Arno Faraji on winning triple j’s Unearthed High

17-year-old producer and rapper Arno Faraji was taken aback at the sight of triple j brekkie duo Ben & Liam at his Shenton College high school in Perth yesterday.

The boys weren’t there to talk about their radio show or why it’s important to stay in school. Hidden away under the bleachers during a suspiciously staged school assembly, Ben & Liam emerged to crown Faraji as this year’s Unearthed High winner in front of school friends and teachers.

Playing music since his Dad bought him his first guitar at age 11, Faraji made the shift to beatmaking and rapping five years later, inspired by the works of Chance The RapperTkay Maidza and Sampa The Great.  

TMN spoke to Faraji about his win, triple j’s pivotal role in launching his career, and the difficulty of navigating the live scene as an adolescent artist.

How instrumental has triple j been in determining your career thus far?

triple j has honestly been the biggest plug in terms of my music – because of them I found my music reaching people and audiences I never thought I’d get the chance to reach so soon. I had my music circling around the nation and that’s so surreal to me.

It’s a foot in the door, for real, and I feel like the sky’s the limit in terms of what else I can hope to achieve.

Who’ve been some key figures that have helped you along the way?

I have a lot of people to thank for my progress like: my buddy Innocent, another Perth artist, who hooked up my start into music. He was the one who plugged me with the software to make beats in the first place and so without him, I might not be where I am or where I feel I’m headed.  

My mates in my media classes who’ve helped me with artwork and creative vision. And the triple j Unearthed team who’ve made me feel so welcomed and hyped. The amount of support I’ve had from them has been crazy. 

Any words for young and upcoming hip hop artists and producers wishing to follow in your footsteps?

Since I’m only just beginning I’d say it’s cool to take your time learning about yourself, in terms of what you like and want to do, and on that note that it’s okay to try and experiment with weird sounds as long as you enjoy them.

In your opinion, does the industry provide enough opportunities for artists under 18 years of age?

Yeah, I feel in terms of releasing music and having a platform the industry can provide a lot of opportunities – look at Unearthed for example. I’m proof of that.

But I have noticed how difficult it can get to perform on certain stages based on the 18+ cap most of them have. So, in terms of releasing music there’s a lot of opportunities but performance-wise it’s a little harder to find the chance. 

What’s one big goal you want to achieve over the course of the next few years?

One of my goals would be to do a set of festivals in a row, like just traveling off my music and performing in front of PHAT crowds. I feel like that’ll always be hype to me.

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