Born to immigrant Ethiopian parents, Arima Ederra was crowned with the bittersweet curse of being a first-generation American artist, living between two worlds — what her heart yearned for, and the pressure of wanting to make her parents proud, honoring their sacrifices.
“I definitely have felt the feeling of being in-between two worlds, but the guilt sort of turned into motivation for me over time, and their journeys have inspired mine,” she says. Instead of pushing her culture and parents’ teachings away, she uses their stories as a way to connect to a lineage that might have otherwise been lost, using her voice as a vessel to speak her ancestor's greatest wishes into fruition.
Growing up in Las Vegas, the singer steered rebelliously in whatever direction she desired — art, music, spirituality — sometimes landing her as an outlier. "I was a very rebellious kid, I got into a lot of trouble. I was the one where they were like ‘don't be like her’. I just did what I wanted.” Almost ceremoniously, it’s as if the act of revolting was also passed down throughout her lineage. "I ran away, and it made me think about why I am the way that I am, but my dad was also a pretty rebellious political person," she remembers. "It's a very radical act to leave a place that is your home and seek refuge." With this notion, she belts "my refugee blood, you can't take my freedom," on "Steel Wing" from her newest project.
With her debut album, An Orange Colored Day, Arima channels the innocence of a child's wondrous mind. "Children are a really big part of my inspiration in life," she says. "I think a lot of times, when we come into adulthood, we come with so much baggage and we're jaded." What she admires most about children is "their ability to forgive." This sentiment is heard sonically on tracks like "Free Again"; a song that uses toy trinkets and simplistic drum patterns to paint a fluttering sonic landscape worthy of a child’s imagination. Inspiration for the track came from a psychedelic trip Arima took that led to an adventure led by a hallucinatory childhood imaginary friend. As a message to her younger self, the song teaches listeners to not take life too seriously. "This is for everyone to break free from the mental strains of life, break free from the strains of capitalism, break free from whatever society says you need to be at whatever stage you are in life."
Arima understands that healing while breaking free from oppressive experiences isn't a linear process. "Purging for me is like the beginning of that process, you let out all those feelings. And then I think writing is a way for me to articulate them, name them," to her, the act of purging comes as baring all emotions, defining them, and releasing them as fit. She recalls a "huge purge" that took place in her life after a series of unfortunate events that led to tragedy.