The world would be a very different place if humans could find a way to channel negative emotions into something creative. At 16 years old, rapper Arshia “Aries” Fattahi has discovered early just how to take his inner-most feelings and merge them with his life’s passion. The result is a compilation of highly intense beats wrapped in lyrical art.
Besides dealing with the daily struggles of just being a teenager and all the uncertainty and confusion that comes with that, Aries has also been diagnosed with anxiety disorder. Like many kids his age, Aries’ struggles aren’t uncommon. But what sets him apart is the solace he’s found in creating art and music.
“Making music helped me get away and find myself again,” says the Aliso Niguel HS incoming-junior. “Usually when you’re at your bottom, that’s when you find yourself. And once you do, you’re good. It helps to find something you love to go away with.”
Listening to Aries, you can’t help but hear elements of Eminem and Linkin Park. “Definitely they are influences,” admits Aries. “In the beginning, rock bands like Linkin Park got me into music but Eminem made me want to rap.”
“I’m influenced by all sorts of music but Eminem is the guy who showed me that it’s okay not to hold back. That’s what I get from him – he’s never held back on anything he does. He just puts it out there. Not a lot of artists do that.”
Another Eminem-influenced characteristic is the permission to be lighthearted once in awhile. “I’ve always written funny rhymes and he’s established that there’s a place for that too. It’s nice to have a mix of fun and darkness.”
Despite just finishing up 10th grade, Aries has quite a compilation of music including a stellar album entitled Anguish: The EP which delves into the darkest part of the mind that most of us don’t dare take a glimpse at. Aries meets us at the bottom with loneliness, misunderstanding, fear and anger then cracks open a window, letting in a vein of light, hopefulness, peace and positivity.
A few songs worth mentioning are the powerful Leaving Legacies where he raps, "I will live forever because my stories are here to remember” and the uber-catchy Cardboard Box.
“That whole album is basically all my feelings with a lot of weird beats. Being able to put it all down is great,” Aries says with a mix of excitement and relief.
“I don’t have a release date yet because I don't want to limit myself,” says the ambitious rapper. “I really want to make sure I get it perfect before I put it out and hopefully catch everybody's ears. It's going to be very different from the last one – not as depressing and sad. It’s more hard rap and just good music.”
Beside the angst of growing up in South County suburbia and learning to battle the anxiety that sneaks up unannounced, another recurring topic in Aries music is his experiences growing up in Kansas and then transplanting here to Southern California. It’s a topic he’s yet to be able to let go of.
“The song I recently put out means a lot to me because I talk about growing up in Kansas. It’s comedic but dark,” he says reaching back to that duality that seems to plague most teens.
“Kansas was so much different. Since I moved here, I feel a real loss of innocence has happened. So I always try to bring it back to that. I usually talk about changes and how I’ve felt like I’ve been by myself this whole time. But on the new song, it’s a little different because I rap more about what I’m doing right now compared with my past stuff.”
But in the end, Aries admits, “Orange County is a pretty nice place. It's not a hard place to live for sure. I'm blessed to live here. After coming from Kansas, I'm very grateful to live here.”
Most of Aries music is written and recorded using the digital audio software, Logic Pro, which is a little different than how his father, accomplished Persian musician Farzam Fattahi makes music. But it’s all good says Aries, who has his parent’s full support.
“I don’t mind the explicit language,” says Tess Fattahi, Aries’ mom. “I tell him, ‘As long as it means something, then say what you need to say.’”
But when it comes to his friends at school, Aries seems to keep a tight lid on his budding rap career. “My close friends know and sometimes acquaintances will ask when I’m coming out with something new. But, I try to keep it at a modest level.”
Under the title of his production company Chapter 9, Aries pulls together a few friends to help film his music videos. Armed with a hand-held camera and a couple of flashlights, Aries videos are often filmed in remote areas around the O.C. The post-production and editing makes it hard to believe he hasn’t spent a dime on his polished videos.
"It's just me," laughs Aries. “I used to make YouTube videos when I was a lot younger so I had experience with Final Cut. I’m not even going to say they were funny videos because they were just really stupid. But I learned how to use Final Cut and I got better just practicing making videos. I guess it paid off.”
“I am in the planning stages of designing t-shirts to go along with the album that I’ll be selling. But I don't want to sell the music. I want the music to be free. I want everybody to share it, get it around and have fun with it.”
One thing Aries has yet to do is perform live, but it’s definitely on his “to-do” list. “Definitely it’s something that’s always on my mind. That is the image that I get in my brain when I think about making music, so I hope I can get on stage soon.”
While confident in his choice to continue his dream of becoming a successful rapper, Aries didn’t really become totally confident in himself until last year. “It just hit me that this is it. I have to do this!” he adds emphatically. “I found this one thing and it hasn’t left me. Everything else I’ve been into, I’ve gotten bored of. But this is the one thing for 16 years that I’ve always loved.”
Other things on his dream list is to make it on XXL Freshmen cover and a possible collaboration with rapper Tech N9ne or the ultimate dream of working with Linkin Park.
Aries has hobbies – gaming, basketball, hanging out with friends – but it’s the music that drives him toward a future. While any college music program would love to have him, Aries is still undecided if college is in the horizon.
“I haven’t decided about college,” says the young artist. “I just want to get going. Just do everything that I've been doing plus more. I want to do it all. I love it!”
Through music and creative expression, Aries has found a way to overcome a lot of his struggles. But the one thing he’s learned in his young musical journey is the importance of doing what you love.
“Do what makes you happy,” he advises. “Find yourself and you’ll find what you love. That’s all I gotta say.”
For more on local music news, follow me on twitter @PJ_LaBella!