Q&A: Tampa songwriter Ari Chi talks 'Sea Foam', upcoming Color Fool album release

PCCA and Gibbs High alumni Ari Chi chats with us about her upcoming album Color Fool, album release show at The Attic.

click to enlarge Ari Chi, who plays Anise Global Gastrobar on June 5, 2017. - Michael Esser
Michael Esser
Ari Chi, who plays Anise Global Gastrobar on June 5, 2017.

Isn't it nice?

This is a question we find ourselves repeating along with the soulfully talented Ari Chi on her new song "Seafoam." The song, which serves as a single for an upcoming album, is a great showcase of the artist's breathtaking vocal presence and ukulele skills, which effectively complement each other over the dreamy production. The accompanying video is equally as intriguing, as it follows a trippy first person account of Ari Chi's day. The borderline psychedelic nature of the video echoes the way in which it was written, which was "the day after [her] first and last time doing psychedelics."

When we last talked to the self-taught ukulele virtuoso back in March, she was preparing for her upcoming Gasparella Music Festival gig and gave us a look into how she got her start, but now she's gearing up for her debut LP Color Fool (due June 6).  

We were able to talk a bit more with the talented graduate of the Pinellas County Center for the Arts  about the making of the album and her songwriting process, which she takes largely from her own life. "Most of my songs are stories about others mixed with bits and pieces of my reality," Chi, 23, said. "but this one is an experience that I've gone through."

Look for an album premiere here in the coming days if you plan on attending the album release show on June 9 at The Attic at Rock Brothers Brewing. Can't make it because of the kids? Bring them! The show is kid friendly (free entry too) and is an event that will be fun for the family to experience together, with painting, Color Fool merchandise and of course a live performance of the album by Ari Chi. If you need more Ari Chi in your life sooner, then her out at Wine & Rhyme on June 5.

Visit local.cltampa.com to get info on both shows. Check out the full Q&A and watch "Seafoam" below.


Wine & Rhyme w/Ari Chi
Mon. June 5, 9 p.m. No Cover.
Anise Global Gastrobar, 777, N. Ashley Dr., Tampa.

We talked about some romantic interests influencing your songwriting lately, and if someone wrote this song about my relationship I would melt. Can you talk about the inspiration for this one?

This song is one of my favorites simply because it's non fiction. Most of my songs are stories about others mixed with bits and pieces of my reality, but this one is an experience that I've gone through. In December of 2015, I let my guard down and let nature take me to a place I've never been before. It was magical and life changing and I haven't gone back but I still carry a piece of it in my heart so I can still go there if I need to. December also happened to be when Brodie and I decided we were officially gonna be together, so I definitely was infatuated with feeling. I still am.

You hit quite a lot of spots and put some cool Bay area artists on film in this clip (I saw Ybor CIty sushi house, Lot 1901, Cass Contemporary, Crowbar, Proper Jones, Wally Clark, Mateo, to name a few). Why’d you take this angle on it?

I wanted the video to be a portal into a day in the life of "Ari Chi". Although it took a couple months to get every piece of footage I needed for this video, a lot of my days/nights are jammed packed with events like these. I think that people need to know how cool the Bay Area really is.

The album comes out June 6. Can you talk about Wine & Rhyme on the 5th and the release show at The Attic on June 9?

I'm performing at Wine & Rhyme for the first time in over a year. It's been so long and so many new faces come out and party, so I thought it'd be a perfect kick off for Color Fool since my listening party is a few days after the release. At W&R I'll have a merch table set up with hats, keychains, stickers, and shirts. At midnight I'll break out the hard copies of the album and they'll officially be for sale!

Color Fool the Experience is a kid friendly event I've put together for people who want to know what it means to be a Color Fool. $15 dollars will get you a hard copy of the album, a keychain, a sticker, and a canvas & paint to enjoy while I depict and perform the album live. Wally Clark will be on the 1's and two's vibing out while I mingle. Kids get in free and if people wear their Color Fool hats, entry is reduced to $10. Beer, wine, coffee and tea will be served at the bar. Last but not least I'll be holding a private viewing of one of my unreleased videos. I can't wait to turn you all into Color Fools.

You got some help with other instruments on this song. Can you talk about what Arthur Bogalis, Chris Martinez and Troy Cedeño brought to this track in particular and ColorFool at large?

Color Fool wouldn't be what it is without Troy Cedeño. A mutual contact linked us up a little less than two years ago. Originally it was to work on some hit singles but eventually all of my material started sounding cohesive and they all had an artistic colorful theme. We decided to make an album about 13 or 14 months ago and the wait was worth it. He produced around all of my ukulele songs and brought them to life. I also recorded all of my vocals with him at The C-Lab and it was the best recording experience to date.As for Seafoam, I asked Chris Martinez to join me since we've been jamming for a while now and he killed it! When Troy Listened to what we came up with, he said all it needed was bass, and that's where Arthur came in and blessed the song with amazing instrumentation. I could not be more happy with the end result, it's my personal favorite song of mine to date.

Lastly, obviously this song has a lot of reference to colors. Can you talk about how that theme weaves itself into the fabric of this album? Nine tracks, right?

Since i moved to Tampa I've been surrounded by artists and musicians and being Brodie is an amazing artist, there was a lot of inspiration there. I've always appreciated colors but after December 2015, I was completely in awe by the fact that color is life. Colors express emotion and I don't think that enough people sing about that, so I chose to be the one to start. Hopefully Color Fool sticks to people's hearts because it's not going anywhere, it's a brand now.


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LJ Hilberath

Franz “LJ” Hilberath is a Clearwater-native who contributes to Creative Loafing's Music section. He previously served as an intern and is now a freelance contributor for all things music.LJ can be found in the field reviewing concerts and music festivals around the country, and also works interviews for both local...
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