Following the success of his previous album ‘Die Aandblom 13’, Arno Carstens has been back in the studio working on brand-new music. Now, the star has released his new single ‘Lift My Spirits’ and promises more exciting music over the next few months. This week, Arno opens up about his upcoming music, his new single and his exciting new sonic direction.
It’s been three years since you released your ground-breaking Afrikaans album ‘Die Aandblom 13’. How have you grown as an artist since that release?
I learnt a lot about myself as a songwriter and performer while I was writing, recording and touring “Die Aandblom 13”. As fate would have it, I wrote it in my childhood home, shortly after my father passed away, and looking back I can say that without a doubt, it has had a life changing effect on me as a songwriter. In the past (before I started writing in my mother tongue) I would write a song organically, as it happened, and most of the time, the sound of the words and the sound of the music was happening as a unit in my mind. However, with Die Aandblom 13, I wrote the words first and then took these “stories” into the studio and crafted them into the songs that they now are. It was an entirely new song writing process and one that I used again, while writing this new English material. I think it’s one of the main reasons my English sound has evolved that way it has.
You went back into the studio with producers Fred den Hartog and Dane Taylor after working with them on ‘Die Aandblom 13’. Why do you think the three of you work so well together?
We get along like a house on fire and I definitely feel an air of mutual respect between artist, producer and engineer. At the end of the day, both of them are incredible artists so it makes things run smoothly without us having to work too hard. We’ve got a good thing running, so I’d like to take our relationship further into other musical ventures.
Tell us what inspired your new single ‘Lift My Spirits’.
The song is a catchy but eclectic, even jarring, type of pop song with rock-ish elements. I guess I wanted to come out with something that makes a bit of a statement and delivers a fresh sound. Again, I think it confuses the radio stations and listeners a bit, but pushing the artistic envelope has always been close to my heart.
Where did you draw inspiration for the track’s music video?
The song kind of lends itself to having a girl dance group so that idea came easy. Other than that, we just wanted to capture the energy of the song and encapsulate the spirit of “anything goes”. It was the most un-preproduced video ever and it came out surprisingly well. I think we did the whole thing in 3 days, from concept to wrapping the filming and I think that wild abandon comes across in the energy of the video.
The track has a strong pop influence. What drew you to a more commercial sound with this project?
I think, as the landscape of the music industry changes, so does the listeners “ear”. In the past, we listened to an album from start to finish as a packaged unit and as an artist it was important to have continuity each time we released a body of work, as an album; but it’s different now. Now, when my audience listens to my music, it’s through streaming playlists, most of the time, so this allows us as artists to be more flexible, and push the boundaries, and try new things. It’s an exciting time.
You’re releasing your upcoming sixth studio digitally and in parts over the next few months. What inspired this approach?
I think people consume media differently now and as an artist I need to be cognisant of both what my listeners want and what the industry is doing. Playlists and social media are the tools that I have at my disposal, in order to reach my fans and these tools define the way we work, to a large degree. An album takes a couple of months to make, years even, and so, instead of keeping all the material in the studio as we craft it, we are releasing it as we make it. This means the music is coming to the fans literally ‘hot off the press’.
What surprises can fans expect on your upcoming album?
It’s early days so let’s see, maybe some collaborations might be in order. All I can say is that there are some very new directions that I am experimenting with, and some old favourites that I’m revisiting. So, there is a bit of the old and a bit of the new.