New York alt-pop artist Petra Jarrar has created the music of her dreams with her new single “Past Life” and its self-reflective animated video. Written about an unexpected reconnection, the dance-inducing single resonates well with the graphics of the video as it depicts an animated Petra falling repeatedly through the universe and coming face-to-face with herself.
The track is an ode to the greats of 90’s and early 2000’s electronic pop, lyrically centered around unexpectedly connecting with a former love and the emotions that come with it. Produced by Alex Arias (Cher/Matchbox 20), the song gives a mix of polished pop flair and chaotic distortion, grasping like loud thoughts that keep ringing through your brain.
Coming from a Palestinian and Sri-Lankan ethnic background, she says she “never truly saw girls who looked like her in the spotlight”. She continually uses her platform and voice to pave the way for women of color, advocating for diversity, representation, and inclusion throughout the music industry.
She has performed all over the world, headlining shows in NYC at Knitting Factory and Webster Hall, Boston at Hard Rock Cafe, Los Angeles at The Mint, and overseas in Japan and China. She has also been an opener for acts like Drake Bell and Jake Miller on national tours and festivals.
Starting with “Past Life”, she is scheduled to release singles throughout 2020, which mark the beginning of a new era and partnership with veteran producer Alex Arias (Cher/Matchbox 20). Taking a complete 180 on her sound that was previously more acoustic, she is now exploring alternative and electronic pop as her mode of expression.
Watch the video for “Past Life”, and learn more about Petra Jarrar in an interview below!
Q: To start things out, how did you find your path into pursuing music? What sparked your interest from the beginning, and is there something (such as a message you want to get across) you hope to achieve through your music?
A: My journey in music began at a very young age. My older brother, Felix, is a pianist and composer and I followed closely in his footsteps because he was (and still is) my biggest musical inspiration. He would place my fingers on the piano keys and press them down to mimic the music he was learning. For several years, I was a classically trained pianist participating in music competitions all over the world. However, one day when I was about 6, I told my mother I wanted to do something different than my brother. So, she bought me a guitar and my own journey began. I loved writing poetry but never thought about combining my skills as a musician and writer. I wrote my first song at the age of 12, and proceeded to learn how to produce music and recorded hundreds of demos in my closet.
Growing up, I always felt like an outcast. I felt like no one understood me. I was able to express myself and my emotions through writing and music. It was my special way of communicating in a way everyone could resonate with easily. My goal with my music has always been to tell stories that help bring people together from all walks of life. As humans, we all experience love, heartache, joy, sadness and excitement, though our stories may be different. To share these emotions and be able to bring people together through music is truly humanizing and beautiful. There is no better feeling than someone telling you “I felt that” when listening to your music. I love being able to bring people together to celebrate life.
Q: Your new single is titled “Past Life”. Would you mind telling me about its meaning and the inspiration behind the writing?
A: “Past Life” is about unexpectedly reconnecting with a former lover. I saw my ex who I never thought I would see again. Our relationship ended abruptly without any warning, and I was left feeling lost in my own head, with so many feelings built up and countless things to say. When I went to see him again for the final time, all of the confusion about how the relationship ended was resolved. At that moment, I finally came to terms with the complex emotions that had bottled up inside me when we were apart. While I had so many scenarios in my head about how this could have gone, I knew we weren’t meant to be together. Though I knew it was time to move on, I won’t forget the love that we shared in a “Past Life”.
Q: This track is quite different from the acoustic sound listeners have previously heard from you. What sparked that change, and does it make releasing this single feel different from previous releases?
A: Releasing “Past Life” feels completely different than my other releases, because I finally allowed myself to create music that I only dreamed of making. When the COVID-19 Pandemic began, I felt so lost, anxious, and alone. Everything I knew in the world just completely came to a halt and I had no idea what to do with myself. Whenever I feel like life begins to spiral out of control, I turn to music. It’s my escape from the cruel realities that keep arising in the world. I began listening to all of my pop guilty pleasures, such as Cher, Britney Spears, Lady Gaga, Dua Lipa, Rina Sawayama, Charli XCX, CHVRCHES, and countless others. The one thing I wanted to do in this quarantine is dance and break free from being in my house. Since I couldn’t do that, I decided to create my own guilty pleasure pop club in my bedroom and kitchen pantry, which soon became my music studio. Also, because my band wasn’t around, I began experimenting with Logic and learning the DAW more. I had creative impulses to create electro/dance-pop music my whole life, but never took the leap. With a yearning to dance, and new skills I began to acquire, I decided to create music that sparked inspiration and joy during some of the hardest moments of quarantine.
Q: Accompanying the release of “Past Life” is its animated video. Would you mind telling me a bit about the story throughout the graphics? Is there any specific reason you chose to make it animated?
A: The video for “Past Life” tells the story of losing myself. In my most toxic relationships, I found that I would often lose sight of the most important parts of my being. I start slipping through the universe and battling myself through various trials and tribulations. Eventually, through some of the darkest and hardest moments, I find myself again, and the parts of me that went missing reconnect with my being. The video was created by Austere Visuals, featuring lead creative design by Natasha Brito (former SONY Music Creative Director). She is an incredible talent and took my visions to heart. I chose to create an animated music video because it was something I always wanted to do; being in quarantine gave me the complete advantage of attempting this project because I typically like to create immense storyline visuals to accompany my music. I felt like in this project, I got to be the star of my own animated short film.
Q: You worked with producer Alex Arias (Cher/Matchbox 20) on this single. Can you tell me a bit about what it was like working with him? What do you feel he brought to this track to make it what it is in its final form?
A: Working with Alex was a match made in heaven, and it happened completely out of the blue. He’s such a pro, and an exceptionally talented musician and producer. I knew in my head how I wanted the track to sound. He understood everything that I wanted — he took my ideas, went running with them, and made the song better than I could have imagined. I’m so thrilled and honored to be collaborating with someone like Alex. We’re already plotting the next tunes for this project.
Q: Looking forward, now that “Past Life” has been released, what comes next?
A: More music! I’ve been writing so much in quarantine, I am going to be releasing a few more singles throughout 2020, accompanied by live streaming shows. I am so excited and thrilled to be sharing my new sounds and era with the world.