Arih SK
Photo: Amber Lee Williams

Niagara artist Arih SK has just released his latest single, “A Lot of Questions”, about the “bouncy merry-go-round of parenthood”. We caught up with Arih to chat about the new music, his method of overcoming writer’s block, and advice he’d give to his younger self.

From the Strait: Tell us about the new single, “A Lot of Questions”.

Arih SK: Kids are curious. They ask so many questions, and about anything. How do carrots grow? Can I grow carrots in the backyard? Where do hamsters come from? Sometimes I know the answer and other times I don’t and the questions can take a philosophical turn, like “What is a family? Is it someone you would die for? Because I would die for Scarlet [her hamster].” Kids remind you to ask questions, look at your assumptions, examine why you believe certain things. So I find I’m the one learning from her. Once I was stuck on a project and found myself explaining that I didn’t know where to start. She said “you start from wherever you are.”

FTS: All writers (save for the exceptionally lucky ones) experience writer’s block from time to time. How do you battle through a block when songwriting?

Arih SK: For me, I’ll try to write a few bad songs. I’ll imagine I’m the first person to ever write a song and I can use all the biggest rhyming cliches, all the most well-worn chord progressions, all the corniest crappiest lyrics. I think a lot of the time the writer’s block is trying too hard to make something good. If you take away that pressure and allow yourself to just make, then you can get through the block, make a bunch of bad stuff and move on to the good stuff.

FTS: What advice would you give to your younger self?

Arih SK: Where to start. I think I spent a lot of grade school trying to fit in with the cool kids. That all feels like wasted time. I wanted clothes that I didn’t have or shoes that everyone else had. In high school I wanted to be taller and really wanted to be in a relationship. I spent so much time worrying about these things, all that energy that could have been directed elsewhere. I also wasn’t too amenable to advice, so I’m pretty sure that younger me would just tell old me to get lost, you know? Here are some things I wish I did instead (in no particular order): join more clubs, be kinder, spend more time with dad, write things down, try out for sports teams, learn to dance, learn the piano, take a trip by myself, and there’s lots more. But maybe a lot of that is really just me wishing there was more time.

FTS: What’s one album you can’t get enough of right now?

Arih SK: I’ve been on a 90’s kick recently which started with the question of which ‘Big Shiny Tunes’ was the best one (for me, it’s BST2). I love the nostalgia of childhood songs and I still know all the words to ‘Drinking in L.A.’. Another album from that era is ‘Maybe It’s Me’ by Treble Charger, which has some really nice pop melodies in songs like ‘Friend of Mine’ or ‘Stupid Thing to Say’ or ‘Christ is on the Lawn’. Then there’s Amanda Lyn Parker’s new album, ‘Memory Motion Picture’, which has to be one of the best debut albums I’ve ever heard. Seriously, someone please give her an award.

FTS: What’s your favourite thing about being a musician?

Arih SK: One half is the rush of creation. You’re making something new, and once in a while it all clicks into place and it’s magical. There’s no other thing like it. The other half is meeting other artists and musicians. These are some of the most interesting people in the world. They are busy making things and thinking about things and trying new things. They are people who want to create things (and not just money). There’s an amazing community of artists and musicians in Niagara and beyond and I’m really happy to be a part of it.

Check out the latest single from Arih SK, “A Lot of Questions”!