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The New Locals: Arno Faraji

The Perth rapper talks sessions with Milan Ring, the Australian rap scene, and how clout is a “funny thing”.

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Each Arno Faraji song is different stylistically. Whether it’s the bounce of ‘130 Ego Jump’, reminiscent of the Nintendo Wii Shop music, the house-inspired ‘Bless (What It’s Like)’, or the old-school vibes of ‘Scalin’, the rapper is always exploring different facets of his artistry. In many ways, his diversity as an artist is a testament to his home city of Perth, a place that’s a true melting pot of styles, from the trap-inspired sounds of Figuero Jones, to the floor-shaking grime of Shadow. But to put it simply, Arno is just really damn good.

Starting off as a producer, Arno has been immersed in Australia’s growing hip-hop scene for a minute now. Teaching himself to use beat software, and pairing it with his guitar playing skills, he started to release tracks and eventually began rapping and singing on them himself. He’s since won the Triple J Unearthed HIGH competition, and recently supported Little Simz on her tour down under. In celebration of his new single ‘Sneakers’ and his Faraji SZN tour kicking off in Adelaide tonight, I hit Arno up via email to talk about his recording sessions with Acclaim favourite Milan Ring, the state of the Australian rap scene, and how clout is a “funny thing”.

Hey Arno! How did you first get into making music?
I’ve kinda always been into music. My Dad bought me my first guitar when I was nine. It was a nylon classical and looked nothing like the electric types I’d always geeked over on TV, but I eventually got really into it. [I] had a few trash lessons, then mostly taught myself how to play.

How do you think knowing the fundamentals of an instrument has affected your music writing process in rap?
I think it taught me a lot about discipline. If you want to be good at your instrument you’ve gotta put in the hours and you’ve gotta’ actually play. A lot of practice is necessary and it’s the same for this rap/production stuff in my opinion. To really grow and be your best you’ve gotta’ put your hours in, and you’ve gotta actually write/rap often. I try to keep that same energy. “$25 for a fade, but need to fix my studio” is a great line from ‘130 Ego Jump’. 

How’s it looking now? Give us a rundown.
It has upgraded a lot since I wrote that. [Laughs] “25 for a fade” is a double entendre. Sometimes you gotta’ sacrifice looking sharp or getting lit with the homies to invest in your passion.

You pose the question “How come no one was feeling me back when I wasn’t a rapper?” on ‘Destiny’s’. Could you run us through that line?
I have a lot of people in my life, some who I’ve known for a while, that only started reaching out or trying to be around me when I started doing this rap shit. Clout is a funny thing. Also I started out as a producer, and my tracks used to get a chill response, but when I started rapping on my beats I started seeing a lot more people pay attention. It’s cool in a way.

I feel like a lot of aspiring rappers place a lot of importance on the concept of being a rapper, and often change themselves to fit that mould, but you seem to stay true to yourself. How have you come to be comfortable with that?
It’s crazy you say that, because in reality I’m actually nervous about a lot of shit. [Laughs] But I believe if you start frontin’ early and keep it up, it’s gonna be harder for people to know when you’re being real. They’ll actually confuse the two and it’s just a headache after that. You attract what you give. If you push real waves out you’ll find people who fuck with that energy, and give it back to you instead of the opposite. 

You recently put out ‘Scalin’ produced by Milan Ring. Could you talk us through how that song came together?
Yeah, so little known fact, the day we made the track was actually our first time meeting. So before we really got into anything we got to know each other a little bit and talked influences, traded sounds, and got a feel for what we were both listening to at the time. Which led to me showing Milan this dope bassline from this track I had been bumping. Next thing I know, Milan is jamming and ends up creating her own dope bassline, almost in response to what I played. The bass inspired the whole thing, like a domino effect! Next up, Milan passed me her drum machine, I get to tappin’ on a beat, and that whole organic old-school vibe is set. The rest was easy after that.

You’ve also been heavy on the touring schedule lately. What has that been like?
I’m not gonna lie, it’s some work, but a whole lot of fun at the same time. It’s one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had, and I won’t stop anytime soon. Perth seems to have a growing scene, but we don’t seem to hear much about it. 

What’s it like coming up as an artist there? What makes it different?
Perth has few eyes on it attention wise, but it’s a mixing pot for a lot of sounds right now. We have a lot of trap rappers, grime artists, old-heads, R&B types, and guys like me who like experimenting with a lot of sounds. It’s cool because we’re building the hype around sounds that weren’t popping there before. A lot of people are feeling inspired and are coming out of nowhere. I feel we have to work a little harder to be heard, but in the end that’s more rewarding, and I’m proud to rep that side. Keep an eye on Perth, a couple legends gonna’ be coming out from there.

Who are some up-and-coming artists from Australia we should check out?
There are so many dope artists coming up right now. From my city there’s Mali Jo$e, Tonton6k, 1800 SHADOW, Malad6k, Luchii, Good Doogs, Yourgirlpho, Hypeclass, Figureo Jones, Black Napoleon, and so many more. Everywhere else we’ve got Phil Fresh, Stevan, Kymie, Raj Mahal, Yibby, DVNA, ELK, Jordan Dennis, Jesswar, Stevie Jean, Kwame, and Sophiegrophy. Shoutout to those guys one time, and big ups everybody else I didn’t mention doing it right now. We’re in a real exciting place with Australian music.

Lastly, what’s next for you?
I’ve got a tour that’s about to kick off, merch is coming, and I’ll tease a project in the works but you’re gonna have to wait and see for the rest. Keep an eye out!

Arno Faraji’s Faraji Season tour kicks off in Adelaide tonight. For more info head here, and follow Arno here

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