We had the good fortune of connecting with Arlana and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Arlana, what’s something about your industry that outsiders are probably unaware of?
The music industry is very multi-faceted. I think most people think that singers/ artists only have to look pretty and sound good, but there’s a lot more to being a well-rounded artist than people think. Everything from copyrights and work for hire contracts to scheduling recording time and the writing/ producing/ mixing process can take years to even begin to understand and navigate effectively. Being an independent artist especially can be difficult because you often find yourself having to cover all of these bases with little to know assistance. All listeners see are your finished products (music videos, singles/ albums, press etc) but they usually have no idea just how much it takes to make those finished products materialize.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I started writing songs when I was 9-years-old. It started as poetry, and then I began hearing musical ideas in my head. I had a small tape recorder that I would record my songs on, and I’d write in composition notebooks constantly whenever I was inspired. I’ve been enamored with all types music ever since. I love using different genres as points of reference when I’m creating new projects. I like so many different genres, and I don’t like to limit myself to one archetype, so there are elements of Jazz, Hip Hop, Soul, Rock, and Gospel in quite a few of my songs. Pursuing music has definitely been a challenge, specifically because I am an independent artist (no label) so I do most everything alone. But music is my passion, and the accomplishment I feel when I get to release a new project or perform live is so worth the struggle. I feel like I’m fulfilling some sort of cosmic duty when I make music. I just released my first album called “SONGBIRD: UNE” that was 2 years in the making, and seeing it finally finished and hearing people’s reactions gives me confirmation that I’m doing what I was made to do.
I’m learning that in order to reach people, I have to be consistent and dogged with my approach. I’m also learning to ask for help when I need it, which is hard because I’m used to doing things on my own and I don’t like asking for help.
I want people to see me and hear my music and feel understood. I’ve always wanted to hear music that related to me, and a lot of the music I hear today, I honestly cannot relate and it’s a bit isolating. I want people to hear me and say “Wow I feel the exact same way” as they sing along to my music. I want to create music that inspires/ encourages people, AND makes them dance and groove. Impact is just important as sales and streams; I don’t think I should have to neglect one to achieve the other.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I live in Nashville, so it’s kind of like having a big city and a small southern town all in one. There are a lot of outdoor activities to engage in. I love walking/ hiking in Natchez Trace or the Greenway Trails (they literally stretch all throughout Nashville along the Cumberland River). We can also canoe on Harpeth River.
The Frist Center and the Nashville Museum of African-American Music are also cool places to visit if you enjoy different art mediums.
HoneyTree Meadery, pH, and Gray & Dudley are a few places I love going with friends for drinks. HoneyTree is an in-house meadery and they make a variety of different flavored mead drinks, and sometimes host local artists and food vendors on weekends. pH is a black-owned bar with amazing craft cocktails and light eats. Super chill vibe with rally great music. Gray & Dudley bar/ restaurant is located in the 21C Hotel downtown, which also features a ton of local artwork throughout the building. We could grab a drink and then walk around and take in some local photography, artwork, and sculpture work.
There are a ton of restaurants in Nashville, but a couple of my favorites are Five Points Pizza (NY style pizza), Margot Cafe (small cafe with locally grown ingredients), Barcelona Wine Bar (tapas and Spanish wine!), and The Pepper Pot (Jamaican food, take-out only but still so good).
Nashville has a really rich music scene, so I’d probably check out a local show at Exit/ In, one of my favorite small music venues in town. There is literally always some sort of live music, from The Basement East to any number of downtown bars on Broadway.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My family has been a real source of encouragement for me over the years. I’ve had a lot of friends pursue music and their families always ask why they don’t pursue a career that will make them more money, but I’ve never had to hear that from anyone in my family. They have always rallied around me and supported me. Specifically, my dad has encouraged my gift by making sure I have equipment and software to continue to create, and he and my older brother always give me feedback on how to hone my craft more, which I really appreciate.