Arietta on Drum n Bass, Building a Vision, and the Power in “No” [interview]

Arietta 01
Arietta | Photos by Brandon Mendez of 120db Photography

by Logan Lowrey-Rasmussen

While most of my relationships with artists are friendly at best, Candelaria Alvarado, AKA Arietta, has been a steady pillar of support and personal mentor in my journey in the world of music journalism*. With 15 years of classical/jazz training and work as a multi-instrumentalist, her passions have taken her to multiple creative avenues, be it in the form of an artist management collective, breakbeat duo, or a quick break to study electroacoustic art installation and ethnomusicology.

Since 2016, Arietta has reverted almost all of her attention back to her bread and butter: her successful tenure as a producer and DJ within the electronic sub-genre of Drum + Bass. I sat down with Arietta to discuss her recent set at Relentless Beat’s UK Thursdays in support of Dirtyphonics and Apashe, as well as her experience with growing her career in a male-dominated industry.

Logan: It’s great to finally chat and sit down with you again! So, what are some of your after-thoughts on your Thursday set?

Arietta: It was a blast. I kicked off my spring dates here and I couldn’t have asked for a better crowd. It’s always so great to come home and be surrounded by many of the friends and fans who have supported me since the beginning. I haven’t played live for a few months since I’ve been working diligently on new original tracks, so I had been itching to play! I had to fly out of Boston a day early (ahead of our last nor’easter storm) so I didn’t get as much time to rinse out tunes at home as I would have liked, so I just played a lot of my current favorites … and I think it turned out well!

How does it feel to be getting back to your main jam as a Drum + Bass artist full-time? Are there any changes coming to the Arietta name since your return to focus?

It’s been refreshing being able to focus completely on my artistic vision for the past two and a half years. No huge changes ahead, only building on who Arietta is all about. I’m really excited to share my debut EP that I’m currently putting the finishing touches on. As with any project I dive into, there’s a strong purpose behind it (think, digital conspiracies). I’ll share more soon.

Can you tell us some of the ways the Drum + Bass scene has changed since the electronic music boom? As a sub-genre, how does the D+B scene compare to some of the other electronic areas of music?

I don’t think it’s changed much here in the US. To me, there seemed to be much more of a DnB following back in 2004ish-2006ish. It’s still primarily kickin’ in London, so over here in the US a lot of the same listeners are holding down their local scenes – which aren’t at big commercial clubs. We’ve definitely gained some new followers to the sound from crossover artists in the past few years, but the community itself hasn’t changed. It’s always been a welcoming and safe place. Nights like RESPECT in LA and Elements in my new hometown of Boston are responsible for cultivating this ongoing sense of community across state borders here in the US. All of us DJ’s, producers, promoters, label owners, etc are friends on Facebook and support each other’s work – we all want the best for US DnB.

Your music has undoubtedly built bridges into the mainstream and encouraged fans from other sub-genres to get into Drum + Bass; do you have any predictions for the future of the sub-genre based on the current climate?

To be honest, we’ll just have to see what’s ahead. There is definitely a buzz around DnB in the mainstream – people raved about the DnB sets on Holy Ship! last year, and Zed’s Dead with Jauz released a track a few months back that their usual fans vibed with. I’ve heard a lot of, “I don’t usually listen to DnB, but…. this track/this artist/this set/ etc…” Right now, I’m just happy the genre is getting in of more ears stateside than ever before.

As a female artist in a male-dominated industry, can you tell us about any unique struggles or stories about your rise to prominence that your other male counterparts may not have encountered? Does the social culture in D+B differ from the other more mainstream genres?

Sure. When I was younger, there were other DJs and promoters in the past who wanted to “mix and chill;” but I usually saw through that shit immediately. I learned early on how to to put my foot down and demand respect. I needed to gain respect as an artist by my music and skill level, not exploiting the fact that I’m female; hell, I’ve even made a point to dress relatively conservative to gigs so that there are no physical distractions to even consider. People should focus on the music. As mentioned earlier, DnB community is super supportive – we all uplift each other! My male counterparts treat me with utmost respect and I feel super blessed to be surrounded by that.

What words of advice would you give to other female artists looking to enter the world of electronic music? What ways can a female artist protect themselves from being taken advantage of in this industry?

Learn the power in “No.” I cannot stress this enough. You need to know your worth and never compromise it, or what you’re all about. That’s how you gain respect. Stay true to you and only you – people will come and go, develop opinions, and that’s okay. Only you know what’s right for you and your vision. Believe in your sound and be confident, but don’t forget to put in the work so you can feel that way; ego can be an ugly thing. Never forget the people who get you to where you are. Give others a hand (guys and gals) every chance you get. Lastly, make your fans your friends – it’s always good to know an artist is as good a person as their music – we’re all all just people.

Arietta 02Tell us about some of your new music! Do you have anything exciting in store for the future?

YES! I mentioned it a bit earlier, but I’m putting the finishing touches on my debut EP. I’m really really excited to share it. On one track I’m working with The Maya Spectra’s vocalist (and on of my best friends,) Janel Blanco out of Las Vegas, NV. Her voice is magnificent and added a hauntingly beautiful element to one of the tracks.

Thank you so much for sitting down with me. It’s always a pleasure to see your career grow and take the genre into unexpected places. As an Arizona native, how do you think your homestate has influenced your artistic growth compared to other states you’ve traveled to?

AZ has been my biggest support. Artists like Momentum (Frequency from Robo-tech/MOZRT) and WeBang (WB x MB) are both AZ based producers who have given me a crazy amount of guidance in the past few years. The fans here really make me feel at home when I come play – one has even brought me a dope piece of artwork to a gig! I love connecting with them and seeing what they’ve been up to. The AZDNB group always provides me great feedback on music/mixes and someone from there usually saves the day when I need a last minute place to practice before a show! I’m blessed to have promoters in AZ like Collective Intelligence and Relentless Beats who believe in pushing my sound and give me opportunities to perform a few times a year. Lastly, AZ is where I met Brandon Mendez (120dbphotography), my boyfriend and the visual mastermind behind Arietta! He’s been absolutely vital in supporting our vision through visual content creation (photos, design, video, etc) for Arietta. I love my new home in Boston, but AZ will always have a special place in my heart.

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For more Arietta, visit her webpage, and stay tuned for her upcoming EP!

*For almost two years, I had the pleasure of working with Arietta in different areas of the electronic music industry.

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