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Arum Rae at WERS

In Studio :: 09.14.17
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Singer-songwriter Arum Rae stopped by our studio and sat down with 88.9’s Alex Waters to talk about her new record, the parallels between songs and clothes, and how nobody can get her name right the first try. 

ALEX WATERS: So, should we take a moment and maybe talk about your new record a little bit?

ARUM RAE:  Yes, we should!

ALEX: So it’s called Sub Rosa, which I’m in the understanding is sort of a Latin phrase, that while it literally means “under a rose,” it kind of means more of a behind-the-scenes sort of thing, right? Or behind closed doors. What was the inspiration behind the title of the record?

ARUM: Well, the record is a stripped-down album, and I haven’t done anything ever on acoustic, let alone nylon-string guitar {before this one}. And it was to play the songs for the sake of the song, with very minimal production and to me, that’s very intimate and behind-the-scenes. The things that don’t get covered up are revealed here. 

ALEX: Right, so that embodies the spirit of it perhaps?

ARUM: Yeah.

ALEX: So I know you’ve worked with a lot pretty cool songwriters and producers, and you’ve had your songs on TV and stuff like that in the past. So why then, for this record, I know you recorded about half of it at home. Why did you strip it down so much?

ARUM: I was doing these tours with Rodriguez, “Sugarman” Rodriguez, he’s one of my favorites, top-5 songwriters ever, and for the first part of the tour, I was selling these produced albums that were still minimal but still produced. And I didn’t feel like it was what I was connecting with, initially, the people I was meeting every night. And I knew that I had these other tours coming up and I just felt like it was something for my fans that I haven’t actually given them fully before. So that’s why I just got a craving to do something raw like that.

ALEX: Sure, just trying something new, right? Experimenting with a new sound and seeing what you could get from it, I guess?

ARUM: Not so much an experiment, I think I’m pretty raw in general, but I think once you go into the studio you can lose some of that, working with different people. I wanted to do this and keep anything out of the way, warts and all, you know?

ALEX: Yeah, I totally get it. So you mentioned that some of the songs are in a past-present-future setup. So how do you determine, when you’re writing a song, whether or not it’ll be one of those past, present, or future songs? Obviously, a lot of singer-songwriters focus on the past. Where do you draw your inspiration for the other two?

ARUM: In the sense of releasing them?

ALEX: Yeah, sure.

ARUM: I think that they kind of determine themselves. And if you put them on a collection, it’s maybe what you feel most compliment each other. I think of everything in the sense of clothes, so if it’s a good “outfit.” {Laughs} And just put that with music, then I think that’s how. I just try to let them determine themselves.

ALEX: Okay, so the songs figure themselves out. They “get dressed” themselves, perhaps?

ARUM: Yeah, yeah!

ALEX: That’s pretty cool. So you’re going on tour in the fall. What is your favorite part of touring, especially now that you have the more acoustic sound?

ARUM: This fall I’m going to do both acoustic and electric. And my favorite part is performing.

ALEX: Just performing? Just playing the chords, just singing?

ARUM: {Laughs} Yeah! Singing, connecting with people, that’s my favorite part.

ALEX: Just telling the stories. That’s awesome. The last thing I was just kind of curious about on a personal level. So, your name, Arum Rae, obviously a very pretty name unto itself and it happens to mean “water lily,” right?

ARUM: Mhm.

ALEX: So how many people have gotten that name wrong or not understood where it comes from while you’re out on tour?

ARUM: {Laughs} Well, it’s usually Erin is what I get called. Sometimes I let that fly but not so much. But yeah, it’s usually like this is the order that it goes in when I meet somebody: “Hi, Arum. Arum. A-R-U-M. My mom named me that when I was a little girl. It’s Latin for ‘water lily.’” That’s usually the order that happens every time.

ALEX: Right, and you named your new record in Latin as well. So is Latin something that keeps coming up in your life as an inspiration or does it just happen?

ARUM: It just happens. I think a lot of the language is really stunning. And for some reason, like with Sub Rosa, it took me a really long time to find a title. It’s just kind of something that happens.

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