Alt Soul artist Aruba Red released her latest EP track ‘Butterfly’, last month accompanied by a stunning video. The video was recorded at her recent debut headline show at St Pancras Old Church, in early March just before the lockdown. It perfectly captures Aruba’s spellbinding live performance and stage presence, as she sings her healing and uplifting lyrics that bear so much significance for the challenging times we face today. She chats to us about the inspiration behind the track and Music video, how her music has evolved since beginning, how lockdown has been for her and what she wishes to achieve with her music.

Leah Marriott: What inspired the track Butterfly?

Aruba Red: My EP Shadow Work documents a really difficult time in my past, my personal stepping stones to freedom and coming to terms with the aftermath of a decade-long abusive relationship that I had escaped from. Butterfly is the final piece in that chapter and was inspired by my knowing that I had put in so much work into my healing, mental health and moving away from codependency and toxic love addiction. I now understand and know healthy love and that is what Butterfly is a testimony to. I'm singing about my own transformation. I was held in a virtual cage for a long time, separated from my creativity and the essence of my true self. I'm now able to view that part of my life as the chrysalis stage, something that on some level I co-created.

Butterfly is about self-love and positive mental health, about ritual, plant medicine, essential oils and taking responsibility for our own happiness.

LM: How do you hope people feel when listening to the track?

AR: My hope is that Butterfly will be received as a soothing balm, I want people to feel uplifted and held, I envisage the music raising people's spirits and bringing them closer to their own innate healing power.

I wrote this song with my good friend and long-term collaborator Renell Shaw at his home studio and we were just vibing, he played me a sample of David Attenborough talking about the secret life of butterflies and I just wanted to feel free. I hope that everyone who hears this song will feel the positive messages of healthy love and know that they deserve this for themselves also.

LM: What was the inspiration behind the music video for Butterfly?

AR: Just before lockdown on the 11th March, I performed at my debut headline show at St Pancras Old Church, we were so lucky to be able to go ahead and it was such a beautiful night. I had waited for a long time for a booking agent or promoter to come along and eventually I realised that if I wanted to make this happen I had to stop looking externally and just do it myself. I took the plunge and the night was a success! Thankfully we had the foresight to have everything professionally filmed and recorded even though we didn't realise at the time that this was going to be the last live show for a while. The video came out of that night, a nostalgic throwback to just a couple of months ago which now feels like another lifetime when we were free to dance, sing and play together.

My good friend Farrah Drabu of DNR Films did a beautiful montage edit and then another friend WrightyMedia added the gorgeous animated butterflies. I'd never seen a live music video fused with animated lyrics before and I really love what we've created.

LM: How would you describe your sound to entice new listeners?

AR: I create alternative soul music inspired by the themes of healing and transformation.

LM: How has your music evolved since you began recording?

AR: Yes definitely, I used to be a lot more overtly political in my lyrics about global issues of injustice. Those older songs still hold a special place for me but over time I have begun focusing more on the internal revolution that is necessary in terms of mastering our own selves and understanding that the psychology of true change takes place on a personal level before it can ripple outwards.

My music is very autobiographical and as I am moving into a much more positive life experience, my music reflects this journey.

LM: Has lockdown had a positive or negative effect on your creativity?

AR: For me personally lockdown has been a huge journey in itself, so much has happened in such a short time. I was awarded the Doing It Differently Covid-19 grant by the incredible organisation Help Musicians UK and I have been using this time to develop the production of a live visual and audio series using content from the headline show at St Pancras Church. I'm exploring the opportunity to fuse my music with the wellness work I have to offer and this is throwing up some really interesting options that are sparking my creativity in new ways.

Lockdown also inspired me to offer regular live guided meditations on my instagram every Monday at 9pm BST and I have been leading online meditations for other organisations including the shesaid.so network and Point Blank Music school. I've been able to perform live virtually for Lyrix Organix and over 500 pregnant women for Free Birth Society which felt really incredible. I was also asked to write an article on resilience for UK Music. I think human interaction and connection is vital to our survival and am passionate about not letting the "new normal" erode this necessity completely, but I have also been pushing myself to embrace new opportunities and means of creating and building new networks and bridges.

LM: What is the story behind the name 'Aruba Red' and how do you feel it embodies your music?

AR: My sister Kyla chose the name for me, Aruba Red was a legendary female pirate who is said to have sailed the seas with her red hair billowing in the wind. I loved the imagery of this strong Celtic women navigating a male dominated world a few hundred years ago and thought it would be wonderful to evoke her spirit through my music. I also use her character to represent my love of collaboration with the musicians in my network, surviving outside of the mainstream, resilient, sharing resources and musical influences in the spirit of appreciation and mutual exchange.

LM: Do you have any goals outside of music or perhaps things you wish to achieve through the use of music?

AR: I am working towards developing and intertwining my wellness offerings alongside my music and having these compliment and support each other. I want to share my journey in hope that my experiences will continue to motivate me to never stop developing and growing, moving up through the veils of consciousness by working back through layers of trauma and I would love to share this with as many people as possible. I am also currently training to become a radical birth keeper so I can support women and families who are choosing to birth in their full autonomy, something I am hugely passionate about. I gave birth to my son under a full moon in the water at my home and I would love to help awaken this possibility for like-minded mamas-to-be.

The opportunity to give birth without medical intervention and medication was a huge catalyst for awakening me to my own power and led me to freedom. Peace on Earth begins with birth.

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