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20 Questions With Ariella

The Florida singer-songwriter talks loving Raffi, collecting junk & supplying drinks.

Ariella premiered the video for their latest single Terrified right HERE a few weeks back. But don’t let that title fool you. The soulful Florida jazz duo aren’t scared so easily. Case in point: They’ve got live shows booked for Oct. 23 and 24 at the Performing Arts Hall in their Sarasota stomping grounds (you can find tickets HERE). But first, frontwoman Ariella McManus makes it abundantly clear she’s not even slightly intimidated by my absurd questions. Read on — if you dare:



What is your musical origin story?
With musical backgrounds, we’re two people trying to mix, match and melt borrowed styles from everything we’ve ever been moved by and mold it into our own… for 11 years now, all while living in Florida.

What’s your latest project? Tell us everything we need to know.
Ariella is our latest project. It’s us as a duo, trying not to sound like a duo while simultaneously trying to embrace being a duo.

What truly sets you apart from other artists?
We aren’t over produced. Or even done figuring out our “sound”. We haven’t settled. I think that greatly sets us apart from other artists.

What will I learn or how will my life improve by listening to your music?
I wouldn’t be so bold as to think I know the answer to this.

What album / song / artist / show changed your life?
TLC‘s Crazy Sexy Cool. I had it completely memorized by middle school. Yes, I realize that’s odd and perhaps way too suggestive for a young child. But I loved them.

Tell us about the first song you wrote and / or the first gig you played and what you got paid.
My first song was probably some ditty for our answering machine back before cell phones. My first gig was a guest appearance singing a few songs for an outdoor picnic. I was paid $100. Then I moved to Texas and didn’t gig again for two years. When I came back to Florida, the same band hired me for Friday night gigs — that’s where I officially met Nicolaas.

What is the best / worst / strangest / most memorable performance you gave?
One of the most significant performances was for the Tropical Heat Wave Festival put on by the local radio station in Tampa, WMNF 88.5. It doesn’t exist anymore but that year when we submitted, we got declined. The roster was full. Then, last minute, a cancellation happened and we were given a top slot in this amazing underground Cuban club. We knew if we were going to be remembered we had to give it everything we’ve got — so we did.

What is the best / worst / strangest / most memorable performance you’ve seen another artist give?
I’m not easily impressed by the typical traits someone else might be drawn to an artist for. However, that being said, I witnessed Bobby McFerrin at NAMM this year. He, and the group he sang with, were truly inspiring, in ways one can’t describe, you just have to be a part of it to understand.

What do you want to be doing in 10 years?
Traveling, touring, and hopefully heavily involved with helping others.

What living or dead artists would you collaborate with if you could?
Paolo Nutini.

What artist or style of music do you love that would surprise people?

What are your favourite songs / albums / artists right now?
Raffi. I need him in my life. More and more the older I get. I need his courage, his kindness, and his contagious love. His gentle message and tender voice brings me to tears. Revisiting this childhood music and memories. It’s healing. #belugagrads

How about some other favourites? Authors / movies / painters / philanthropists / you name it.
My favorite other is Richard Bach. Artist favorite is Nina Wilkinson. She makes beautiful artwork here in Florida.

Who would you be (or have you been) starstruck to meet?
I’d get starstruck by Tom Waits. He’s my musical hero.

Tell us a joke.
Oh um.. I don’t know any. sorry.

What do you drive and why? What do you want to drive and why?
I drive a Dodge Grand Caravan. It’s perfect for me and all the hats I wear.

What superpower do you want and how would you use it?
I’d speak/sing every language. I’d use it to connect and share.

What skills — useful or useless — do you have outside of music?
I can knit and crochet. I’m not great at it, but I can do it, and I enjoy it.

What do you collect?
I collect random things, some would say, junk. It depends on the season or where the moon is I guess — but I am not a consistent person. Nothing stays the same … ever.

If I had a potluck, what would you bring?
Drinks, I would bring drinks. Probably more than I should but since I don’t drink the sauce anymore I like to ensure there is something there that I like. Anyways, that also solves the “what do I cook?” and “am I getting this dish back?” thing.

What current trend or popular thing do you not understand at all?
I’m not sure what’s popular, so I don’t know. TikTok is hilarious — so I get that. Politics are awful — so I get that. Um, maybe bashing people for making personal choices… That seems to be very popular and I hope I never understand it. I just avoid it like the plague.

Tell us about your current and/or former pets.
We had an old lady cat, she passed away. We had a killer psycho dog who tried to kill the other dogs in the neighborhood, so he’s not with us anymore. We now have only one cat who is my absolute favorite. His name is Boojie Schmittens, also known as Leo, but we never call him that. He has many years left in him, but after he goes, I think no more animals for me for a long, many moons.

If you could have any other job besides music, what would it be and why?
I’d like to be a pilot. I’ve already accumulated some hours in a few different types of aircrafts, but I ran out of funds for flight school. It’s ridiculously expensive, in case you’re wondering. My goal is/was to fly private charter jets. I’ll have to come back to this goal after I’m rich and famous … or just the rich part.

What’s the best advice and/or worst advice you were ever given?
Just do the next right thing. I tend to get quite grandiose in my thinking. I forget that keeping it simple changes the weight I think I’m carrying. It’s all an illusion. I’m not carrying anything and all I have to do is try to do the next right thing. That’s what changes my world.

Watch Terrified and Joy above, hear more from Ariella below, and keep up with them via their website, Facebook and Instagram.

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