Nicole Ariana's ombré ambition took her away from us to that repository of dreams, Toronto. But as that plaque in my grandma's foyer says: "home is where the heart is." Returning home for a chance to participate in Gordie Sampson's Songcamp, Ariana will perform Saturday at Big Pony with hometown pals Samm Splash and Matty Boh.
Ariana is taking a break from her new industry-focused life in Toronto, where she first moved courtesy of a mentorship grant from Nova Scotia Film and Creative Industries.
She worked at the Feldman Agenc,y "doing everything from creating artist one-sheets in Photoshop to attending live shows and taking offers for shows and turning them into official contracts," she says, so it's safe to say Ariana knows her way around a stage plot. Her second job offer brought her to Rock Paper Management, working with electronic producers "I am just soaking in every little bit of the industry," says Ariana. "I now have this knowledge to put into my own releases and to help out those around me from our east coast scene who I love and want to help promote."
Ariana's goals are clear: "My end goal is to be able to be a recording artist and songwriter full-time," she says. To that end, she's been working steadily. Releasing remixes and singles at a good pace on her Soundcloud account, and working on an upcoming mixtape. Ariana explains that her musical taste runs the gamut of sugary pop to gloomy and atmospheric.
"I've been pretty into writing sad raps lately, because, well, I'm an emotional girl, but I'm also writing very pop, R&B, hip-hop songs over super future-y [sounding] productions I find on Soundcloud, so I'm trying to figure out how to release the content I'm sitting on without confusing people---but we're all happy/sad people, right?"
A lead single is on the way, to be followed with a smaller release and yet more singles. "I've learned that dropping a large project now---in my genre--- is kind of a thing of the past," she says. "Singles and small EPs are really where it's at for emerging talent."
However, the flood of inspiration that came from Songcamp brought with it a bunch of new originals and some collaborative pieces with her fellow campers.
"I really wanted to go and improve my songwriting, learn about co-writing because I normally write alone. I wrote my first song at 10 years old for LeAnn Rimes---did I send it to her? No," she jokes. "But I've been writing and creating forever, and although I release music under one sort of urban umbrella, I enjoy singing and listening to multiple genres, so it felt like the perfect place to do that.
"I left yesterday and I've just been in a text thread with Laura Roy, Molly Thomason, Dana Beeler, Mo Kenney and Barb Cameron, basically crying over how much we all miss camp. It's something we all look forward to all year. It's like camp when you're a kid except everyone is extremely talented, crazy and driven. It's a great bonding experience."
The collaborations were a big change for Ariana, who normally writes over beats she finds that inspire her and freestyles lyrics from that point.
"I catch a cool vibe or feeling from a song and think 'this could be about love, sex, weed, partying, sadness,'" she says. "That's probably why my songs are so personal and sometimes have pretty out there lyrics, because it really just pours out and then I get attached. I'm a pretty heart-on-my-sleeve type of girl, so I just go for it and hope people will like it."
Nicole Ariana w/Samm Splash, Matty Boh
Saturday, July 26 at 9pm, $5
Big Pony, 1453 Brenton Street