Aria Wunderland does brave, independent, and empowering better than anyone else. The alternative-pop singer-songwriter is constantly searching for a deeper meaning and delivering music that resonates with what she believes in. The artist’s latest release, “Risk It All”, is a call to all women to be courageous and assertive.
The music video only continues to emphasize her point of female empowerment. Void of any male love interest, Aria creates a safe space, complete with aesthetics from the 70s and 80s. I sat down with Aria upon the release of her music video to learn more about her powerful music and real-life inspirations.
Ariel Zedric: “Risk It All“ gives off a message of self-love and overall positive and empowering vibes. Tell me a little about the inspiration and your decision to write this song!
Aria Wunderland: Thanks! Yes, self-love and empowerment were definitely what I wanted to convey! This song was inspired by real life. It’s about a passionate late night with your favorite person and succumbing to all of your deepest desires. I’m very drawn to the theme of freedom and abandoning social norms. In this song I wanted to describe a night in which you let go of personal inhibitions, responsibility, morality, etc.; just risking it all. So essentially a song about taking risks.
Can you recall the moment you decided to write the track? Or was it more of a culmination of things?
I work closely with a very talented producer and artist named Ikenna FuNkEn. We were working on another song on this day, and he suggested we take a break. All of a sudden he started cooking up another idea using synths and drums. It was so good and this song started taking life. Just like the song we kind of abandoned all rules and what we’d set out to work on during that session and just allowed this song to come to life.
This is a very sensual and sexy music video. Walk me through the filming process! What was your favorite part?
I had a lot of fun filming this video. I am an independent artist so the budget was small, and we had to get really creative with the ideas and space. I definitely think my favorite part was filming the silhouette scene with the big screen in the background. It was filmed by the very talented J. Frost and this scene was one of his brilliant impromptu ideas.
What parts of your upbringing and culture do you pull from for inspiration? How so?
There is definitely a lot that I pulled from my upbringing. My mom was a big inspiration. Her style in the 1990s, but mostly all of her photos from the 1970s and early 1980s. My mom’s style was always very glamorous and I wanted that vintage glam aesthetic to be the center of the video. The rabbit love interest also pulls from my upbringing. I was always into fantasy. A big fan of Alice in Wonderland…in fact, this even inspired my name. I had to incorporate that element of fantasy and surrealism that was very present in my childhood.
Some of your music is also inspired by current social justice issues, like “Coup D’état”! How do you balance your activist agenda and your music career?
I’m very sensitive to how I express my social and political views as I’m aware I have fans from all different walks of life with varying perspectives. I definitely don’t want anyone’s views to feel diminished. However, as my following grows I do feel a responsibility to use my platform to speak and invoke change. I don’t do it often. With “Coup D’état,” it was 2016 and I felt particularly frustrated and the need to express myself through my art. I got a lot of support from young fans who were sharing the same sentiment.
Have you ever doubted your decision to pursue music? If so, what inspired you to keep going?
Yes! Many times and still do every now and then. It’s part of being an artist. You tend to have a tumultuous relationship with your art. It’s a very vulnerable lifestyle and in my case, I don’t do it for the money. I sacrifice a lot to commit to what I do, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’ve actually tried to give it up in the past and couldn’t. I always like to say music chose me not the opposite way around.
Explain any personal and professional struggles you’ve encountered in the music industry thus far. How have they molded you?
I think my biggest personal struggle was committing to my music career without fear or a plan b. I was never one of those kids that dreamt of being rich and famous. I fell in love with music and later realized I found enjoyment in creating it and sharing it. When it came to figuring out my career I was very scared and spent a lot of my energy resisting my calling. Going to college, getting different full-time jobs, and always setting myself up in case I “failed.” I eventually realized I was going to do this my entire life and it took me a long time to get over that hurdle and just trust my journey.
What’s it like being a female in the music industry? Have you encountered any obstacles related to your gender? How have you dealt with them?
Yes, I have. I actually contributed to an article on this exact topic published by an online magazine called PopDust. I’ve definitely felt these issues have become less prevalent in light of the #metoo movement. However, in the beginning, I’d run into challenges of not being taken seriously. Meeting prominent male producers and getting excited to come by the studio but then getting there and realizing I wasn’t actually being invited to work and that they had other expectations. It was hard and made me wary of relationships I was forming. Eventually, I learned to hone my intuition and got better at determining who was professional and who wasn’t. It’s hard in this industry as it’s already very informal.
What artist have you been listening to on repeat lately?
I love what H.E.R. is doing. Also recently discovered Elohim, I’m really into her, and Joji.
Are you working on any other exciting, forthcoming projects that you want fans to know about?
Yes, I am actually finishing up my EP finally and am figuring out my live show. Trying to do something unique that I’ve never done before and step outside the classic 4 piece band I usually play with.
Do you have any advice for young aspiring artists?
Yes, I pretty much always give the same advice. I recently spoke at a UCLA panel and basically told the students to wholeheartedly follow their dreams. I think sometimes our minds get clouded with outside noise. Our desires become guided by what our parents want for us or what society has deemed appropriate. At the end of the day, we all have a calling and allowing external factors to inform our decisions just creates a diversion. Either we never end up pursuing our dreams or we waste time and ultimately decide to pursue what we always wanted anyway. Follow your gut, even if it scares you and remember it will come with its set of challenges but it’ll be so worth it.
Feature image courtesy of Aria Wunderland