Arya: “Love Me” (ACL Fest Pop-Up)

For some ACL Fest attendees, especially on Day Two or Three after imbibing on Friday, making it out to Zilker Park to catch the first day’s first act is a little too inconvenient. But for the passionate performers bestowed with opening up this internationally acclaimed festival? To call it an honor is an egregious understatement.

Among them is classically-trained, Bachelor’s-in-Jazz-certified pianist-singer Arya, formerly based in Belgrade and now a noteworthy pro in the Austin music scene. After steppin’ into our city limits with her debut 2019 EP, Arya’s continued to introduce us to an array of pop-R&B originals à la carte. Which isn’t totally fair to say, considering each new release will eventually amount to their carefully crafted visual album Insides, out early next year.

Regardless, rocking their own iconic sense of fest fashion, complete with a freshly shaved head, Arya braved it straight past any anxiety for her premiere festival appearance right around noon on ACL’s massive T-Mobile Stage. Again, to call it a “big deal” doesn’t do this opportunity justice. So you can imagine by the time Arya arrived at the KUTX tent for a pop-up session, she was absolutely beaming. See and hear for yourself on Insides‘ latest that just dropped last Thursday, “Love Me”. Based on the merits of this beat-less arrangement (coupled with the banger retro-electronic synth sound of its studio version) we have a feeling Arya’s got a good shot at poppin’ off both on Tik-Tok and NPR Tiny Desk. Get it, girl!

Arya: “i’d rather lose you”

No matter the kind of creative, a hard pivot takes a lot of guts. Be it George Carlin dropping “straight” in favor of “straight up” or Danielle Ponder leaving her legal firm to focus on her pipes, those risky shifts can end up being unique, life-changing gifts. Among the more recent entries into that roster? Serbian national Arya.

You see, Arya spent about a decade and a half back in Belgrade behind a Baby Grand; ten-plus years of classical piano coupled with a Bachelor’s in Jazz. Yet despite becoming a certified ace on the ivories, the fulfillment of contemporary innovation wasn’t exactly there.

Now, as Austinites, we won’t claim that it was the Live Music Capital that turned Arya into the rising star she is today. However, it was Arya’s move to Texas that coincided with her 2019 debut EP it wasn’t love. That record introduced the world to a daring, new, and authentically-emotional pop-R&B voice, no doubt well-informed by her mastery of jazz and classical theory. On top of all that talent, she seems like an outstanding human being as well! Arya’s last single, “Bed”, came alongside her “Better Every Day” merch line, which donates proceeds directly to Austin’s beloved SIMS Foundation.

Arya’s been plugging away at her debut visual EP Insides, but with 2022 quickly coming to a close, she’d be remiss if she didn’t go out in full R&B-stunner style. At 7:30PM tonight at Pedernales Station, Arya unfurls the live rendition of her latest single “i’d rather lose you”, with tattoos by Slowpoke Marfa, free drinks, and more. Can’t make it? No problem. The heavenly piano chords, angelic vocals, and soaring synth bass of “i’d rather lose you” are enough to make you pray for more right away.