By joining the mid-western landscapes of his youth with visions of the chromatic California skies he now resides under, musician Vug Arakas has produced a sound that reflects a natural gift for storytelling and arrangement. With every note, the performer highlights an innate ability to blend brisk, exuberant melody with the droll musings of a road-tested singer-songwriter. Previously performing with bands such as Sundown and The Stallions, the musician’s recent move from Ohio to Los Angeles offered him a new perspective and musical climate to draw influence from. And by writing and recording guitar-driven songs that provides listeners with a sonic, aerial tour through the mountains of California, Arakas has managed to embellish the crisp harmonies of his compositions with the radiant atmosphere of his surroundings.
Recorded over the course of forty-eight hours at Electrosound studio, the recently released single, “Start Again” and it’s B-side “Slow Going” further reveal Arakas’ capacity for cultivating an original sound indicative of his growth and development as a writer and performer. Produced by Luther Russell on a 1960’s 4-track Ampex machine and featuring an in-studio band comprised of Russell, Arakas and musician/engineer Jason Hiller, “Start Again” contains a vital, contagious spirit that retains it’s spine. And although the song was written long before the musician ever stepped foot in Los Angeles, the recording deftly captures the vibrance and energy of the Golden State, while simultaneously betraying the decay that lies just beneath it’s sheen.
“I spent the first 2 years that I’ve lived in Los Angeles in Downtown Los Angeles. So we thought maybe it’d be cool to kind of just see where I was physically and mentally, which I think comes through with the footage.” – Vug Arakas
Quickly walking past the front entrance of LA’s Mayfair Hotel, Vug Arakas’ surroundings are lit solely by the glare of the building’s harsh lights. A hand-held camera moves closer and closer to him, shakily introducing the audience to the musician. The black lettering of the words “HISTORIC,” and “MAYFAIR HOTEL,” are just barely distinguishable from the sign’s bright white background situated several feet above his head. The video continues it’s deliberate, home-movie concept and direction with a split screen that tracks the artist’s trek from California to New York. Made by Arakas and fellow musician Luke Rathborne, the video indicates the passage of time and miles accrued through various point-of-view shots seen through the passenger side of a moving car. Stops inside the Mayfair hotel, a karaoke bar, a photo booth and an arcade, all paint Arakas as a journeyman, albeit one that’s increasingly bored. And by using unfiltered, raw footage, the musician is able to comically dispel the notion of a California dreamland where every acre is sunlit.
“Start Again”/”Slow Going” available now
Article by: Caitlin Phillips
Photo credit: Brian Merriam