Interview with ARCTISKY: Exploring Love, Sound Evolution, and Musical Heritage

This week, ARCTISKY sat down with A&R Factory to discuss his latest single, “Unreal Love,” a narrative about the complexity of chemical romance and the importance of self-awareness in relationships. In this interview, ARCTISKY delves into his creative process, the instrumental choices that evoke euphoria, and the evolution of his music since his debut. He also shares insights into his journey from the Maldives to Melbourne, the influences behind his genre-fluid sound, and his ultimate artistic goals.

ARCTISKY, welcome to A&R Factory! Thanks for sitting down with us to discuss your latest single, Unreal Love. What does the single, which narrates a tale of chemical romance, mean to you personally?

Thank you for having me! ‘Unreal Love’ happens to be a confusing tale about an intense romance being ignited while two people find love in a super-charged ‘situationship’. The message is like, “Make sure you both know there could be other factors driving the whole interaction.” It’s about being aware of yourself and taking time away from other influences before wasting anyone’s time.

How did you manage to capture the euphoria of love in the instrumentals and production? 

This track is one of those tracks that stayed in the cocoon stage until I was ready skill-wise to bring it up to speed. Ever since my last release, I really took the time to come up with a sound that truly captures all of my core musical influences. With this one, I believe the live upright piano sounds did the final bit of work in bringing this song to the finish line. Initially, I had a very thin-sounding piano sound, which was fine when I was just writing other instrumentation around it, but it still didn’t give that fuller feel I was looking for. So, later on, I decided to record an upright piano with a pair of AKG c414s, with the help of a couple of my peers. That was the final ingredient to this sound I’d say.

I had written the synth parts years ago, in the early stages of the song, so those spacey-arpeggiator sounds at the back were another factor in capturing that euphoric feeling. I tried to stay true to the sounds that evoked euphoria in me as well. It’s still got that core element of rock & roll, but then those influences from other areas weave through. So this song evolved through quite a few stages to achieve the sounds I was after. I’d say it also had a lot to do with being surrounded by the right people who helped nurture my craft.

How do you want your fans to feel when they hear the single and what do you want them to take away from the lyrics? 

Well, the song is kind of like an unspoken conversation between you and that person you found some sort of crazy love with in the heat of a moment. It doesn’t have to be anyone specific either. It’s just one of those tracks that will help people come to terms with the fact that it’s better to let go by connecting to a song, rather than trying to reach out to an old flame. Never a good idea!

It’s been a while since you made your debut with Losing My Control in 2022; how has the break influenced your music? 

I think I realised I had a bit of work to do to bring my writing to something I was happy with. So, for me, it was more about going back to the sounds that felt most natural to me. That’s actually the main reason why I named this album ‘Roots Vol. 1’ – due to it paying homage to my musical heritage, being the classic rock & roll I grew up with. Unreal Love is the first track from this album and showcases this new sound I’ve been working with the best.

All the songs that will be on this album are what I call “journal songs” – they’re songs that hold more to the lyrical content, and have something listeners can take away and project onto their own experiences. It’s nothing more than a bit of art you may or may not be able to relate to. This stuff is written for the introverted side of people. I know I’ve heard those songs, where I listened to it and the music just helped me come to terms with things I had no idea was bugging me in the first place. Music does such a good job of healing people. I wanted to write some music that could help my audience shed light on some of the things they may be dealing with.

This new sound, with the foundation of rock & roll and the blend of fresh sub-genres, is what I got out of my creative break. This project just feels very fun for me! I’m not taking myself too seriously I’d say. I put a lot of trust into giving this another go, knowing I’m writing and releasing music that I loved writing and enjoy listening to.

You gained a fair amount of notoriety in the Maldives, has establishing yourself in Melbourne been a daunting experience?

I’ve been very lucky to learn and work with some extremely cool people since moving to Melbourne in 2019. I got here and realised I had neglected a lot of important theory, growing up as a drummer, so I had a lot to catch up on. I wanted to make sure I understood music to a certain level before trying to enter the live scene here. I’ve certainly had a bit of work to do to polish my craft before starting live gigs. Melbourne’s already got such a vibrant live music scene, so I want to make sure that what I’m bringing to the table here is going to be something a bit different and adds value. I needed to know that if I were to do live gigs, there were no loose ends in the songs. I want my live performances to bring a high level of energy to the venues here, and I needed time to develop my live-act. Live gigs are something I’ve really had to physically and mentally prepare myself for.

How did your genre-fluid sonic signature come about? 

I grew up with brothers who loved rock music, so it was playing around the house most of the time as a kid. I always heard a lot of Bob Dylan, Santana, Bon Jovi, Bob Marley and all that. Then I discovered Pink Floyd around the age of 18. They have the kind of music that helps you open doors in the back of your mind. Around the time I started this project, I was listening to a lot of Bob Dylan and the ‘Exodus’ record by Bob Marley & the Wailers. They inspired me to get my own messages of love, peace and freedom out with my music – to the individual and to societies. Especially ever since the wars have become a lot more frequent on the news, I wanted to get my message out with these songs. It turned out that when I was writing these “journal songs”, I always wrote music that I felt reflected love, peace and togetherness – “Lead with love and respect,” being the core message. It’s come with trying to strike that chord which resonates with our innate instinct to come together, and to work together and learn from each other.

What is your ultimate goal as an artist? 

My ultimate goal as an artist is to bring my work and artistry to a stage where I can start collaborating with more artists, and to just keep writing and recording music I’m proud of. I want to have songs that my audience can listen to and connect deeply to. I feel like a lot of what I’m hoping to get out of this ‘Roots Vol. 1’ record is to find a true audience that I can take on a new musical journey away from my current sonic blend. Music is such a subjective experience just like any art form. I feel like creating the best art you can do with your abilities and putting it out there is necessary if you have a message that’s greater than what you want to achieve sound-wise. I feel like I’ve been fiddling around with this sound for a while now, but I’m happy knowing this blend was authentic to who I was throughout the writing and recording process. My goal is to story-tell and share some of my crazy experiences with my listeners so that they too can feel and experience those moments. I feel like all my music will have that unique element of ‘me’ in it.

My message is to stay true to yourself no matter what kind of inner demons you may be battling. If you’re still in the thick of that period of your life, I hope some of these tracks I’m putting out can lend a hand.

Listen to Unreal Love now on SoundCloud; find more ways to connect with ARCTISKY via his official website.

Interview by Amelia Vandergast

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