Meet Aruna: a longstanding vocalist, DJ and producer behind a decade-deep body of melodic trance anthems including collaborations with hefty luminaries such as Armin van Buuren. But late last year Aruna embarked on a new chapter in her musical journey… Drum & bass.
Like a mind-blowing plot twist at the end of a film that no one saw coming, she’s leapt from the euphoric heights of trance into the deep murky pools of drum & bass… And fair play to her. Not only is she breaking any perceived genre barriers, but she’s questioning its stereotypes, too.
Being highly known as a vocalist, Aruna has calculatedly used a male vocalist for her track to reverse those gender bias roles we all know are rampant in the drum and bass scene.
I mean, no one wants to admit it aloud, but when you see a track with a female’s name and male’s name. Who do we assume sings it, and who do we assume made it? ….I know I’m guilty.
The track itself is soulful, poignant and achieves the feels that every good liquid song should. It goes deeper, though… Aruna’s track helps to battle preconceived assumptions about women in music. She not only artistically transitions from two wholly dissimilar genres, and but also firmly crushes the stereotypical roles women in music are placed in today. From trance to drum & bass, singer to producer, Aruna has a story to share…
It’s fair to say that most drum & bass veterans aren’t familiar with you like people in the trance world are, tell us about yourself!
I started in trance about almost 10 years ago now. I was mostly a singer, then moved into DJing, then moving into production. However it seems so far that this release is getting much better reception, for me as producer on anything I did in trance, it’s really exciting!
Trance… to drum & bass. How did that happen?!
I woke up one day, I had this song in my head that was really loud as if I was listening to it on the radio. It was really strong and it was fast. And I was like, this is not trance. I don’t know what this is but this sounds like it needs to be drum & bass.
174 bpm.. that’s a whole different ball game
When I started producing it, it was around 150bpm and it was sounding okay but a little bit draggy, and I was like ‘yeah this has to go a little bit faster’. I ended up taking it to 165bpm, and truth be told I had never made a drum and bass tune in my life.
Has D&B ever been your cup of tea?
I listened to some. I love working out to Drum&BassArena podcasts. Being on the treadmill is like a rocket up the ass. I then discovered Etherwood who I absolutely fell in love with, so it was kind of that background reference music in my head. At a certain point I realised this song I had written was so strong, I need to bring this and show the world. Drum and bass or not.
How do you feel about having to essentially build a fan base all over again?
I’m not too worried about it to be honest. I think a lot of my trance fans are going to come with me. It’s not trance but it’s still me. It doesn’t matter what genre I do, I think that people will feel that and respond to it. Not all of them will as a lot of the trance crowd can be snotty about anything outside trance. But I’m not worried, I’m excited.
Your name is on the track, but it must come as a shock to your fans not to hear your vocals..
I didn’t want to confuse people, because I knew as soon as they see my name they are going to think that I’m the singer. I really wanted to keep the focus on the production that I did. And not create any confusion as to who is doing what.
To be honest with you I’m kind of tickled and amused about the fact that it’s a guy singer and girl producer. It’s a total flip of the stereotype.
Do you feel that people assume gender roles in electronic music?
Oh god absolutely. And to be fair although there are stereo types, there really aren’t many female producers. And there’s a lot of women singers. So naturally when you see a woman’s name you think, oh a singer. So you can’t completely fault that. I do think it runs a little deeper than that, and one of the things that is really driving me towards production is I want to see more women out there. So this is a passionate social cause of me, as it leaves to put a dent in this stereotype.
How do you feel about delving into what is known as a very male dominated genre then?
Trance is also pretty male dominated, I think pretty much all EDM is male dominated.
Do you think drum & bass needs a woman’s touch?
The drum and bass that I have just brought out with this song and many songs to come in the future, is not going to be this hyper, aggressive, nasty, gnarly type of drum and bass. It’s going to be more like the sound guys like Etherwood have expressed, but through the eyes of a female. There’s something just so soaring and gorgeous and hopeful about his music.
So I guess what I want to do is bring a woman’s sensibility and a woman’s softness and love to the genre. I feel like drum and bass kind of needs this. It needs softening a little bit. I know people love the hardness about it.
I get the sense Ready To Go is much more than just a song…
Definitely. It sort of gives this sub conscious permission and empowerment for other women to feel like they have a voice and they can do it too. The more women doing it, the less prevalent assumptions are going to be. As women we are so in tune with ourselves and in tune with our emotions, we process life so differently from men, and I feel like especially in the world in a state of chaos right now, especially here in the States, God the world needs feminine energy now.