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Getting in the moment with Ron Artis II and The Truth

The Hawaii-based musician and his band will be hitting the Olympic Plaza stage Aug. 4 as part of the Whistler Summer Concert Series 
Ron Artis II
Ron Artis II waves to the audience after a performance with his band The Truth.

Even if he didn’t realize it at the time, Hawaii-based musician Ron Artis II describes receiving a second-hand guitar and amp from his parents for his 13th birthday as “pivotal” to his future career.

With both his parents being musicians, Artis II had already shown plenty of musical talent early in life, but up until that point, the only instrument he played was piano. Branching out from the only instrument he knew, and spending all of his waking hours finding his way around his new guitar represented an entirely new way to express himself. 

“The way I express myself through a piano or keyboard, it’s this really emotional kind of sensitive space for me, and it’s all melody first. How I approach or connect to the piano is through melodies and harmonies,” says Artis. “And once I got into the guitar, it was always a feeling more so than trying to find a melody and harmony all the time. It is mostly a feeling that wants to be expressed on the guitar. And it was intimidating when it first started, but I was kind of intoxicated with this instrument;  it really took me to a place that I didn’t know existed.”

Over the years, as Artis has continued to evolve as an artist, both those instruments and the specific emotional responses they evoke have remained key elements of his sound. But despite the lyric-forward, blues-tinged soul he loosely categorizes his own music under, when it comes to what he listens to and is inspired by personally, his tastes are more “all over the place.”

“The only consistency in the music that I listen to is I love to listen to musicians where you can feel their conviction, you can taste it. They’re doing something they love doing so much that they couldn’t imagine life without doing it,” says Artis. 

“There are a lot of musicians out there that do it for the business or do it for the fame or do it because they can, but there’s just something special about listening to an artist who is in love with what they’re doing. There’s so much acting in this world. So much pretending and I think it’s rare to find someone who’s authentically in that emotional space.”

Every time Artis steps on stage he wants his audience to feel the same emotion and authenticity that he feels when listening to some of his favourite artists, like Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye and James Brown, among others.

And while many of his songs, like “Loving You”—which challenges the listener to find a way to connect to someone with opposing views—and “No Weight”—which is about helping people through their darkest times—play on the themes of love and lifting people up, Artis wants to create an intimate moment between him and his audience, where nothing else exists except for the music, the audience and the message. 

“I try my best to be in the moment. Right there in this moment,” he says. “For people who have decided to take time out of their lives to experience it, I never want to get to a spot where I take that for granted. It’s a really special experience, and I’m really looking forward to sharing what we’ve been working on when we get to Whistler.”

Artis and his band The Truth—a trio consisting of himself, drummer Jarod Manis and bassist Ernie Ecraela Jr.—will be hitting the  Olympic Plaza stage on Thursday, Aug. 4 at 7:30 p.m. as part of the free Whistler Summer Concert Series. DJ PRAiZ gets things going with a DJ set at 6:30 p.m. 

And when asked what people in the audience can expect from the show, he replies: “Man, I hope they bring their dancing shoes. And I hope they leave the concert with a feeling of love and an excitement about life.”