Breaking open ‘The Bronze Age’ with ARDN…

In music, each beat tells a story, and every note unveils ever-evolving symphonies. This is precisely what you can observe when you look at ARDN, the Canadian-raised Burundi singer/songwriter whose melodic raps and creative prowess have garnered him comparisons to goated artists like Smino and J.Cole within a very short space of time.

Photographed by Neri

It’s a brisk evening in early winter, nestled in the hazy warmth of the Dumbo House library room ARDN is leaning back in a plush chair, detailing the earliest points of his musical infatuation, “At eight years old, I wrote my first song in my room. I still remember what it was called; it was called ‘Allergic To You,’ and it wasn’t a rap song at all; it was almost like rock.” I probe what it was he was allergic to, and he quips that it was most likely homework. The song itself was the first spark of his interest. Years went by, and his curiosity expanded to encompass instruments. “At some point around 13, I was very jittery, always tapping on everything. I wanted to pick up the drums. So I got a drum teacher and took drum lessons for about 3 months.” Though the drums were a short-lived experience, by the time he was 15, ARDN had ordered a guitar from Amazon and was teaching himself by playing covers of well-known artists. “I’m not gonna lie, YouTube University is the best. 100%.” One thing that becomes distinctly clear during our conversation is that ARDN is a pinnacle example of the ability to start a journey on your terms.

ARDN explains that the loss of his father at the age of fourteen had a big impact on his choice to follow music as a creative outlet, “When I was 14, I wanted to do something to honour my dad’s legacy. I found music; I was like, this is it. That’s what it’s gonna be.” We discuss an anecdote from KRS-One that whenever we lose somebody close to us, it’s because we’re about to start an important journey, and we need help from the other side, which seems to resonate quite deeply with him as pick apart how he resembles his parents. “My mom is a very small woman, very tiny, but she’s so ferocious and so confident. I’ve gotten that confidence from my mom.” Talking about his father, he mentions, “He was very level-headed, very calm. I feel like I kind of took that quality from him. I have that serenity.” It’s not hard to see both of these coming through in the music he makes and he explains that moving into music was a natural decision to make. “I kind of realised I needed a creative outlet to express myself. So I just started writing. I would scour SoundCloud for beats and start writing off old hip-hop beats. It started becoming more than a hobby.”

“I got some validation from one of my cousins. He was like, ‘I could see potential in this. You could go somewhere with this.’ That gave me the confidence I needed. I ordered my first mic and started recording my music.” For many, music is a mysterious external force where an artist acts as a conduit more than a source. I ask how his process works when putting music together, “I hear the beat… It’s the first thing you think of, and I just start to feel something. I just feel a melody. It’s straight emotion, straight feeling, like the most natural thing that came out of you.” For him, the process of refinement that follows tends to be fairly simple, “The first thing you think of, generally, on a song, is what the song becomes.”

For someone who finds the process of creating quite so natural, you would wonder whether performing also lends itself with ease. “Me and the guys every show we’re like let’s say a little prayer before the show. If I’m feeling down or I’m nervous, I’ll watch YouTube videos of my favourites or legends just killing it.” He explains that he draws a lot of inspiration from his favourite artists, and it’s worked for him. From signing with Capitol Records to joining Isaiah Rashad as an opening act for his world tour, last month he even dropped a highly anticipated song ‘SHINE’ graced by a feature from Inglewood icon SiR.

With so many exceptional achievements and two albums firmly under his wings, ARDN is standing on the precipice of releasing his third and potentially most prolific album to date, ‘The Bronze Age.’ Breaking open the album, he states, “I was working on this music, and I couldn’t figure out a name. I wanted to do something with bronze because I know bronze translates to Arden, a Hebrew baby boy’s name. I came across the Bronze Age and I want to have that same type of impact, like a shift or revolution in music. The Bronze Age is a period of time, and so I wanted to use that as a metaphor for my career. The Bronze Age is the ARDN Age.” The album is heavily laden with symbolism woven together through the layers of his own heritage and upbringing, “There’s also a lot of biblical parallels as well with the symbolism of bronze. It represents healing, and that connected with me, obviously going through trauma and going through grief and loss then having to heal from that.” It’s clear ARDN has something special to share with the world, yet he remains humble and focused on his desire to hone his craft. “You are always going to see the flaws in what you make. And other people will see the gems.” Watching his journey from a childhood room where melodies took root to a global stage, sometimes it’s hard to see anything but gems, but we’ll take his word for it.