Erykah Badu: I have truly been influenced by her spiritual lyrics, unique voice and style from a young age. I remember someone telling me to sing her songs when I was finding my own vocal style and it came so naturally to me that it shaped me as a vocalist. Songs like Bag Lady, On And On, Next Lifetime and Love Of My Life were all revolutionary.
I regularly perform her music live on stage.
M.I.A: I love the way she mixes Sri Lankan and Indian influences in her music sonically and visually. Videos like Bad Girls, Sun Showers and Rewear It changed my life. She inspired and reinforced the belief that you can show your activism through visuals and impact the world. I also love how she is unapologetically herself with conviction, which
truly motivates me to be more of who I am even if people might not have a positive reaction to it. That is because my art is for me just as much as it is for others.
Lauryn Hill: I was always astounded by her wisdom about life. Ex Factor was the first song I sang publicly and recorded my voice singing it in a studio. The first time I heard myself played back was when I sang her songs. I loved the rawness in her voice, use of ad-libs and lyrics that really captures situations in life. The first album I ever bought for myself was The Fugees album and the second was The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill.
AR Rahman: I’ve grown up listening to his songs and how he has progressed into becoming an international producer, while still maintaining such a humble vibe. So many of his songs were family favourites. I was so happy when he made the music for the international Slumdog Millionaire as I was excited for more of the world to experience
his music. Him also being from South India was super inspirational.
Timbaland: One of the most influential producers of all time. I love how his projects with Missy Elliot and Aaliyah have remained timeless and iconic. He has such a signature sound that you just know it’s a Timbaland beat no matter which artist he works with. He has worked on some of my favourite albums and most his songs have been on repeat. I’ve always dreamt of working with him.
FKA Twigs: Her soft femininity and innovative visuals, lyrics and melodies have captured me and she is one of those artists you just can’t take your eyes off. It’s like she delicately draws you in with a unique way. Her Instagram posts are also really honest and authentic about her struggles. Her style and look are really different and unique. She’s just really interesting to watch and that’s really important to have as an artist.
Jada Pinkett Smith: Her honesty about the trials and tribulations in her career, and family life have really inspired me to be more frank and open in my music. As humans, I think it’s really important to talk about the struggles we have openly so we can all feel connected as a species. I feel many people struggle with similar issues, but fail to share. In my music, I really hope to bring up talking points where listeners can find common ground to relate to each other.
Kanye West: I love how Kanye has diversified his art into avenues such as fashion and how everything he does or says is a statement. I think he can be really misunderstood sometimes when he is trying to be authentic about his feelings. He has inspired me to be blunt and honest about what I feel in my own endeavours, giving me a certain courage to just say it how I feel.
Rumi: His mystical poems and writings are incredible. I always keep a million quotes of his
around me to remind me of the depth of life, love and existence on this earth. It’s amazing how someone from the 13th century can influence me so much today, but it just goes to show that certain topics, feelings and situations don’t change no matter the time period. Many of his poems have sparked me to write songs and been a catalyst to feel my own emotions more.
Plato: The philosopher has actually inspired me and my work immensely. His analogies and metaphors of society have greatly shaped my understanding and concepts of the world. In my music, I really want people to see certain traps that they may find themselves in due to mind-set or beliefs. His way of explaining certain ideologies such as ‘the cave’ and ‘the beast’ have really allowed me to explain certain ideologies I have of the world in lyrical and visual metaphors.
- Lotus Ari is a singer, songwriter and poet. Visit Instagram: @lotus_ari and YouTube: @SingergirlAarya