In the middle of August, Ari Voxx and her band the Sad Lads released their first album, “I’m Okay, Please Stop Asking.” Ari is a natural storyteller. Her album follows several narratives from her past that put her in melancholy moods. Her ability to be unapologetic is shown in her lyrics and monologues. She is unafraid to experiment with genres like Pop, Rock, and Electronica. This album is only the beginning of her story.
Last week, I was able to call and interview Ari. We chatted about how writing music can be therapeutic, the inspiration behind the album’s title, musical influences, and her next project.
Katherine Chung: What was your inspiration for the album? When did you start writing it? I noticed that you have a ton of recent singles and EPs. Why release it now?
Ari Voxx: Well, albums take a lot of time and money. I previously did not have enough money and was not in a place to utilize it before this year. Oh, and it’s also kind of like a long-form album. Finding the right songs that all go together, are cohesive, and can survive on an album is tough. So creatively, you kind of go back and forth with that, unless you are sitting down and writing the album top to bottom. Unless it’s a concept album which is something I plan on doing in the future. That is kind of a whole other level of creation. But yeah, the songs from this album I wrote like 3-5 years ago, and only now have I decided which other ones I go with and this is the time to unleash them. Yeah, I think it was time to put out something big, beautiful, and serious that I am proud of and put myself and my band on the map.
KC: One thing that stood out to me was the title, “I’m Not Okay, Please Stop Asking”. It is kind of like a dialogue or a monologue introduction. How did you come up with the title?
AV: I kind of went along with one theme with one of the songs that I have written. A lot of my songs are self-exploratory. I kind of used music as a sort of therapy for myself. I find myself having a dialogue with myself, and that comes out with the last EP that I released. It’s called “Letters to Myself”, and it is about self-identity, nostalgia, and letting go. So those kinds of heavy topics are something I like to explore a lot. I think it really helps me personally get through these kinds of issues by essentially talking about them with other people, but I am not good at talking with people so I make songs. I wanted it to be ear-catching and eye-grabbing. “I’m Not Okay, Please Stop Asking” is a joke, like the setup. The last line of the album is the punchline, “I’m Not Ok”, which is kind of dark.
KC: I heard upbeat indie and pop sounds throughout the album. What kinds of musical influences did you have besides your previous work?
AV: It’s all over the place. The album’s sound is inspired by a lot of 80s and 90s synthpop, dream pop, and new wave. Bands like The Cure, Cocteau Twins, The Sundays, and The Smiths. A bunch of other artists too. That is why I love more ambient abstract, sparkly, and dreamy music. But I think that I bring a pop sensibility, to be honest. I also collaborate with my band. We’re genrebending, to make it our own. I think that I found the term that I like better which is genre-uniting.
KC: When I looked at the tracklist, your songs went from happy, to moody, to sad, to depressing. Was that intentional?
AV: Yes, it was! I am very glad that you noticed that. I was trying to tap out a bit of story in my lore with my musical persona. I have described this album as descending to darkness or madness. It is all leading up to the next project that I am already planning.
KC: Is the next album a secret?
AV: Haha, no, it’s not a secret. The next album is called, “Creature from the Pink Lagoon”. It’s going to be more horror-themed. I am a big fan of the classic horror movies.
KC: That’s cool. I’m excited to hear more music from you.
AV: Yeah, this album is like the origin story for the villain or monster. And then the next album will be The Monster with full power.
KC: Following along with my first question, are you talking to someone directly in the songs or talking to yourself in the songs?
AV: The thing is that it switches back and forth. I like to write my lyrics in a way that addresses the listener. I feel like it draws people into the story for the content and allows them to relate on a personal level. Even within one song, I took it from monologing to dialoguing. But there is one breakup song, “Sunshine and Rainbows.” The rest of the album is about myself, I guess. It is a little narcissistic or whatever, but I use writing as therapy. It’s like I am my own therapist.
KC: Lastly, what do you have planned for the rest of the year? You mentioned possibly playing at a festival and finishing up your first tour.
AV: Well, the next step for me and my band, the Sad Lads, is to keep pushing, promoting, and sharing this album with everyone. We actually have a vinyl release situation for it. It is like a crowdfunding pre-ordering situation. If you pre-order the album then it comes pressed. I’m also playing a few festivals next summer with the band. I am just working on more projects. We have a Halloween show at DC9 that is all solidified. I am also looking forward to continuing to write and share more of my story.
I’m Okay, Stop Asking is available now on major streaming platforms like YouTube, Spotify, and Apple Music.
Katherine Chung is a blogger, avid reader, and disability advocate. When she is not writing, Katherine enjoys reading spending her time at bookstores, making bracelets to pass out at concerts, and taking walks.
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Flow-bending artist aSanTIS discusses art, culture, and whether sound can solve the world’s problems in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month.
My interview with Amy Santis aka aSanTIS began in the most unexpected way. The Maryland-based flow-bending artist and lyrical storyteller came prepared to engage in conversation around questions I had posed – and she also brought one or two of her own thoughtful prompts based on her curiosities around my view of learning.
This practice of taking in her surroundings deeply through observation and inquiry has come naturally to aSanTIS ever since she was a young child. In terms of her early starts in music, she notes that she began as a discerning listener. “Just listening to music from my mom, on the radio, just being a consumer in the world of sound. But I think mainly, my mom has always loved dancing and listening to music, so that was sort of like second nature. We play music at gatherings, we play music in the car, and these songs are sort of like diaries that take us into a specific place.”