Meet ARADIA- an Electronic Pop Artist, Sci-fi Fashionista, and Bona-fide Trekkie
Long before she was creating her fresh and otherworldly but supremely infectious hybrid "roktronica" vibe, Seattle based singer/songwriter Aradia (www.aradiamusic.com) was a proud, self confessed "biggest nerd ever."
Growing up in and around New York City, she was a "mathlete." She joined Young Astronauts. Her personal reading list included Charles Dickens, Ray Bradbury and Greek and Roman mythology. She was a classically trained pianist who enrolled in the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College.
Perfectly in line with all that, she's a hard core, "Live long and prosper" Trekkie, gobbling up Captains Kirk (original series) and Picard (The Next Generation) and the '90s show Star Trek: Voyager. As a teenager she went to Star Trek conventions with thousands of Vulcan-eared kindred spirits, as well as the Renaissance Faire. Earlier in her adulthood, she wore her Star Trek uniform to work.
That didn't go over so well at her day job in Atlanta, where she and musical partner Wirth Lawson formed Twelfth Planet, a rock band that electrified the scene for a few years. That group opened for Muse and played for 100,000 attendees at the Chicago Auto Show.
But her emergence as a Sci-Fi fashionista was ultimately a perfect fit in Seattle, where she moved in the mid-2000s after the breakup of the band. Not that the adjustment or finding the great support system of friends she has now was easy.
Aradia's new EP Possibilities: Light includes six compelling tunes (plus a dance remix of the super-poppy '80s throwback "Today") that are the optimistic opposite of the dark and pensive tunes on her 2012 EP Possibilities: Dark.
That first project found her ruminating on some of her early experiences in Seattle - cultural and lifestyle adjustments as she wound her way through the Emerald City's eclectic social and dating scene. In those days, her life was like a sad country song: no money, no band, lousy job and a series of dead end relationships.
The title of one of it's tracks, "M Class Planet," is a phrase from Star Trek. The song itself, about people who have destroyed their home planet, was inspired by a Sci Fi series called The Coyote Trilogy by Allen Steele.
Possibilities: Light emerged from essentially the same period of composing but has a decidedly more fun-filled spirit about it - a reflection of the life she has now brimming with creativity, a strong social support system and great hope.
Both are perfect showcases for a unique sound that blends rock, pop, trip-hop and electronica that she has likened to an otherworldly mix of Donna Summer, Trent Reznor, David Bowie and George Harrison.
No doubt some of these influences derive from her growing up with a father who was a musician and music therapist and a mother who was a ballet dancer. While studying classical music from the age of eight, Aradia's childhood was full of everything from East Indian and Celtic music to jazz, Caribbean island music and South American rhythms. A few other possibly relevant tidbits: she began playing piano at age three and flute at age eight, and got into medieval music in college.
Not surprisingly considering her passion/insanity for all things scientific, Aradia compares the sequence of the two EPs to quantum physics. "It's kind of like the different paths that a person can take, the dark journey and the light one," she says. "Making the move to Seattle marked a big transition for me in terms of my self-development and confidence. I'm a pretty spontaneous writer and so the 'dark' songs came out first when I began taking stock of how things had changed in my life.
"The dark tunes are definitely more 'Bjorky'," Aradia adds. "They got a great reaction because they're still accessible and catchy. It's just the lyrical content that's haunting. The song 'The Light', sort of the title track of the new EP, is lighthearted, about celebrating life and taking advantage of the great opportunities given to you. At the end of the long songwriting process, I had a batch of tunes that were pensive and dark feeling, and others that were happier. So I thought it would be cool to put them out separately as two EPs as a reflection of two different sides of my musical personality."
Her multi-faceted music and dark/light sensibilities are just the foundation for the whole aesthetic of Aradia's artistry, which includes crafty costuming, a dynamically choreographed stage show and the occasional shock value moment in the tradition of Madonna and Lady Gaga. Her music and personality reflect an intriguing combination of whimsy and serious introspection. Her website includes some fascinating images to describe the depth and dichotomy of her overall artistic vision: Wood Nymph meets Sci-fi warrior. Superhero do-gooder meets space villainess. A roktronik sci-fi adventure of sense and sound.
Aradia's wild edges are tempered with a passion for metaphysics, spirituality and a deep love for animals. The owner of a husky-wolf hybrid named Khan (Star Trek reference!) and a Chihuahua-korgi mix named Sansa ("Game of Thrones"), she puts her money where her heart is by donating frequently to the Humane Society. She moved to Seattle in part because of its surrounding natural beauty and is very much involved in environmental causes and protecting nature from human destruction.
All of the above comes to light at the many shows she does around Seattle when she's not leading her other project, the popular rock band I Am Still Emporer. She's got a gig coming up July 19 at Barboza, and has performed (with a new band featuring a keyboardist who runs samples) at such popular venues as Nectar Lounge, The Rendezvous and an art gallery club called the McLeod Residence.
These shows are a feast for the eyes, as she creates costumes from her favorite films and TV shows like the 1980 version of "Flash Gordon," "Star Trek," "Game of Thrones" and the Tom Cruise film "Legend." "I also do a lot of dancing onstage, and because I have some Polynesian heritage, I do a lot with my hands like hula dancers do," she says. "Seattle is pretty notorious for people coming to gigs and just standing still the whole time even when the music is upbeat. So it literally brings me to tears of gratitude when people come to my shows and the music my performance inspires them to dance."
While Aradia vows that someday she will return to school to pursue her Master's and PhD in astronomy, she is feeling all the optimism of her new EP when it comes to her burgeoning music career.
"It's not that I choose to do it," she says, "I have to do it. There are times in my life when I tried to give up music but it was always there, urging me to get those songs out of my head and share them with the world. I believe there must be a reason for it, so I am happy to put it out there and hopefully touch people for the better with it. I think what I enjoy most is that when I'm making music, I'm getting a deeper understanding about myself and life. For me, the key to everything is to continuing to stay excited and curious."