“The title was the last thing pending… Everything was ready, the artwork had been laid out, the songs produced and we were about to print – but there was no album title. Here it was, the culmination of years of creativity, something I’ve been wanting to do my whole life… And then it came to me out of the blue: Minutes Into Years.”
As well as being an excellent description of the process leading up to her debut album, explains singer/songwriter Arda G, it’s also a line from the fifth song on the album, Grandma’s Minute. “It says ‘I’ll turn those minutes into years’,” Arda clarifies; “I’m talking to my grandmother, saying that we need more time. That I will make more time. Because we always seem to be running from one place to another, there’s never enough time for the things that really matter…”
It’s almost the perfect summation of Arda’s life: a life that has seen her passionate about music from a young age, but unable to find the time to do what she’s always wanted: release her own album. Until now, that is. Because this thirty-something Armenian Cypriot has just launched Minutes Into Years onto the unsuspecting public, who are in for a breathy, catchy treat. “We’re going for this organic band sound,” says Arda of her music. “That means not too many sounds that are processed to death; but rather music that makes you feel as if you’re actually listening to the band on stage: organic, earthy sounds.”
Released on October 17 on Amazon, iTunes, and Bandcamp – “we’re also going to try to have at some outlets, but for the moment we’re focusing online” – Minutes Into Years will have a limited run of 300 copies, all numbered. But, most unusually, Arda is also spearheading an online crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo to get her album released on vinyl as well as in the more traditional digital format.
“There is a returning trend in the music industry for vinyl, and I think this is exactly the sort of music that would sound lovely as an actual record: different, warmer, fuller. The songs are the type that require a vinyl release – they’re almost demanding it!” she laughs. “And through crowdfunding, you’re reaching people all over the world: I’ve had strangers from all over responding – this guy in Germany just ordered a signed vinyl copy, and I’ve had a number of anonymous benefactors.”
It’s all quite forward thinking: with the CD only just launched, it seems quite hasty to push for a vinyl release by February of 2017. But with over 50 per cent of the total raised, it’s looking like Arda may be in luck. “People are very positive about the idea of releasing on vinyl, I think they like the idea of helping us out, becoming part of the journey that I’m on.”
A journey it certainly has been, because when you’ve spent your life holding down a ‘sensible’ job and writing your songs in snatched moments of downtime – “lunchbreaks work well!” Arda laughs – getting to the point of launching your own album – both as a CD and, possibly, on vinyl – is quite an achievement.
“I come from a musical family; my Dad’s a singer in the Armenian Church choir, and it was my mum who encouraged me to start the piano when I was six or seven,” says Arda. But it wasn’t until she was in her late teens that this songstress started to add lyrics to the melodies she created. “Of course it was harder when I went off to uni, but I managed!” she laughs. A spell studying economics and accountancy in Yorkshire was followed by Arda’s return to Cyprus and – most excitingly, she reports – her first ever synthesiser. “Up till then I’d been composing purely on the piano, but having a synthesiser meant I could add strings and beats. And I’d started adding my own lyrics too by that point. So I put together a very basic demo and sent it off…
“This was my early twenties, and I look back and can’t believe both how naïve and yet how confident I was!” she exclaims. “I was still finding my style, and I hadn’t even met any proper musicians. Plus I was working for the Bank of Cyprus.” In fact, it wasn’t till her three-year secondment to London that Arda was able to take her music to the next level, playing gigs at pubs, clubs and bars as a member of what she describes as “a buzzing scene.”
“It’s a lot easier for musicians in London,” she muses. “You send an email, drop off your CD and hey, you’ve booked a twenty-minute slot at The Rock Garden or the Comedy Pub. And performing live really boosts my confidence: you get strangers saying how your songs moved them, or that they really identified with the lyrics. It was a great sounding board, and I’d even begun to get great air time for my songs.”
Arda, however, has always been about taking things to the next level – hence the album launch and the push for a vinyl release.
“Eventually I reached a point where I knew I had to be writing more meaningful lyrics, digging a bit deeper into who I was and what I had to say. And so, a few years ago, I came home. Since then,” she adds, “I’ve been approaching music with newfound beliefs, observing more – becoming more of a singer/songwriter rather than just a ‘pop/indie singer’; I think this is an important role, to talk about what’s happening in society, maybe give that message of hope. Since I came back to Cyprus, I feel my song writing has matured. And so here I am, with a CD just released and – hopefully – the vinyl to come!”
For more information on Arda’s album release, visit www.ardaandthestolenmoon.com or the Facebook page ‘Arda and the Stolen Moon’. To support her Indiegogo campaign to release the album on vinyl, visit www.indiegogo.com and search for ‘Arda and the Stolen Moon’