Interview: Ariana Grande: “Put Your Hearts Up”

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As I began to write about Ariana Grande, currently known as Cat Valentine on Nickelodeon’s Victorious, I looked up and she happened to be on my TV. I watched for a second and she was playing with a puppy, adorable but all I thought in that moment was how much I wanted the karaoke episode to be on. The one where Ariana belts out with her costar Elizabeth Gillies. I go back to that episode in my mind sometimes; it lifts me up into a state of pure bliss. Ariana’s vocals have this ability to carry you from the darkest of places into a euphoric trance. I find myself wishing that that episode were on whenever I see Victorious on TV nowadays. It has struck a chord in me and I don’t think it will ever stop resonating.

I admit it; I find Ariana’s character to be frustratingly exasperating. I want to grab her by the shoulders sometimes and yell at her, to shake some sense into her. But that is her job, to invoke a sense of ridiculousness in the viewers, to be the comical relief while other characters are doing whatever it is they’re doing at Hollywood Arts. And when Ariana or should I say Cat, is given the chance to showcase her voice, that’s when her job is done.

It all seems so effortless for her. With one note, she can break you. She has a gift that so many people would kill for. Originally, I thought I watched Victorious because I enjoyed the riveting plot twists and wanted to see the character development throughout the series. But I soon realized that I watched for Cat, she was mesmerizing with her strange behavior and distant comments. But her detached character pulled me in. And her voice kept me there.

“I find it a lot easier to sing when there’s an emotional connection to the lyric!”

When I had gotten whiff of Ariana Grande recording a solo album, I was elated. With what I saw on Victorious, I could only imagine where she could go with that voice of hers. I predicted a pop album but her single, “Put Your Hearts Up,” was so much more than just a pop single. It was a pop single with soul, heartbeat, substance. I rarely listen to pop songs, whenever I do, it’s in the car with my friends and I just block that out. “Put Your Hearts Up” is a song I’d be happy to hear over the radio, anytime. Ariana Grande is 18 years old but I sense she’s an old soul and I imagine her album will sound like, a fun pop album with a real groove. Let’s hope I’m right.

I’m excited to hear more music from Ariana Grande, especially a full length album. And you should too. Ariana has a show at the House of Blues in Anaheim tomorrow where she’ll be singing “Put Your Hearts Up” in addition to a new song she will be debuting from her album. I wish I were in California right now because I would be at that show. Hearing Ariana Grande sing live is definitely going to be added to my bucket list.

Snatch your ticket now!

You’ve done a lot of mash ups and covers of well known pop songs that have been really well received. Was writing your own material different from that for you? If so, how?
Very different! I love doing covers and mash ups of course but writing my own music is much more personal… Singing about things I can directly relate to is very satisfying and I was very excited when I started the album to be a part of the writing process for that reason! I find it a lot easier to sing when there’s an emotional connection to the lyric! Even if it’s a fun little pop song I like remembering exactly what I was experiencing in my life when I wrote it.

When it comes to writing, is it more natural for the lyrics or the music to come out?
I guess it depends! It depends on a lot of things… on the day, whether we’re writing to track or just piano or if there’s a lot on my mind. When we’re writing to track I will just go in the booth and lay down some melody ideas right away and sometimes when I’m doing that, little random words will come out. Or sometimes I will have a concept way before the track or melody are even around. I just love writing. It’s so fun watching music happen. I also love listening back once it’s done and remembering how it all happened.

Where do you draw your inspiration for song writing?
My life experiences. My writing is incredibly honest. I will go on a date and write a song about it the next afternoon and sneak little lyrics in hinting to the boy it’s about hoping he hears it one day. I’m excited for my fans to get to know a little bit of what’s been going on in my head for these past few months! But as far as song titles and language inspiration… I watch a lot of old movies and listen to a lot of older music from the 50s and 60s. It was all very honest and romantic. I’m so inspired by the simplicity and sweetness of Audrey Hepburn’s movies and Connie Francis and Leslie Gore’s love songs.

What was it like singing your own songs live for the first time? What was the fan reaction like for “Put Your Hearts Up?”
I love singing my songs live! Live theater has always been one of my favorite things in the world so finally getting the chance to perform my own music in front of my fans and friends is beyond exciting. And seeing everyone make little hearts with their hands when I sing “Put your hearts up” almost makes me cry every time. Every. Single. Time.

What can we expect your debut album to sound like? And when can we expect it to release?
I’ve worked really hard to find my own sound! It’s kind of du wop and old school and poppy and contemporary and soulful and dancy all at the same time. [laughs] I don’t know how to describe it but I love it with all my heart and hope everyone enjoys it when it comes out! We’ve put a lot of hard work into it and I really think it’s paying off. Very grateful to have worked with such talented writers and producers. I feel really blessed to have shared my first album experience with real, true musicians who are genuinely nice people! Shout out to Matt Squire. You’re everythannng.

Go buy “Put Your Hearts Up” on iTunes now!

Ariana Grande Twitter backgrounds can be found here:

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Nancy Hoang created Hopeless Thunder in 2007. She conducts the interviews, writes the articles, photographs the concerts, and handles the site's coding & design. (She's basically a control freak.) Her work can also be seen on music publication, CMJ. Contact Nancy for image licensing, assignments, or just to say hi.

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