In an effort to boost their viewership, and bring back the die-hard nineties kids of the golden age of TV-Y7 rated television programming, Disney Channel has created a spinoff of the beloved trilogy “Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century.” In it, our stellar heroine Zenon makes the heart of reigning pop star of the future Proto Zoa go zoom zoom, and then they boom boom, and then, lo and behold, their lovechild: QUALIATIK. Paired with ethereal vocals, galactic visuals, and spacey sounds, Arielle Herman- the embodiment of QUALIATIK- offers out-of-wordly/otherworldly experiences to our campus and beyond. Although her bewitching voice had already surfaced onto our planet via the a capella group Counterpoint, it has been making supersonic waves ever since her first gig performing as QUALIATIK, which occurred just a little under a year ago. In that time, Arielle has managed to show off her glittery creations on multiple media outlets, in multiple venues, and now with her latest undertaking of an upcoming exhibition at Haverford (thanks to the E. Clyde Lutton Performing Arts Fund), Arielle is proving to us that her QUALIATIK is only just beginning to burst. Here’s the Milky Way/apartment resident herself:

1)   Are you the Stephanie Germanotta behind the stage name Lady Gaga, or are you a wholehearted, 100% Cher? In other words: Is QUALIATIK an alter ego that is released when you perform, or just a title that sounds edgier than Arielle?

For me, QUALIATIK is a super personal project, so I guess I would be more on the Cher side? Being aware that I have to think about image and stuff does make me have to think about what parts of myself would be best expressed through QUALIATIK, but above all, it’s a project to help me understand myself, so it has to be totally genuine. An “alter ego” of sorts definitely does come out when I’m on stage, but I think that it’s less of an alter ego and more of just a part of personality that can’t be communicated verbally in conversation, and has to come out through musical performance.

2) Speaking of QUALIATIK, how did you come up with that?The root of “qualiatik” is the word “qualia”, which is a word I’ve connected with for a while, and it just kind of randomly morphed into “qualiatik” when I needed a username for this really awesome website called New Hive. Qualia refers, in fancy words, to the “phenomenological quality of subjective experience.” A basic example of qualia is the color red. When we were young, we were all shown this one specific color and told that it was red, but we really have no way of knowing if everyone “sees” red the same way. Neuroscience can look at how “red” works in the brain, but it still doesn’t show us any subjective experience other than our own. I find that really cool, especially because music and art are so subjective. It’s exciting to me that everyone who hears a specific song might have their own unique experience of it.

3)  Where did all of this emerge from? Did you always dream of experimenting and producing your own music? 

When I was a kid, I would turn off my light and watch trippy music visualizers and kind of get lost in trance music. My dad showed me a lot of cool progressive rock music (King Crimson, Pink Floyd, Yes, Genesis), so at a young age, I felt very inspired by the way those bands used synths and how complex their music is. I wrote some highly angsty, (and very terrible), guitar songs when I was in eighth and ninth grade, but it didn’t feel like the right outlet for me. I was never a theater kid, but I would always belt my lungs out, and poorly reenact dramatic songs from musical theater shows whenever I was alone in my house. I like the emotional intensity of performing like that. I ordered my first gear the end of last November, when I sort of randomly felt an uncontrollable urge to start producing and performing. I opened GarageBand for the first time when winter break rolled around, and threw myself into it (now I’m working with Ableton). When I started exploring the process of making music, it felt like something that had been waiting for years to happen finally happened. It was like a big sigh of relief from somewhere inside of me, like, “Yes, this is right”.

4)  Besides putting on a ton of glitter and funky shoes, what are the best parts about performing as QUALIATIK?
Haha, playing dress-up is one of the best parts of it for sure. I think the very best part of performing live is being able to express myself in a way that’s really raw and unfiltered. Because I am usually withdrawn and internalized (even if it might not seem like it), performing gives me a chance to break down the walls and kind of just let it all explode. I’m always on a high for a few days after a performance, and I always leave one performance wanting to go hop in a car, and drive to the next one. It’s also really fun to get free beer and food at shows, so there’s that.

5)  In what ways has being at Haverford College fostered your budding musical career? In what ways has being a Haverfordian empowered you as a female musician? 

Haverford is an awesome place to be an unnecessarily ambitious and overly eager person, because there are so many opportunities available, and so many people who want to see you succeed. There are incredible grant programs that larger schools (or even a school that has more than 1,200 undergrads—so most schools) might not be able to provide to just one student. Also, a place like Haverford, where everyone is so intellectual, makes the perfect growing environment for a project like QUALIATIK, which feels equally as focused on abstract concepts as it does on just making stuff that looks and sounds cool. In terms of being a female musician, I’ve heard it’s a rough world out there for females trying to break into producing, but I have experienced exactly zero sexism about music here at Haverford, so I’ve been lucky to have had the space to grow musically without being stunted by expectations (or rather, non-expectations).

6) Describe your creative process. Be creative.Physically/emotionally, my creative process is pretty intense and probably not very healthy. I’ll start by saying that most people who know me know that I have some of the worst imaginable sleeping habits—I’ve been known to stay awake for multiple days in a row, and my regular bedtime has been between 4 AM and 7:30 AM for years. I have also been known to lock myself into isolation for periods of time, as I did last winter break, when I spent a month in my basement and worked for like 12 hours a day and slept only a few hours each night. I weakened myself so much that when I emerged at the end of the month, standing up and even turning my head quickly made me dizzy and made my vision go hazy. When I’m at school, it’s a lot more difficult to work for 12 hours straight (obvs), so I’ve found it useful to kind of pull out my laptop wherever I am (in the DC, on the Blue Bus, between classes) and get sucked into it for even short periods of time. I actually think this is probably more productive, because then I have time to process what I’ve done in between bursts of working, and I know I have to be really productive each time I open my laptop because I only have a short amount of time to work.

In terms of the method, my creative process is really analytical. It might have to do with the fact that I’m a science student and so used to a scientific approach. I have folders and folders of images or screenshots of things that resonate with me in one way or another all grouped together in weirdly specific ways, and I have a tendency to outline lots of broad ideas in order to categorize them and understand how they interrelate. I have multiple Tumblrs where I collect different kinds of images, and I have a journal that I use to map out internal conflicts as they’re happening in like really big unnecessarily meticulous bubble letters with lots of arrows pointing the streams of thought one way or another. I haven’t quite figured out what the deal is with that yet, but I’ll assume it helps with the creative process. Having something to procrastinate on has also proven to be beneficial to my creative process—working under anxiety, more broadly, I suppose. The “feng-shui” or w.e of the environment in which I set up my “creative space” is also very important to me. Also the presence of junk food. Lots and lots of junk food.

7) What are your next moves? Any albums? Concerts? Shamelessly self-promote, please. 
Right now, I’ve just been focusing on the grant project I’m working on, but I’m likely going to play a show or two at Haverford in the next few months, and probably Haverfest again! Maybe some more Philly shows too, we’ll see what happens. I’m also hoping to play a show in Brooklyn sometime, as I have a few musician friends there who have made that offer to me. I released a little three-song bundle in December, which people ended up interpreting as an EP. It was not intended to be an EP though, cuz those were my first three attempts at Ableton and essentially involved me sitting behind my computer screen for three months teaching myself stuff, and then teaching myself what I could about mixing in just a few weeks, and finally getting the songs out there so I stopped obsessively tweaking the mixes. As of right now, I don’t think I’m ready to release an EP, but I hope to do so at some point! I also plan on making a music video for at least one of the songs in that bundle. I’ll be posting updates about shows and releases on my facebook page, so if you’re reading this, feel free to “like” the page so you can stay up-to-date with my !!exciting life!!. You won’t even be able to tell that I spend 99.5% of my time sitting at a desk funneling lucky charms into my mouth and staring at a computer screen!

8) Can you divulge a secret or two from your upcoming exhibition at Haverford? 
You get to come be a mad scientist, and play around with people’s brainwaves while watching trippy visuals and listening to cool (hopefully cool) music. And there will be free wine ;).


Ready to immerse yourself in a subjectively awesome stream of notes and beats, and join Arielle’s legion of rock fairy princesses with Furby obsessions? If that answer is a resounding yes, then listen up here: