Interview: Arno Faraji (AUS) on lessons learned, debut headline tour, and bucketlist gigs

Though he’s been on the road the likes of Rejjie Snow and Tkay Maidza, young Australian artist Arno Faraji is yet to head out on his own headline tour. That’s all going to change in a matter of weeks, as the 18 year old rapper and multi-instrumentalist from Perth kicks off a string of performances to show off some new material, as well as celebrate the handful of hit singles that have so far made him one of the country’s brightest new stars – he did win the nationwide Triple j Unearthed high school competition at the age of 16, after all.

Ahead of the tour, which kicks off early August, we caught up with Faraji to talk about his journey in music so far, and the music rich childhood that has led him to this point in his very young, very promising career. From his origins as a young kid immigrating from Zimbabe to regional Perth with his family, to gaining confidence from the come-up of artists like Remi and Sampa the Great (a testament to why it’s so important to have diverse voices in the music industry), here is what you need to know about Faraji.

It seems you moved around a lot in your childhood. And I imagine the direct exposure to different cultures also opened you up to a variety of different music. What kind of stuff did you grow up listening to and do you feel it’s influenced the artist you have become??

Yeah for sure. My parents loved Afro Jazz, Gospel & my dad was big on Reggae, but I got into that a little later. That’s the majority of what they played anytime we in the car or at home. My older sisters got me into a lot of 90’s and early 2000’s Hip Hop, R&B and even Punk/Alternative from old CD’s and MP3 players I’d find lying around. There were heaps of time to dive into different shit which lead to eventually picking up guitar, and that allowed me to learn about even more genres.

I realised I’d always liked music, it didn’t really matter what form it took, but I definitely feel like that exposure affected how I digest music and how I produce today. If it wasn’t for all of that, maybe I wouldn’t be so open.

Australia’s hip hop scene has never been as diverse as it is now. What’s your perspective on the culture and what made you want to bring your own style to the scene.

I agree, this is the most diverse I’ve seen Australian music and its so dope.

It’s about time too. Nowadays lot of people are getting a representation in the culture that wasn’t so easily afforded to them before, the title of ‘OZ rap’ used to feel exclusively white and male and as a younger artists I didn’t really see a kid like me making it so easily within the scene.

Discovering artists like Remi & Sensible J, Tkay Maidza, and Sampa The Great shifted my mental soo much. Seeing them and hearing from their perspective gave me hope, if they could do it so could I.

And that’s some reasoning behind why I do it, I really love this music shit, plus if there’s a kid like me out there who feels seen and heard now when I rap, that’s the coolest thing.

You’ve had a string of well received tracks over the past few years. Is your previous material a good indicator of any future material you may be working on?

I’d say my previous work does still influence me but more so from a reflective point and not as driving point, I don’t want to aim to make the same music over and over again. I’d like to continue experimenting and growing with my sound.

So far each release has been stretching my boundaries as an artist and I’m proud of that, it keeps things interesting for me and takes the pressure off me to being this idea of an artist and allows me to just be one. Looking back I can say “yo I was in that headspace or vibe when I made that track, but I was feeling totally different in that other track”,

Heading out your debut headline is a huge milestone for any artist. Given you’ve toured with some pretty incredible artists already, is there anything you’ve learned on the road already that you’ll be incorporating into your approach and live show?

Oh 100%. I’m a visual learner and I’ve been so fortunate to learn from watching some of my favourite artist whilst supporting them. I’ve also gotten some pretty solid advice from them too, with the biggest lessons involving allowing yourself to be yourself on stage and feeding your audience the energy you want back.

You’ll really have to be there to see the other training at work (no cap), but since this is my first Headline tour I bet there’s a whole lot more I’m about to learn too.

Can we expect some new tracks in the live show? You’re also a multi-instrumentalist; what do you play and will this be incorporated into your live show?

Yes, you can expect some new sounds on tour. I play guitar, keys, bass, drums and stuff but as of the moment It’s still just me and my DJ on the stage…

I hope to incorporate some instruments into my live shows soon though, you might see a band with me at some point.

What’s your focus over the next 12 months artistically?

Over the next year or so I’m gonna release more music, merch is gonna be out, I’ll have some dope visuals coming out and I’m working to deliver a project too. There is a lot that’s coming!

When you start touring internationally, what’s on your bucketlist? Where would you like to go and why?

This is a cool question because I feel like through answering it, I’m manifesting. I’d love to go to Japan, Amsterdam, LA and the UK for music; on some big shows specifically. And on my bucket list:

  • Smoking A-grade Kush from a coffeeshop or dispensary.
  • Visiting the studios that made my favourite anime records
  • Eating authentic ramen
  • DJing at a club anywhere out of OZ
  • Playing at an AFROPUNK FESTIVAL (in any city)

You can catch Arno Faraji on tour at the following shows. Head to his Facebook page for more information. For tickets click HERE.

August 2nd | Cats at Rocket, Adelaide (with E L K)
August 3rd | The Workers Club, Melbourne (with Jordan Dennis and J.Frim)
August 9th | One Day: Friday Night Lights, Perth
August 16th | The Lansdowne Hotel, Sydney (with Yibby and Teriyaki Mami)
August 17th | Black Bear Lodge, Brisbane (with DVNA and Shyne2Tymz DJ Set)

Chris Singh

Chris Singh is the Deputy Editor of the AU review and a freelance travel writer. You can reach him on Instagram by following @chrisdsingh.