Fractals To Infinity by Giant Monsters on the Horizon (feat. Arden and the Wolves) – Part 2/2

GMOTH’s collab with Arden & the Wolves yielded admirable results. So much so, I felt compelled to contact Arden Leigh and get her side of the story…

– Who are your influences and what did you take away from those artists?

That’s a terrific question. I have ADHD that’s been exacerbated by the way our culture fosters a brief attention span, so lately I find myself constantly seeking and finding new sources of inspiration. I finally embraced that as a singer I feel called to express myself in a large number of genres, that if I’m not challenging myself in some way I’m bored, and that it’s okay for me to feel like whatever I want to make in the moment is the opposite of the last thing I just made.

That said, I’d say my traditional influences are Paramore, Panic at the Disco, The Pretty Reckless, Pat Benatar, Blue October, Imogen Heap, Poe, WALK THE MOON, and 30 Seconds to Mars.

And I’d say my newer influences are HANA, AURORA, The Midnight, Starcadian, Poppy, Ghostemane, Aesthetic Perfection, MisterWives, Auri, and Thomas Bergersen. 

For this track in particular, I mostly listened to the singer Veela for inspiration. I wasn’t accustomed to writing to the style of track Vinnie sent me, but I welcomed the challenge and sought to find a way that I could use a repetitive melody that would merge with, and not compete with, the intensity of the track. I found that many of Veela’s melodies were written in that style, and that felt like permission to try it myself.

– Do you draw inspiration from sources outside of music, per se?

All the time. I don’t ever want to write a lyric that’s only inspired by something someone else said, you know? For me, the impetus of a song, whether it’s one that I self-generate or one I’m asked to write/sing on, is that I have to feel that what I’m saying is important. When I’m asked to do a guest vocal like on this track, I have to find something that is important enough for me to write about. If the subject and lyric doesn’t feel important to me, the song will feel flat and unfinished until I sit with it and figure out what it’s trying to say.

I’d say my main job as a vocalist/songwriter is to tune into the narrative and build out its world. That’s not always inherent to the music itself but I’m not sure it can really be separated. Also, I’m a synaesthetic, so I tend to have colorful sensory associations as it is. 

– Please describe a typical day in the studio. What is the chemistry like?

Is it cheeky of me if I say it depends whose studio it is? In seriousness, I don’t have a home studio so I work with an engineer for my vocals, and nine times out of ten it’s Pete Mills of the band The Sweet Kill. We have amazing creative chemistry in the studio. Even more than chemistry, we have comfort, and for me, the safety of a regulated nervous system, knowing you’re safe to share ideas without judgment or criticism, is the most important foundation for creativity. You have to be able to say your weird ideas and have someone make the effort to grok them and help you bring them to life. Pete really understands me and supports my vision, and he will always share his feelings and ideas but also always supports me having final creative say since it’s my name on the work. It’s a wonderful creative relationship full of lots of mutual respect and fun. 

Because Vinnie and I live far apart, we actually haven’t met in person yet and haven’t been in the studio together. But Vinnie makes long distance collaboration easy. He’s so supportive of my ideas and for this track we both allowed each other complete creative freedom – Vinnie let me track pretty much whatever vocals I wanted, and then I shipped them to him and let him do whatever he wanted with them. Honestly it’s really great when you have two artists who trust the quality of each other’s work enough that you’re both like, you know what, whatever we come up with will be great.

– What’s next for you? How are you forming/adapting your plans in the age of COVID?

To be completely honest, it really kinda felt like my musical career “began” with the release of my EP Who Can You Trust in 2018. Before that, I released songs but I was treating my band like a vanity project because of past traumas and worthiness issues. WCYT definitely changed that for me. 

But by the time I was able to find aligned producers and get back in the studio to work on the next album, which will be my first full-length, it was already mid-2020. So to be honest, I haven’t so much had to do much adapting as learning on the fly this whole time. If anything it was an advantage for me when the pandemic hit, because all of a sudden there were all these musicians who couldn’t tour and were looking for production work to keep busy in the meantime, and I needed producers. 

I will also add that even besides Covid, I think it’s safe to say that music right now is an ever-shifting landscape with no reliable model, and that everyone is being invited into more adaptability. The old ways are dying and a new sustainable way hasn’t been established yet, which I think is plain to see from how much arguing there is over the way things are currently happening. It’s intimidating but it’s also exciting. I regret to admit that I will probably have to learn about blockchain if I want to start being a part of the solution, which I do. But I anticipate this to be a 5-10 year scope, and I still have a lot of learning to do in that regard. It’s a lot of data to eat and process. 

But if I could solve my mental health issues in the scope of two years, especially when that felt impossible throughout the rest of my life, and if I could create The Re-Patterning Project out of that journey and help dozens of others to do the same, then I think I can be helpful in solving this too. And at that point, who am I not to at least try, right?

– What is your take on the current state of the dark music “scene”?

Is there a scene? I have really been trying to overcome feelings of being an outsider, with historically mixed results that I’m happy to report are steadily getting better. But I’m not sure I feel like I’m part of a scene. Maybe that’s a limiting belief on my part. I will say I really appreciate the way Ken is a positive force in creating community. In fact I found Vinnie through the Sounds and Shadows group, so in that way I owe this very song to him and to everyone involved! 

But I think the same lowered barriers to entry that make music so accessible these days has also meant that it is very spread out and difficult to feel like there’s any one homogenous scene, and instead that there’s pockets of communities here and there. My modus operandi is simply to be the best version of myself that I can be and operate in integrity so that I can align with people who do the same, gravitate toward and nourish the people in my immediate circles who feel like the best fit, where everything feels easy and fun and inspiring, and then keep repeating that. Into infinity, so to speak.

When you can do that, and when you start connecting with the artists around you and forming mutually positive creative friendships with them, maybe it doesn’t matter whether there’s a scene or whether you belong to it.

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