We had the good fortune of connecting with Arily Michele and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Arily, is your business focused on helping the community? If so, how?
I have what is known as Complex PTSD, meaning I’ve had several traumatizing experiences throughout my life. My mission as a musician is to raise awareness about CPTSD, and to inspire people to live their fullest, happiest life, whatever that looks like for them. Maybe it’s leaving an unhealthy relationship or quitting that unfulfilling job, maybe it’s finally mustering enough courage to go after their dreams. I hope they look to me and see that if I can do it, they can too, and I hope they become unstoppable.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My music is a testament to the barriers I’ve had to overcome, both as a musician and as a human being. In my early childhood, I experienced events that were seriously traumatizing. I’m not ready to talk about them publicly just yet, but from age 8 and onwards, this traumatized little kid has lived inside my head. I’ve had to learn to navigate a number of stormy seas, nurturing that traumatized child, all the while trying to become a fully functioning adult. One thing that was essential to my healing was expressing myself through music. It was how I recounted what I went through, and it helped me shape my identity.
I was a self-taught musician pretty much up until I started college. I studied music at Florida State University, and being surrounded by so many intelligent, talented people made me feel out of place. I developed impostor syndrome, thinking I wasn’t good enough, or smart enough to be a musician. I almost dropped out because of it. But my voice instructor at the time, Daniel Belcher, talked some sense into me.
It is never truly easy to break into fields like art and music. You will be told “no” a million times before you ever hear a single “yes,” and you feel so small. Whenever I feel like giving up, I remind myself that I believe in my music and if I keep at it, other people will too. I like to think of rejection and criticism as something that makes my success story more interesting. The most important thing I’ve learned is not to take anything personally. It’s hard not to when you put so much of yourself into your craft. But I once read that “you can be the ripest, juciest peach in the grove and there will still be someone who hates peaches,” and that’s been my mantra ever since.
I think there are a lot of things that set my music apart. I think the biggest point of difference is how much of my identity and my education show up in my songwriting. I love taking some of the rules I learned in my music theory classes and breaking them. I like juxtaposing old and new. Baroque chord progressions played by electronic synths, retelling classic myths, things like that. My lyrics are always a retelling of my own experiences, but I relate them to classic literature, Greek mythology, Tarot and astrology – things I know other people can relate to.
So far, I am most proud of my album, Echolalia. The album took me over two years to make. Originally, it was going to be a self-produced EP that I recorded in my bedroom. I kept putting it off because I was afraid to put myself out there, and because I didn’t have any experience with producing. When the pandemic hit, my band Viewfinders went on a brief hiatus and I pulled Echolalia off the backburner. I started reworking some songs I had written, and it developed from a 6-song EP to a 10-song album. I reached out to Orcun and asked him to produce it for me and we put it together in about 3 months. It took a lot of courage to release it, and I had no real expectations for its performance. I sent it to CPR as like a “why not” sort of thing and a couple months later they asked me to do a short segment on it. That was a huge source of motivation for me. It was like “hey, I’m not just shouting into the void! CPR believes in my music and my message too.” Never in a million years would I have dreamed of that happening. Echolalia is tangible proof of what I can accomplish if I have unwaivering faith in myself and my abilities.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
If my best friend was visiting, we’d probably spend a full day at Mutiny Cafe, go shopping at Boss Vintage, get dinner and drinks at Sputnik, then dance the night away at Milk Bar. I’d take her to see Maxwell Falls in Conifer, then we’d hit Cactus Jack’s in Evergreen. We’d get breakfast at Bonfire Burrito in Golden, then probably have a picnic on Lookout Mountain. If we can swing a longer drive, we’d explore Leadville. Hike the Buffao Peaks trail, do trivia at Periodic Brewing, and spend the nigh in the Delaware Hotel. If she’s up for a challenge, we’d do the Manitou Incline after a continental breakfast at the Cliff House. If there are any local shows, we’d hit Lost Lake, Larimer Lounge, or Hi-Dive. And of course, have a late night meal at Pete’s Kitchen on Colfax.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I want to give thanks to my parents and fiance for their unwavering support. I would also like to thank both my bands (Viewfinders, Black & White Motion Picture), and my producer, Orcun for helping make my musical dream a reality.
Ethan Herrold, Nicole Ford