Interviewed by Jasmine Uitermark-Thaung
Ariela Jacobs first broke into the Melbourne music industry after her independent release of 2014 EP, This. Producing music that not only invites you into her thoughts but also her heart, Jacobs will have you captivated with her clever metaphors and gorgeous melodies.
So Ariela, tell us a little about yourself and your music!
Hello! I’m a singer-songwriter from Melbourne Australia, just trying to share my stories with others. I guess life gave me music as my main mode of expression and I feel pretty lucky to have that as my creative outlet. I’m somewhat traditional in my approach; my body craves folk music and yet I also instinctively write pop songs and piano ballads. I can’t seem to get away from it.
We first heard of your track The Sound a few years back when you had just made your debut. 2016 seems to be bringing even more excitement with your new EP Yesteryear. How has your sound changed since your first release to now?
There has definitely been an evident shift in my sound since releasing my first EP This. I was a little younger back then and my heart really lay with pure acoustic music. In saying that, I was still in the stages of developing my craft and I guess I always will be. I worked on Yesteryear with producer and multi-instrumentalist Jono Steer which really opened me up creatively; I’d also spent a good chunk of time between the last release to now, delving into personal narratives which were perhaps a little more vague, a little more haunting but still followed the pop formula which I love. Jono really allowed me to experiment with more abstract ideas and raw sounds to conjure up musical imagery. For instance, when listening to the instrumentals of the tracks on their own, one can hear that each sound, layer upon layer, has its respective place and personal meaning.
What fuels you creatively?
I could answer this question in so many ways and probably write a thesis on it. But, I shall keep it short and sweet. Authenticity fuels me creatively; when I’m not being completely true to myself, I tend to get writer’s block. Authenticity and love; Cliche? perhaps, but what can I do?
Now your latest video clip for Lost, the second tune in your new EP depicts a very personal struggle for you after coming out to your family and ascribing to an integration of two minorities; being queer and Jewish. Depicted very loosely in the video, there’s a very raw emotion that’s translated through the stunning visuals. How did you come up with the video concept?
Myself, along with Bonita Carzino, the director of Lost, were fortunate in that we were conceptually in-sync. Although we both knew that a few of the scenes came across with some ambiguity, I think it allowed for universal interpretation. However, from a personal perspective, the song and video identify a two way street. Firstly, it depicts the anxieties of a toxic relationship, being reminded of your love wherever you may be. Yet on the other hand, it is also caring about what others may think of you. This is something that I personally struggled with up until the time I ‘came out.’
In the clip, we see the protagonist searching for her love in a dream-scape reality, and although she eventually finds her significant other, she never turns around to look at her. I guess we wanted to portray the vulnerability that comes with wanting to be with someone but at the same time, not being able to come to terms with personal issues of sexuality and identity.
I find it really inspiring that you’ve decided to use your music to publicly discuss an issue you’ve struggled with, do you find there are points where you’ve written a song that is just too personal to record for a wider audience?
I’ve always written honestly, otherwise I think I would be creatively blocked. I always write for myself, but I guess there always is an element of fear when you are exposed through your art. Over the years, as I’ve come to terms with my sexuality and acceptance of self, I’ve just kinda said, screw it! I think we all deserve the freedom to live authentic, creative lives, otherwise we are barely living. I write from quite a vulnerable space and I think when artists do that, we need an audience that is willing to be open to the narrative of the other. Interestingly enough, I wrote Lost when I was 18, when I was really struggling with all of this. It took me a good 5 years to release it with an honest narrative and be happy about saying, hey, this is what I’ve learnt, and this is who I am.
What do you hope people take from your EP, Yesteryear?
I really hope that people find solace in Yesteryear’s lyrics. I believe that music is a shared experience and nobody stands alone. Both artist and listener are witness to each other, and knowing that both may share a similar story, fuels me to keep on doing what I do.