Exclusive Interview with ARTARI
Sometimes, everything easily falls into place, like it was always meant to be. That’s exactly what happened when ARTARI was formed earlier this year.
After getting to know Ramond and DJ Zenas in Denver and two-time Grammy Award winner Jon-John Robinson and TaiMarie separately in Dallas, Tim Gelt had the idea of connecting the four of them together in Dallas in January of 2019 for a three-day music retreat. He never could have predicted what would come out of this meeting. They connected immediately and “Complicated” – the group’s debut single – was created within an hour of the four of them ever talking with each other.
After producing for them on “Complicated”, Jon-John’s vision was that the three others form a Hip-Hop/R&B group in the image of the Fugees; solo artists that complement each other’s styles and sounds creating music as one, as well.
I got the chance to talk Ramond, DJ Zenas and TaiMarie more in depth about how the group came together, what inspired “Complicated”, what their goals as a group are in the next couple of years and much more! Keep reading to see what they had to say!
For those who might not have ever heard of y’all, can you give us a brief history of the band and how it culminated into what it is now?
Ramond: My manager Tim Gelt introduced me and DJ Zenas to two-time-Grammy-winning producer Jon John Robinson and his daughter TaiMarie. When we first met, it was really only supposed to be a meeting. The synergy of us all fast-tracked this into what would later come to be ARTARI.
DJ Zenas: Our history is actually quite brief. We hail from Dallas and Denver and all officially met recently in January as a whole, with some of us having been connected prior. I am uncertain if becoming a group was even the initial intention. However, after getting everyone in the same room it all just came together, effortlessly.
TaiMarie: ARTARI was formed by a small seed that was planted when me and my pops (Jon-John) went to a Jhene Aiko concert in 2017. Sometime after the concert, we hung back and started chopping it up with Tim Gelt (a super laid back guy that Ramond, Zenas and I are all honored to call our mentor/manager) and Miyoko (Jhene’s sister). Contacts were exchanged and sometime in January, Tim flew out to Dallas with Ramond and Zenas, and we all vibed, created and connected immediately. Then BOOM, ARTARI was then put into action.
Where did the name ARTARI come from?
Ramond: It was initially a play on the old game console “ATARI”. When you think of Atari, you think of a nostalgic gaming system with classics. We felt that our music style had more of a nostalgic feel as opposed to following trends or sounding like today’s music. We also felt that the music we make is about the ART, not the image. Hence the name, ARTARI.
DJ Zenas: A bit of brainstorming, mixed with a stroke of synergy, with a sprinkle of inner-nerd, and a dash of chance (or fate, whichever you prefer).
TaiMarie: It was on the second visit that Ramond, Zenas and Tim all flew out; we were all just talking and having a good time. Someone brought up the name Atari, and we all really wanted something different like that and along those lines. So we figured that we would put a spin on it and call it ARTARI referring to the art, and artistry that all three of us offer!
Let’s talk about the new single, “Complicated”. What was the inspiration for that song?
Ramond: I always thought it would be dope to write a song about a relationship coming from both the male and female’s side. I came up with an idea to talk about how people make relationships too “complex” and we all collectively transformed that into what is now “Complicated”.
DJ Zenas: I don’t think there was anything in particular that inspired the song. We knew we wanted to create something that was relatable, smooth, and an instant vibe. Relationships, of all kinds, can be very complicated, and potentially for no reason whatsoever. So with that notion in mind, the juices started flowing.
TaiMarie: We all wanted to create something catchy and something that almost anyone and everyone could relate to, and I think almost everyone has experienced some type of complicated relationship/friendship, so we took that concept and ran with it.
I always love hearing about the songwriting process so I was wondering if you could give me a glimpse into what it was like specifically for this song.
Ramond: The process of recording and writing was amazing. We came up with the beat and concept the first day we met. The chemistry between us all was just synergetic.
DJ Zenas: The writing process for “Complicated” was such a collaborative effort for everyone involved. Everyone had the opportunity to and was highly encouraged to share their thoughts and ideas. When working with others, you have to be open-minded and receptive to all parties. That is the only way the creative process can be enjoyable for everyone. With that being said, “Complicated” is kind of everyone’s “baby”, for lack of better words.
TaiMarie: The song writing process is one of the most magical processes of creating a song; it’s really where everything comes alive. With writing “Complicated”, it was one of my first actual writing sessions so I was [really just] observing the guysl they’d pitch out some ideas and take that as a crutch for the rest of the lyrics. Some ideas fell through and others persevered, and this process kept going until we got exactly what we’re looking for. It also involved a lot of snack eating to get those juices flowing.
In general, do you guys tend to write by yourselves or do you like collaborating with other writers and artists in co-writes?
Ramond: Everything we’ve done so far has been by ourselves. I think the cool thing about ARTARI is that we create everything in the same room. Nothing is really premeditated so it creates a space of equal contribution to every record.
DJ Zenas: It depends. Every artist operates differently so having good chemistry makes collaborating much simpler. Also, at times you want to work alone and at other times you want to vibe with creatives. But being open to the idea of collaborating and being receptive to feedback or additional opinions can go a long way.
TaiMarie: I usually tend to write by myself and I think that’s what’s so cool about Ramond and Zenas, I learned a lot about how they write and they’re super encouraging and open with ideas; it’s very inspiring.
Was there any major changes to “Complicated” that happened once you guys got into the recording studio, whether it be in the lyrics or something sonically?
Ramond: One of the biggest changes after the song was recorded was that we cut the song down and made it shorter. Tai initially had another bridge at the end, but we cut it to increase the replay value of the record. I would say it worked because the only negative comment I’ve heard about the song so far is that it’s “too short.”
DJ Zenas: I would say no. The entire track was created and essentially finished within a 24 hour window, if that. The process was truly a breeze.
TaiMarie: I think most of the changes happened during the writing session. We had a solid idea so when it came down to recording we pretty much already knew the game plan. We may have added some things here and there to spice it up towards the end, of course.
Now that you’ve got this new single out, any plans for another one? What about for an EP or full length project down the line?
Ramond: Definitely. We already have other material recorded and plan on eventually dropping an EP.
DJ Zenas: Absolutely. We may have a second single that may or may not be completed already. As for a full length project, that is something ARTARI fans will have to keep an eye out for (or even better, demand)!
TaiMarie: Absolutely! Another project is actually right around the corner! We’ve received so much love and support from “Complicated” and there will definitely be some more content in the future.
You guys are still new to the music game. What are some music industry-related goals or benchmarks that you’re aiming to reach in the next couple of years?
Ramond: I personally want to build a core fanbase around different places in the world and then tour to connect with them. It’s always dope to connect with people who connect with your product.
DJ Zenas: Extremely new! I can’t speak for the entire group, but I personally would like ARTARI to become a household name to the masses and to be in such high demand that touring is constant, borderline nonstop.
TaiMarie: My main goal to reach as an artist is to be able to fully bloom creatively and really convey my sound. I want to inspire people and bring joy to others!
Last question — we’re called Talk Nerdy With Us because we all have an inner nerd so what is something that you’re currently nerding out about?
Ramond: I recently started reading a comic book series called Black Sands. It’s kind of like Avatar meets Black Panther and is based in ancient Egypt. SUPER dope.
DJ Zenas: I have been nerding pretty hard about video games recently, specifically Nintendo 64 games (which ironically may be considered vintage nowadays). I was heavy into video games as a youngin’ but definitely drifted away from them in the past decade or so. It’s been nice to relive some of my youth memories and embrace the big kid that thrives within me. Super Smash FOREVER!
TaiMarie: I am a HUGE video game nerd, and the news about a remastered Modern Warfare 3 has me geeking all the way out right now.
Make sure you follow ARTARI both on Twitter and Instagram.
You can also follow Ramond on Twitter and Instagram; DJ Zenas on Twitter and Instagram; and TaiMarie on Instagram.
Featured Photo Credit: John Hampton Jr