I am a firm believer that bands who take the extra effort to establish a firm connection with listeners deserve massive respect.
That was the first thing that the Oxfordshire (UK) four-piece Arimea impressed me with. Their honest message ignited my curiosity about their music, but in no way was I prepared for what was about to hit me. The more I dug into the band, the more my interest grew, so I did the only rational thing I could – I got back to them and asked for an interview.
This post is dedicated to Arimea’s debut EP Castle Bravo and my super exciting conversation with Whitney Cooper (vocals). She shares more about Arimea’s story, the direction of their music, upcoming single Wish, and other attention-grabbing topics.
Photo by Helen Messenger Photography
I don’t want to jinx things, but 2021 is starting strong in terms of music discoveries for me. And with Arimea joining the list things have gotten very serious.
I first explored Castle Bravo – their debut EP. The opening track Cold immediately hooked me up. The intro instrumental gripped my attention with a toned-down suspenseful build-up of refined guitar tunes. You might suspect such a start is leading up to an eruption of energy and sound, however, what follows still catches you off-guard. The literal explosion of earth-shattering guitars and vicious drum parts gets your energy levels dangerously high and seals the deal – you are now an Arimea fan.
Every song on Castle Bravo features the captivating intro structure seen in Cold. A phenomenon that made me get chills while imagining what Arimea would sound like live. Something the band is particularly well-known for.
The Oxfordshire-based four-piece emerged on the scene with fire and fury in 2019. They started with mesmerizing live shows giving spectators a taste of high-quality heavy, emotional music – this got them to the semi-finals of Metal 2 The Masses, a competition that would have undoubtedly led them to the stages of Bloodstock Festival.
Shortly after gracefully showcasing their energy and passion, Arimea released Castle Bravo – the entrance in the realms of music couldn’t have been done better.
Castle Bravo establishes Arimea as post-hardcore/alternative metal breakthrough. There is an irresistible fusion of nostalgic early 2000s energy and a confident pinch of the band’s unique interpretation of modern heavy music.
The sublime intros instrumentals are far from the only praiseworthy element. Whitney Cooper’s impressive vocal execution is sure to hypnotize you. The ranges this young woman can execute are stunning – aggressive, filled with anger or smooth and comforting, she sings her heart out in every song and paints vivid pictures of the stories Arimea is telling.
If you want to feel the emotions pierce you extra hard, check out the acoustic variations Whitney and Tom (guitar) blessed us with during the lockdown
The lyrical content of the EP is also worth mentioning – each track represents a personal story based on real experiences. There is no way you won’t connect with the music and find it relatable and comforting considering the explored topics.
The charm of the instrumentals doesn’t end with the intro parts as well – a divine unity of drums, guitar, and bass is visible throughout the whole EP. Outro instrumentals often emerge to complete the perfect song-construction and seal the circle of the story being told.
The song is dark and gritty, perfectly balanced in terms of heaviness
Castle Bravo (EP) sounds coherent and has the versatility allowing it not to be boring or repetitive. The title track, for example, starts with the same toned-down suspenseful that grows into an even harder and more aggressive overall atmosphere. Then gentle and graceful vocals balance things out and once again flow into a crisp, sharp melody.
Disbelief features another interesting element – the background growls complementing Whitney Cooper’s splendid vocals. The Forest paints a grotesque picture with haunting realism and puts forth the feelings of devastation mixed in with the right amount of hope and empowerment.
The whole EP has a range of hard-hitting topics that include self-love and appreciation, suffering from the toxicity of a certain relationship, finding courage and strength to keep going, and even the degradation the social media is slowly bringing to our world.
Now that the start has been set, things are about to get even more interesting. At the end of last year, Arimea released their latest single The Circus – another hard-hitting track hinting about the next stage of their development.
The anticipation for their next single is building up fast – Wish will be out on the 12th of February and will unveil a mix of new techniques.
Photo by Helen Messenger Photography
Before I get to the interview, I want to express my gratitude to Arimea for agreeing to do this. Also a huge thank you to Whitney for approaching our conversation with such positivity and interest – she created a unique atmosphere making our talk an absolute delight.
Follow the band on Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook to stay updated for the amazing things they are preparing. Also, check their merch to add some class to your home and wardrobe and don’t forget to spread the word, so your friends know your taste in music is solid.
Photo by Helen Messenger Photography
You emerged on the scene in 2019 proving yourselves with ferocious live shows. Shortly after that, you released Castle Bravo – how did you manage to orchestrate such a quick entry into the music world? When did you start making your first moves in that direction?
Each of us has a musical background and has been making music for a long time. We have all been in bands prior to Arimea and have a lot of gigging experience.
As of how we emerged – it happened when I moved back from university. I lived in Bristol for four years, and I moved back to Oxford after that. At that time, me and my brother – Tom, the guitarist, decided that music is what we are going to do now. We always wanted to do something together, but we had projects of our own, so we never got around to it.
Ricky, the drummer, is a childhood friend, so we all know each other quite well. Tom and Ricky have been together in bands before, and they were also in the same university, producing a lot of music for other artists. So they are kind of a package deal.
When I moved back, I felt like a third wheel a little bit – but a very lucky third wheel. I was extremely grateful to be able to say “hey, let’s work together” and both of them to be like “hell yes, let’s do it.”
Everything came so well together on the first meeting we had. We put our cards on the table – we have been in bands before, we know what kind of music we want to do, we know which way we want to go. So it was now or never – we decided to put 100% of our energy into it.
Is the band a full-time thing you are doing?
At the moment, we can’t do it full time, unfortunately. We have our separate jobs, and the band is on the side.
Hopefully, we will be able to do music full time one day, that would be a dream come true. I believe that if you work hard enough for anything, you can achieve it.
That’s very well said. And I believe you will get there soon! What you have done so far says a lot – the passion is impossible to miss.
Tell us a little bit about Castle Bravo. It is one powerful debut, a lot of emotion and refined instrumentals are visible. In terms of topics, it seems like a lot of the tracks are based on personal experiences and struggles. Is that the case and what was the main idea behind putting the EP together?
I think Castle Bravo came at a time when we all really needed it. Whether it was mental health, family-related, or other types of issues – we all put everything we had in the music. I think you can notice that – there is a lot of anger in the songs.
For myself – Castle Bravo happened at a very important time. Probably one of the hardest I have experienced. A lot of the songs portray that.
I’m glad you picked up the part about the songs being influenced by real experiences because I find it important to write about things I know well. That makes it more organic. It’s also fun to write about imaginary storylines, it’s actually really clever. I would love to be able to do that someday, but I think it’s hard to write about things that are not coming straight from your life and feelings.
That makes sense. And we can clearly see that with what you have released so far – it is genuine, heartfelt, emotional music. Which would you say is the most important track you have made so far?
Cold is the most important song I have written lyrics for. That’s probably the angriest one as well.
As a band, I think the most important song we have written is The Circus. It is very end-of-era-ish. We had a line-up change, and I think our sound is also changing a lot. The Circus puts a nice touch to that.
As a relatively new band, it seems like you have a solid, confident idea of what you want to sound like. Do you plan to keep pushing the alternative-metal energy further or will you be experimenting by adding different influences with the upcoming releases?
I don’t think we have that planned. But I think it is important for bands to evolve. We are just rolling with whatever we feel works best for us – with the new single we are adding things we haven’t done before.
We got over the initial need to put all of what we had into the first EP – all the anger and feelings are there. Now that we have this out of our system, we can start being creative with what we do.
Castle Bravo was a quick release. It was made of songs we had pre-written in a way. It’s nice to start writing with the band and bring together some more original ideas in this new stage of our development.
If we change our sound that will be a result of a natural process – I think it’s part of the evolution and development of a band.
I also think it is something that happens naturally. Also, you change as people and as a group, so understandably, new inspiration is going to appear at some point.
I love that Katy Perry song. The first time I heard it on the radio, I heard the chorus, and I was like “hell yes, this is a banger.”
We discussed another cover the other day, but I don’t know if I should say what it is. It is not a song you would hear on the radio, that I can tell you. I’m super excited about it, but I think it won’t be coming until June-July because we have quite a bit to do before that. But we do have another cover planned, and it’s going to be epic.
A little bit about the pandemic – it changed a lot for musicians. How did you adapt to the situation, and where are you focusing your energy right now?
Yeah, the pandemic hit everyone hard. It’s a tricky thing – when the UK went into the first lockdown, I don’t think anyone knew how long this was going to last. I personally thought it would be around two weeks and things will go back to normal. I didn’t anticipate how bad it was going to get.
Once you realize this is happening and there are no live shows, you have to find a way to keep the connection with people going. When you see a band live, you make a special bond with them and the music – a really strong one.
So we focused on continuing our growth as a band and trying to get our music out there as much as we could without playing live. We also want to build a good relationship between us and the listeners. I think that’s really important.
When someone is expressing interest in you, it is natural that you take an interest in them too. I love having conversations and listening to people’s passions. I find it incredibly inspiring.
Our priority is to keep that connection going. And of course, we have to keep finding new ways to do that, but I think we are doing okay so far.
I think you are doing great in that aspect. It is easy to tell that you are passionate about what you do.
In that sense, you dedicate a lot of effort in maintaining your digital presence – interacting with fans, releasing playthroughs, acoustic variations of your songs, different content formats. What would you say is the role of the digital world for musicians nowadays?
It’s important. You can’t get out there and speak to everyone, so it’s crucial for bands and listeners to get to know each other somehow. It’s all about the connection.
I think it’s also imperative to listen to what those people have to say. A lot of bands see people as numbers – the numbers are important to some extent, but you also have to acknowledge that those people are investing their time into you. They deserve that you invest some time into them as well. Make the connection, listen to what they have to say.
If so many people give you so many ideas, it’s a good choice to listen – you never know when you will get something great out of it.
Another thing is that you have to carry on, try your hardest to release music. It is so easy to record music nowadays, you can do it in your bedroom even. Of course, not everyone has the opportunity, but in general, it is more accessible than ever. So we have to keep releasing music and updating our socials. It is a lot harder now than it was before the pandemic.
You have a new release coming on the 12th of February – the new single Wish. What can you tell us about the song in terms of sound, theme, and energy without giving too much away?
I’m so excited for you to hear it! Wish was one of the songs that was on Castle Bravo, but it never made it in the final cut. And I’m glad it didn’t because it sounds so different now. It has a very different meaning than originally as well.
Pre-save Wish now
When I was writing Castle Bravo, I was so angry and frustrated. I hope it doesn’t come across as too angry now. It still has some aspects of that, but it’s different.
We are releasing it two days before Valentine’s day. I think whether you are into this and love the holiday or you hate it, you can still listen to the song and take it in whichever way you want. I think that’s a nice aspect of the song.
We used a lot of stuff we haven’t done before. It is more of a ballad-y song, so it will be our first track of this sort. It is new for me as well – I used a lot of new techniques I haven’t tried before. There is one section –my favourite section that I am really happy with.
When you are trying to reinvent a song, it is hard to get out of the mindset of what the song used to sound like. So it was a huge challenge, and it changed a lot during the writing process. I had the worst writer’s block with it – it took me three weeks to get it done. There was this one section that I didn’t know what to do with. I tried so many different things, but nothing was working. So, in the end, I decided to just have fun with it, and now we have what we call the Snow White section because of the way she sings.
That’s the proudest vocal recording I have done so far. I am really excited to release it.
This makes me even more stocked to hear it! And I am glad you managed to overcome this challenge of remaking it.
Are The Circus and Wish going to be part of a bigger project (EP or album)? What is their role in the Arimea story?
You hit the nail on this one! I thought we were sneaky, but we couldn’t get away. We have a small EP we want to release, yes. The Circus and Wish will be part of it, and I think we will add one or a couple more songs to it. This will be the end of this era, and then we will move onto the next chapter.
What is the biggest goal of Arimea for 2021?
This year we are kind of taking it day by day. We do have bigger goals and a timeline of what we want to achieve. But at the same time, it is constantly changing because of the current situation.
We want to release more music – we are absolutely doing it. We are also planning a music video.
Apart from that, we are focused on growing. Until we can go gigging again, we will put a lot of energy into making connections – not just with people who like our music, but also with other bands. This way, we can start getting a rough idea about setting up some shows. We want to do a UK run, and we have an idea about a couple of bands we want to do that with. It’s very exciting.
Photo by Furnell Studio
What was the last time you played a live show and how do you feel now that the stage has been taken away from you?
The last show we played was in March. It was right before the first lockdown – it happened on the 21st of March, I remember it because it was two days after my birthday. We played a venue called the Wheatsheaf in Oxford. It was part of a competition to play Bloodstock Festival.
We got into the semi-finals, and then the lockdown happened, so it was very frustrating. But the show was amazing – I’m glad that was the last one we did. So many people came to support us, and we realized how lucky we are. Back then, we were so much smaller than we are now, so it was fascinating for us. The number of people that came to support us was mind-blowing. This motivated us a lot, also to keep pushing it during the pandemic.
That’s another thing that we tried hard to keep doing –supporting other bands. We made some playlists on Spotify – about bands we found in 2020, bands we played with in 2020, also bands that inspire us. I think it’s important to support each other.
Speaking of playlists – we learn a lot about each member’s musical influences thanks to your specially curated inspirational ones. But I have to ask – who are the bands Arimea would like to share the stage with one day?
I have a few in mind – I would absolutely love to play a show with Spiritbox. They are one of my favourite bands at the moment. Red Handed Denial – Lauren Babic is queen. As Everything Unfolds – they are an outstanding band. Dream State as well – that would be amazing.
I hope that happens one day, I think those bands would work well with Arimea. Let’s do some artists support artists– which UK bands should we all hear immediately?
One of our favourite bands is Kite Thief. I think we both started around roughly the same time – they are awesome. They are from Bristol UK, check out their latest single Pictures. They also have new music coming out soon, so keep an eye on that.
Forever In The Making is another great band you need to check. Lend an ear to End of Watch – I love this song. Also, IDigress, their music is only on YouTube, but my friend Bethany is the singer, and they are really good. Find A Way is a good song to start with.
There you have it – the story behind Arimea’s passion, the many reasons we should be excited about their upcoming releases, and some great music suggestions to enjoy!
I am excited to see how the charming four-piece develops and what kind of mind-blowing evolution is to commence. The new era is getting closer and closer, and this is always something to look forward to.
Once again, a very big thank you to the band for the interest and time invested in this interview. The connection they are building with their listeners is something else, and I am sure great things are ahead of them. Follow them, so you don’t miss out and don’t forget to pre-save Wish – just two weeks before it blows us away.
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