On-the-rise Gold Coast talent Arisa is a name you’ll be no doubt hearing a lot more of over the coming months. The soulful young singer-songwriter with the exotic Filipino/Thai background combines a jaw dropping voice with pop/RnB smarts while lyrically portraying the emotions and struggles of a young woman navigating the challenges of modern-day life. Her debut release, ‘Crashes’, was released in March and has already amassed over 110 000 streams on Spotify. While recent number, ‘Not Here’, has also attained similar success in a short space of time, with more new music on the way.
We recently reached out to Arisa to discover her musical background, what she’s been working on and how she likes to keep herself occupied outside of music. Take it away Arisa…
You’ve released two singles so far this year – how did they come together?
I’m a fairly efficient songwriter so those singles came out quite quickly. They were just stored in the bank til I decided to share them this year. I’ve been writing for the past six years – I discovered that it was my best outlet for emotions and feelings. At face value I can be very outgoing and bubbly, however when serious situations arise I tend to be a very closed off person. Writing those songs really helped me express how I was feeling. ‘Crashes’ was a song about being able to believe and be happy with yourself without having to please everyone, the independence to do things without second guessing. ‘Not here’ was a really heavy song to write, it spilled out of me so fast in the course of an hour. I know it doesn’t musically sound like a very emotional song as it’s masked by an RnB melody, but it helped me cope with the loss of loved ones.
Are you currently working on any other new material?
I have been writing a lot lately and getting advice on the musicality of things from my good friend/brother and producer Troy from Sunnyside Sound. We recorded a bunch of songs that are ready for release, but wanted to try dropping them single by single. My next single, released in late October, is called ‘Taking A Toll’. It has a slightly different direction than just RnB, as I wanted to bring in a reggae feel, as I grew up with UB40 as well as many others. As someone who has been performing for years, singing other artist’s music, my style can vary and my music really shows that none of my songs can be classified as just one sound or style.
Is music something that has always resonated with you?
Music is something that has always been a constant in my life. If I’ve ever had any dilemma, music was my best friend, there are literally songs about every possible situation or feeling.
As a result of music being in my life I was taken under the wing of Vocal Adrenaline Performing Arts in 2016 and have been teaching singing ever since, to give back to others what I love so dearly. I teach privates and group lessons when I get the time in Gold Coast Dance studios, as I decided to step back and focus on my career.
How long have you been performing music under your own name?
My dad gave me my name and it means a lot to me. I have been performing since I was eight years old so it’s been thirteen years now, professionally I have used it since 2013. I’ve always loved the idea of having my own identity as it gives me confidence, knowing I have to perform to the best of my ability because that’s my name, I have nothing to hide behind. People always ask why I don’t use my full name and I want to be clear that it’s not because I’m ashamed. It’s more to do with the fact that no one has ever correctly pronounced my surname, ‘Atanyakul’, first try and I am so proud of it, as it celebrates my Thai background. I also through that if I stuck with Arisa I could avoid being judged upfront and people could be curious on their own without presumptions.
Are there any other artists or musicians on the Gold Coast who particularly resonate or who you associate with?
I was taught by Jamie Lee Wilson who is a Gold Coast singer as well and she is a stunning performer and person, she is always striving for more with her music and deserves more recognition. I was also taught at Vocal Adrenaline Performing Arts and that is where I’ve met many other amazing performers such as, India Dupriez (who also had an article with Blank), Maddierae, Shaylee Gear and Emmagen Rain (the voice contest 2020). I’ve known all of them since they were little and watching them grow with their music is so insane. My friend Amy Dowdle and her brother Josh from the Lastlings are also making their mark having performed at Coachella last year. As well as my good friend Logan Skinner who’s been doing so well with his music as a relative newcomer.
Outside of music what else inspires you or keeps you preoccupied?
Due to my Thai and Filipino background I have a love for food. I am always in the kitchen either baking or cooking – it’s funny, because when I cook I do it by taste. So when someone tries to ask me what the recipe is I have no clue. My parents taught me to constantly taste the food and make it so that you’ll like it and so that’s what I do! I just put a little bit of this or that and don’t keep track.
This year I started training with Xtreme Fitness and have realised that I actually like fitness. It definitely has something to do with my trainer Gemma, who really keeps me motivated and excited to come back twice or three times a week. Growing up I’ve always been overweight, not fitting ‘normal’ sizes and have tried so many diets and fitness programs. It’s so strange when you don’t fit into either category for weight classes you just never feel comfortable, being a constant yo-yo, never being completely happy with my body due to dysmorphia. I’ve finally found a medium and can happily say I enjoy the exercise and want to be able to share my journey with others. I also have a love for science and have been studying pharmacology and toxicology at Griffith University, although I originally wanted to do forensic chemistry due to my obsession with all shows about criminology, the science behind it and law enforcement.
Any big plans on the radar for 2021, musically speaking?
For 2021 I’m just hoping that the COVID restrictions clear up so I can start performing again, which is where I really thrive. I really miss doing large scale performances with my backup dancers on stage, as we like to put on a show with fun choreography and aesthetically pleasing visuals. I also want to continue releasing music next year and hopefully something catches people’s attention, as my overall goal is to one day headline my own tour and perform in stadiums locally and worldwide.
To get a taste of Arisa’s soulful sounds, head on over to her Soundcloud page.