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Queen Creek's Ariel Montano shares healing journey through music

Local high school student releases new song featuring a former Eminem signee.

Attending Heritage Gateway Academy in Queen Creek, Ariel Montano has been making a name for himself in the music industry. As a music producer and songwriter, he released his newest song, “For You,” March 15. The song features Swifty McVay, a former Eminem signee. 

“For You,” dives into the difficulties Montano has faced while making music. Whether it’s dealing with others or his own self-doubt, Montano knows that no matter what happens, he’ll be able to pick himself up. The song is available on both Apple Music and Spotify. Search “It’s Just AL,” to find all his music.

His musical journey is heavily intertwined with his personal healing journey through grief. When Montano was only 12, his mother was diagnosed with vasculitis. Month after month he had to sit by and watch as his mother grew weaker and weaker. 

For four years following his mothers passing in June 2018, Montano grieved in silence, unable to find an outlet for the pain. This all changed when he heard “Mockingbird” by Eminem for the first time. Music became his outlet. 

From that day on, Montano fell in love with the emotional side of music. Taking inspiration from his favorite artists, he created his very own style. He dove head first into his music, healing journey, all while being self taught.

Montano describes his music as pop infused with rap, tied together with a message and story. Artists that influence him include Eminem, Kanye West, D12, Seth Bishop and G-Eazy, just to name a few.

“Songs like ‘Beautiful,’ ‘Legacy’ and ‘Hailie’s Song’ by Eminem are all sad songs, but are pretty in their own way,” said Montano. “It’s that feeling in your chest that makes you feel that you’re not alone.”

He wanted to be able to express himself through his lyrics by sitting down with a pen and piece of paper, like his role models had before him.

“By doing this I was able to get a sense of pride in what I did and eventually I became proud of myself in doing so,” Montano said. “It was a feeling that I had missed.”

Now, at 17, he’s accomplished feats that many kids his age could only dream of. From working with Eminem signee, Swifty McVay, to earning the respect of engineers at Saltmine Studios, Montano's only looking up. 

It’s these sad, yet beautiful songs that hold so much meaning that have helped him cope.

“I felt like my emotions could go somewhere and belong in a place that was fitting,” Montano shared. To this day he still goes back to those same songs for comfort in his pain and grief.

Growing up, Montano had taken a few piano lessons and his sister played the violin. She brought up the idea that together they should play “Hallelujah” for their mother at her funeral, but he wasn’t able to get the song ready and memorized in time. That spring break his older brother gave him the task of learning the song. 

“Each time having performed the song I would change a note or a segment to something I envisioned the song should be. It was these little changes to the song that made me realize that I enjoy making music,” Montano said. “One of the biggest things that I wished I had when my mom died was to not feel alone in my emotions… That’s why my songs are filled with emotion and positive messages like self-belief, resilience and perseverance, so that no one has to deal with emotions like regret, sadness and anger on their own.”

There is always hope. That is what Montano wants you to take away from his newest song, “For You.” In the last line of the song McVay says, “I never complained about the tough times, because after the rain, comes the sunshine.” The song is about the importance of believing in yourself.

In his struggle to believe in himself, Montano decided to write about his challenges.

“In the lines of ‘there is a voice inside my mind. It tells me what I am, tells me what I can’t. Make it out. I can, I can make it out,’ [it shows] that having that be one of my biggest challenges, never being confident in what I made, is actually what I used to overcome that same fear by writing about it,” Montano explained. “One of my biggest challenges became one of my biggest successes.”

Adding that he'd like to thank his aunt, uncle and brother for emotionally supporting him along the way, Montano said he's also thankful to his friends Andrew Yonce, Jacob Catlin and Mckenna Barton, along with Ondre Moore/McVay for doing the verse, and Hunter Nurse. 

As Montano says, never stop believing in yourself, “no matter what others may say, all that matters is that you keep going and never stop.”

For more information about Montano, visit his website. To listen to his music on Apple Music click here and to listen on Spotify, click here.