Music is My Life: Episode 067
Arooj Aftab on ‘Vulture Prince,’ Grammy Noms, Genius.com, and Berklee
Arooj Aftab began getting notice with a viral cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” more than 15 years ago, but with two Grammy nominations for her third official studio album Vulture Prince, she has finally arrived (and quit her day job at Genius.com).
“That’s what we live for,” she says. “We have our day jobs, and then what we really want to do is put out music and make the music that will one day support us.”
Vulture Prince, which came out in 2021, is a stunning work that frequently reaches transcendence. In this wide-ranging interview, she discusses taking classes with Berklee Online, playing White Stripes covers, and the honor of being nominated in the “Best Global Music Performance” Grammy category, which is brand new this year.
“This realm that we’ve created is something that you don’t hear that often,” she says of her music.“It’s jazz, and it’s American folk, and it’s also just scratching the surface of pop, and it feels really good that we’ve arrived here, and it’s refreshing to have made music that isn’t really around that much. … This music is not ‘traditional,’ it is not ‘world,’ it is actually really personal to my experience of like, going to Berklee, living in New York, hanging out with whoever.”
She also discusses in depth how she composed some of her most poignant music, and the patient nature of the songs on Vulture Prince.
“That’s kind of my thing, to use negative space as an instrument itself, and to be unhurried and to kind of let the music feel like its own language, and the lyrics and the vocalist are not a songwriter type of sound.”
Note: The 64th Annual Grammy Awards are currently scheduled to take place on Sunday, April 3 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. When we first recorded this episode, the Grammys were scheduled for Monday, January 31. Then when the 64th Annual Grammy Awards were postponed indefinitely, we made edits to report this change in the audio portion of this episode, and that was the status of the Grammys upon this episode’s release.