist what do you think the relationship is like between the queer world and hip-hop, and is there a way to increase positivity between the two?
Definitely. I think that it starts with who is at the top, you know I think that as we start to become more open and our mindsets change – every song we make can change a perspective. Artists are responsible for that in ways. So as we write and make more music from a positive place that will come down through. Every time I make something I know I have a power in my message.
Yeah for sure, I think what artists are these days really are messengers of what’s happening in greater society, and since we put such an onus on media, what they can say is very powerful.
Now I know you’ve spoken about this before but you recently collaborated with Remi and Sensible J. What is it like meeting and collaborating with people you admire? I need some advice for when Beyonce and I hit that studio haha.
*laughs* Yeah, listen they were down to earth, when I got there they sat down and got to know me, we talked about what we liked and stuff. So when it came time to create we knew what each other liked and we had a space that was comfortable to create in. They made it very easy.
So from an experience like that, would you ever collaborate similarly with your fans?
Listen, I’m not gonna say yes right off – if it’s right it’s right. I’d have to like what they were doing and vice versa. It would come down to the chemistry.
Fair enough, I was reading reviews of your music online and one line I loved from a Triple J article was that your “raps crackle with intelligence and electrifying attitude,” and you yourself have described your music as “thicc beats”. Are these accurate descriptions to anyone who may not have yet heard your music?
*laughs* Yeah, I mean there’s new stuff coming forward, that was definitely one way to describe Destiny at the beginning, and I think with the new stuff coming up I think other people will find their own ways to identify the music.
I also noted while looking online that you had a twitter conversation regarding race representation on The Bachelor – I find everything haha – do you think that taking political viewpoints and expressing them helps or hinders artists, and is it better to speak out?
Depends on who you are – some people are just more political – it comes down to what type of artist you are. I am vocal, I find it helps me to reach people who are likeminded. I think you should be free to be as political or non-political as you want to be, for me I think it helps me with my message.
Lastly, as someone with their pulse on the finger of hip-hop, where would you like to see the genre go next?
It’s always changing – hip-hop is now very trappish, more electronic influence. There are so many sub-genres that connect and I’m attacking that idea myself through my music.
Look out for Arno Faraji playing at Fomo Festival in Perth in January and The Hills Are Alive in Victoria in March, and you can stream his music on Spotify, Youtube, whatever takes your fancy.
Artist: Arno Faraji @arnofaraji
Interview: Seymour @tancred