Miranda Arieh Interview
Nick Cody: Hi. So I’m with Miranda Arieh. Welcome to Music For the Head and Heart.
Miranda Arieh: Thank you. Nice to be here.
Nick Cody: So, let’s start with the question I tend to ask a lot of offices. What is it you love about music?
Miranda Arieh: I love music because it’s a medium that crosses all borders. It’s something that people feel rather than think too much about it. It can have such an emotional reaction and also from a songwriting perspective, just to be able to express myself in the form of melody and words in a song just feels really healing for me as well.
Nick Cody: And you have your stage piano here today?
Miranda Arieh: I do indeed. Yeah, the Cog-
Nick Cody: Not the lightest of pianos, but sounds great-
Miranda Arieh: It’s a beast. Yeah.
Nick Cody: And I understand that you also play, you have other instruments that you play as well.
Miranda Arieh: I do, yes. I play bass and I also play acoustic guitar, although I don’t really do that much live anymore, but I play bass with Sister and the Music Collective as well.
Nick Cody: So, do you have a favourite in any of these instruments?
Miranda Arieh: I really love playing piano. Piano for me is something. It touches something really deep in my soul that acoustic guitar never did because I used to do my solo sets just playing acoustic guitar and singing and it never really resonated with me in the same way that piano does. It feels really in my blood to be playing piano and my mom was a concert pianist when she was a child. So, I think maybe some of that is ruffed up into me and bass. I love playing base. Absolutely love it. For Sister of Music Collective, which it’s a group of four female singer songwriters that we founded together and we play solo, but all on stage at the same time and collaborate on each of the sets. I played bass throughout the majority of our set and I just love it. It feels, yeah, it really does something to me. It really moves me and I like the, I don’t know, it just feels great to play bass as well.
Nick Cody: So, we were talking a little bit before this interview about artists and who has inspired you today and why those particular artists?
Miranda Arieh: Well, we were just talking about Lady Gaga actually. Yeah and very recently the guy who does my makeup for my videos sent me quite a lot of Lady Gaga videos to watch and I’m really in love with her artistry. I think that’s absolutely beautiful and then also with other artists like Joanna Newsom. I don’t know if you’ve heard her. She’s a harpist and she sings and plays harp and have voice is a very acquired taste and a lot of people don’t like it, but it’s so unique and I just adore the way she presents herself and sings and the way she uses words and I love the harp as well. It’s an instrument on my list to learn one day and other artists. I love Patti Smith. I saw her live last year. She was incredible and I think going back to even early. My early influences are all in punk funnily enough though. I was an absolute punk when I was about 14, 15, 16. I was in punk bands and-
Nick Cody: Who are your punk favourites back in the mid seventies?
Miranda Arieh: Well, I didn’t really listen to much mid seventies punk. I was more into ’90s punk, No Effects, Lagwagon, Penny Wise, Dropkick Murphys and just, yeah. So, I was really into all the, I suppose it was modern punk back then. Less Than Jake, some ska stuff and yeah, I really enjoyed a lot of that punk and that’s definitely still up my roots for sure.
Nick Cody: So, if you think about, you clearly have a great love of music. So, here’s a question for you. What makes for a really great song in your view?
Miranda Arieh: Something that makes me feel. There’s so many times when you plan a lot of gigs on the road you get to see a lot of musicians and you get to see a lot of shows live and there’s so many people that I’ve seen who are technically brilliant and they won’t ever play a note wrong and their voice is perfect and it sounds beautiful and it’s technically brilliant, but their music just might make me feel absolutely nothing, but then I can see someone who might be shaking because they’re so nervous and their voice is quivering or they might play bold notes or whatever, but their music resonates with me on a really deep level and makes me feel something. So, I’d say that’s probably really important to me and one of the quotes that I absolutely love and I always carry with me, it’s a quote from Beethoven and he said, “To play a wrong note is insignificant, but to play without passion is inexcusable,” and I love that and I just carry it everywhere with me.
Nick Cody: So, we talked a little bit about music and mental and emotional health and I know that’s been an interest of yours. So, what involvement have you had in that and what thoughts do you have on that area?
Miranda Arieh: I’ve had so much involvement in it. When I was a teenager, I was about 14 years old and I was sectioned into an adolescent mental health unit at Highroads Hospital in Yorkshire and I was really struggling a lot with depression and anxiety and I was self-harming quite badly and I’d been running away from home a lot and I think they just didn’t know where else to put me and I was in there for about nine months and I was a massive rebel.
Miranda Arieh: Like I was saying before, I was really quite a punk at heart. It was in there that I first picked up a guitar and it had one string and I remember first starting to write on that and I’d always written loads of lyrics. I have files full still just of papers that I’ve just written poems and poems and lyrics on and drawn pictures and I’d always been very creative with the way I was feeling, but then I found that medium and I immediately started writing songs on this guitar and yeah, that really showed me, “Wow, okay, this is what helps me. This is what I find therapeutic and this is a way that I can express myself,” when a lot of the time I wasn’t able to say how I was feeling if someone was asking me. I wouldn’t be able to say directly in a sentence how I was feeling, but I could put it in a song and I could write about it and it would help me move that energy.
Nick Cody: So, I understand, mostly you’re writing your own material?
Miranda Arieh: Yeah, I write all my own material. I don’t really do covers. Oh, apart from I did do one Bob Dylan cover very recently for a charity compilation I was asked to be part of. So, I did a cover of a Bob Dylan track on piano.
Nick Cody: Which one did you do?
Miranda Arieh: Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right.
Nick Cody: Oh, that’s classic.
Miranda Arieh: I love that song so much. Yes. So, I did that, but that was a one off. Yeah.
Nick Cody: So, when you’re thinking about what inspires you in the writing process? Is it a lyric? Is it a sound? How do you put together your own songs?
Miranda Arieh: A lot of the time it can be something just going on in my head. I might literally just get a hook in my head and I’ll start singing something to myself and it might be a phrase I’ve heard someone say on the bus or something I might have just said or it can be anything and sometimes I will literally just get melody and word in my head, just hook and I might just go to my piano and start to work it out and build it into a song or a lot of the time I will sit down and just write words.
Miranda Arieh: I’ve got a notebook. It’s always important to me to have a really nice notebook that I really love and at the moment I’ve got one with a unicorn on the front. It’s an ancient tapestry on a really lovely notebook and then I’ll just write down ideas in that all the time, just little sentences, a lot of conversational stuff and the ideas I have and then sometimes I’ll fit them into songs and then sometimes I’ll just sit on my piano and I’ll do something wrong on a song that I’ve already written and I’ll be like, “Oh, that sounds nice,” and I’ll just explore the piano in that way because I’m self taught. So, I don’t really know any of the names of the notes or the chords. I just feel my way around it and hear what feels nice. So, sometimes I just write like that, but it’s always different in the way I write.
Nick Cody: And for people watching this who are thinking about writing their own songs, but might think in their heads, “Oh, I don’t know if I could do that.” What advice would you have for somebody who’s really starting out?
Miranda Arieh: Well, I think if you’re feeling like writing a song even if you’re worried that you can’t, just do it. Recently the Sister of Music Collective that I was mentioning before, we got fun to do some songwriting workshops across Leeds in deprived areas that where people wouldn’t normally have access to be able to go to songwriting workshops or learn instruments and stuff and we did these workshops and it was just about giving it a go and a lot of people, well all people surprise themselves actually. Most of them were really nervous, but they surprised themselves and they surprised us actually with the way that they could come up with expressing themselves creatively through lyrics and the way that they could so quickly pick up an instrument as well. For me, I feel if you could go like that, you can play a piano. I really do because you can play it. So, you just hear what sounds nice.
Nick Cody: And if people want to find out about you, what are the best ways that they can connect with you and find out what you’re up to?
Miranda Arieh: And I’m on all social media channels. So, Facebook/MirandaAriehmMusic and then Twitter and Instagram, Miranda Arieh, yeah and I post all my videos and songs on there as well. [Singing 00:11:25]
Nick Cody: I know you’ve spent a lot of time working on your videos and some of them are wonderfully out there. So, tell me something about your thinking behind the videos and the process for coming up with what you come up with it.
Miranda Arieh: I think for the songs that I do, it feels like I enjoy all the processes, writing the words, writing the song, laying the vocal melody over the top, seeing what I’m going to do with my voice. I love the recording process and then the video is the icing on the top of the cake that I don’t feel the songs almost finished until I can visually represent it and it’s felt really amazing for me to be making videos where I can take on different characters within each video and permanently reinvent who I am and sing the song from this character’s perspective and when I’m going to do a video for a song to think, okay, who is it singing the song? So, the last one I did, it’s I want it to be a lizard.
Miranda Arieh: I was really lucky to be working with a team that when I said, “I need to be a lizard for this one.” They were all, “Okay, yeah, that’s great,”
Well, we’ve got these lizard ideas,” and so, it’s really nice. It’s really refreshing to be working with people like that and just yeah, how can I visually represent? It’s another form of expression. Like I said before, it’s all about for me, expressing myself in that way. So, a lot of the time, yeah, of course it’s part of me and the characters are all part of me that I take on in the music videos, but it’s yeah and acting as well as a character and someone else is almost singing the song and who is best to sing that song? Is it a lizard or is it a clown?
Nick Cody: And from your music to date and from everything that you’ve done, if you could pick out one moment where you go, “You know what? That was a really great moment.” What would you pick?
Miranda Arieh: Throughout the whole time I’ve done music? This because I think keeping up to date and keeping it present. This week’s been a fantastic week for me. I started to focus fully on music just a few months ago and quit my jobs and decided actually to take the plunge and take the risk because my whole life, since I was a very little girl, all I wanted to be was a singer. All I ever visualised in my head was wanting to be a singer and that was the thing that soothed me when I was a child. That’s all I ever thought and imagined I wanted to be and so, it was going to have to happen at some point and this week, throughout January in fact, this week has felt really lovely for me because every single day I’ve been doing music.
Miranda Arieh: Tuesday I did music with Leeds University and did a session with the students. Yesterday I did a session with BBC Leeds and then today I’m doing another session and interview and tomorrow I’m doing rehearsal with Sister Music Collective. So, it feels like now is the best time for sure for me because I’m just getting to do what I love every day and that’s just what I want to do with my life because life’s too short. I don’t want to wake up and dread what I’m going to be doing in that day. I’ll go to sleep in a night thinking, “Oh God, I’ve got to get up.” This morning I had to get up early and I was like, “Great, I’m getting up early because I’m going to go play songs and do an interview and it’s going to be really exciting, have really great conversation and stuff.” So, see, yeah, now is the best time for sure.
Nick Cody: Well, thank you so much for coming on our platform. We really appreciate it.
Miranda Arieh: It’s been a pleasure. Thanks for having me.