ARNO FARAJI & MILAN RING: BEHIND THE COLLABORATION THAT BIRTHED ‘SCALIN’
Words by Christopher Kevin Au // Photography by Chris Loutfy
Residing on opposite ends of the country, Arno Faraji & Milan Ring are two of the most exciting acts to surface on our radars in recent years. Over in Perth, young gun Arno has been steadily earning himself a reputation as one of the country's most vibrant rap acts, with his single 'Destiny's’ recently surpassing 1 million streams. He's been spreading the word on a sold-out national tour with Kwame, and will hit the road again with Cosmo's Midnight in May. In our own backyard of Sydney, Milan Ring too has been impressing with one of our favourite live shows: Beats, guitars and vocals are all executed in expert fashion onstage, bringing her slow-motion sounds to life. She'll also be touring her own headline shows this month, joined by the likes of Kobie Dee and Glo & Mohi.
But before their respective trips around Australia, Arno Faraji has just dropped his track 'Scalin', co-produced by Milan Ring. Given their mutual appreciation for the more melodic, soulful elements of hip-hop and R&B, it's a collaboration that looks great on paper, and one that sounds even better when it's coming out of your speakers on a Sunday afternoon. With Arno's previous exploration of all things electronic, 'Scalin' sees him rap effortlessly over Milan's more organic production, driven by a breezy guitar riff and bass that hops playfully across the three minutes. It's a track that commands hip-swinging in the slickest manner possible, and one that's sure to resonate greatly with fans of both camps.
Incredibly, 'Scalin' is the result of the first meeting between the two artists. Arno & Milan didn't have as much as an email chain between them before they linked up for a session at the latter's studio in Marrickville in Sydney's Inner-West, which was set up by their management team, Astral People. "Literally, it was the first time. That's how crazy it is, because it's such good music from the first encounter," Arno says. "I feel like because Tom and Vic [of Astral People] trusted Milan, I should trust Milan. When I got there, I didn't really have any expectations of how the music would go, I was just guessing that it was gonna be good."
Milan echoes those sentiments on collaboration; "I think it's important to walk in to a session, regardless of whether it's your studio or someone else's studio, without expectations. Keeping it fresh. I listened to some of your music, but I've really tried to push that out of my mind, especially after speaking to you and speaking about all the music you're listening to. It seemed like we could just make something fresh, we didn't have to think about your back catalogue or anything of mine."
From there, Arno played Milan some reference tracks, but one stuck in particular: 'Fungus' by tru. "He has this really dope bass riff, and then we made our own bass riff based off our own vibe, but inspired by it. Then it just went in its own direction," Arno says. The two then began testing out everything in sight in Milan's studio: Synths, guitars, bass, drum machines and a host of her other musical toys. "What I like to do when working with someone new is just to jam and see what energy comes. I remember handing you the Delta A80 drum machine, and I was just like, 'Tap out a beat!'," Milan says. "I jumped on the bass, and we basically just jammed. That exact beat on the track is the one that you played. You sent it through and I started working out that bass groove, and that was basically that main glue of the song. Then we started to add in bits."
If anything, the story of 'Scalin' tells us how important natural chemistry and mutual understanding is when undergoing a collaboration. "The good thing is that Arno knows what he likes and he's a producer. We just had the work flow that we could literally jump around the studio, both of us hitting things, Arno on keys and whatever," Milan says. "Basically being playful and making this song; it was fun, it was easy."
After that first session, they spent another day tidying 'Scalin' up before it was finished, and as Milan says, "the best songs and strongest songs, they happen quickly, they don't take months to happen." Lyrically, Arno says that the song aims to inspire people to follow their natural talents; "It's like a life calling, if you will. Are you gonna do the things you wanna do with your life, or are you just gonna do everything else just because everybody else is doing it?" The theme of the song is all to fitting for Arno & Milan themselves, both of whom continue to reach new musical and creative heights in 2019. After our interview, the two are headed back to Milan's studio for their second session, and if 'Scalin' is anything to go by, we're in for a treat.