Aug 19, 2012

The Meaning of Believing: an Interview with Aaron English

Written by BMJ on 25 July 2011

(Co-Editor’s Note: Recently, I had the distinguished opportunity to step out of my comfort zone and interview singer-songwriter Aaron English. Aaron is a singer-songwriter that is currently residing in Hawaii. His music is for fans of Paul Simon, The Beatles, Mat Kearney, and Jim Croce. He possesses poetic lyrics, soulful voice, and he loves honing his craft to make music that’s everlasting to the listener’s soul and ears. He was gracious enough to take the time with me to interview with him. You can find him on his official website, where you can stream all three albums that he’s made and find the latest news and information. Also, you can check him out at his fanpage on Facebook here, and make sure that you hit that “like” button. Without further delay, here’s my interview with a very talented musician, Aaron English)

BMJ: How is it in Hawaii so far?

Aaron- Lovely.

BMJ- I’m pretty jealous of you right now, because I’ve never been there. I saw that you perform songs in concert from “Jesus Christ Superstar”, are you doing that in Honolulu?

Aaron- In Seattle actually.

BMJ- What inspired you to perform those songs?

Aaron- The context is actually, is from church, and a whole circuit of churches nationwide, Unity churches, actually they’ve been a great resource and a great opportunity for songwriters and musicians to tour, and to play original material. Unity churches have been great here in Hawaii as well, and in this case, Seattle put on Jesus Christ Superstar at the Center for Spiritual Living out in Seattle, I had a chance to perform that and original material in front of 1,500 people.

BMJ- About 1,500 people in attendance?

Aaron- Yeah, Yeah.

BMJ- You plan on doing multiple shows or just this show?

Aaron- Just the one, I’ve done it for three years now, hadn’t had any contact with the church before that, I was referred by another singer-songwriter.

BMJ- Very nice. What brings you to Hawaii?

Aaron- I’m living in Hawaii, it’s an adventure, there wasn’t any concrete reason other, than “hey, this would be interesting”.

BMJ- How is the music scene in Hawaii?

Aaron- It’s good, obviously it’s limited, it can only fit so much in demand for music, but if one does reggae, rap, or island music, there would be more in demand. Actually, Hawaii has been really good to my music, even before I thought about moving here. The people here have been really supportive, and I toured here(Hawaii) last year.

BMJ- Could you give a background of your music, who you are and what you do?

Aaron- Well, where do I draw the line?(chuckles) I’m Aaron English, a touring songwriter since 2003. I toured with a ‘60’s and 70’s band and now the Aaron English Band since 2003, toured solo since I got to Hawaii, same songs, but just me and a piano.
BMJ- I saw that you have a song on the Patagonia Project, I saw that it was prominent in your website when I was doing research for this interview, can you tell me the importance of being a part of this project?

Aaron- Like I did with the Unity churches earlier, I was looking for collaboration with other musicians, and Patagonia is an outdoor clothing company, and they now have a music brand. It’s tied into an environmental advocacy program. It includes artists like The Civil Wars, and we released a track to the Patagonia Project that you can’t get anywhere else, and the proceeds would go to benefit the environment. It also worked on other things like benefits, festivals, and other special shows, sort of like what a record label would do, except it’s non-profit.

BMJ- Is there any talks with you performing at the Patagonia Festival?

Aaron- It’s preliminary.

BMJ- I saw that your music was on a television show called “Bones”, can you tell us about that?

Aaron- It wasn’t a placement, it was a shout-out on the show, but it wasn’t actually played. It was a scene of a character giving another character a mixed cd, just after they broke up. It was a mixed cd of breakup songs. On the show, it had Jack Johnson and a bunch of indie-pop, indie-rock artists, and I was one of those artists. If it was a television placement you get paid for it, but on a shout-out, they don’t pay you, but I don’t mind at all.

BMJ- Did you receive a lot of promotion from the shout-out on “Bones”?

Aaron- Yeah, yeah. Millions of people got to see that episode.

BMJ- A song that I really like that you did is “Believe”. I like deep, thoughtful meaning in songs, what message are you trying to convey in that song?

Aaron- Well, believe is the only thing that you have left. The verses talk about how it can be really hard to trust in anything, so belief becomes even more important and when things get really dire, you can hold onto believing in yourself, believing in each other. I thought it was appropriate in the last couple of years, especially in U.S. politics, the economy, and wars going on. It’s sort of a grim look at it, and you can still believe.

BMJ- We do live in a grim time. Is it meant to be a political song or is it interpreted that way?

Aaron- It wasn’t meant to be political. Generally, in my writing, I tend to keep it more open-ended, whether it’s political, whether it’s religious, or whether it’s personal. 

BMJ- I also saw that you did a medley on Norwegian Wood/Kashmir, how did that come about?

Aaron- We have been playing those songs live for years, since the first tour in 2003, and I finally decided to record a version in the studio, and the guitarist was savvy enough to suggest that we shoot a video. YouTube became more and more popular, so it turned out to be a really great idea. The recording has been really popular, and the video has been popular as well.

BMJ- Who are your influences?

Aaron- Sure, I’m always curious what other people hear in the songs. The influences are a lot of world music influences.

BMJ- I noticed also that there were some Led Zeppelin influences, when they break out their folk/bluegrass influences in music.

Aaron- Yeah, Led Zeppelin draws on middle eastern and celtic music. I love both. I draw on world music, other influences include Sting, I love drawing in music from other cultures.

BMJ- What’s your favorite style of music to work with?

Aaron- I think the Celtic and Middle-Eastern music I enjoy a lot. I love working with musicians from different cultures. If I meet someone who has a musical perspective that I have a chance to work with, and it’ll give me a chance to try out a new musical language so to speak.

BMJ- So tell me about the music, television, and film event that you got to perform in?

Aaron- It was right in Nashville, Tennessee, and recently I was there, playing at a film, tv, and artist retreat. People flew in from Los Angeles and New York as well, and it’s people that place music in TV shows, films, and commercials, and there were other artists performing, hanging out and writing songs together. 

BMJ- So you made a lot of good connections and everything?

Aaron- Yeah, definitely.

BMJ- Any future projects that you see from that?

Aaron- It’s too early to tell, I got some interest, so that’s a great start. It’s all about following up.


BMJ- Where can we find your music?


BMJ- Thank you very much for your time.

Aaron- Thank you for having me.

Check out the Aaron English Band’s medley cover of Norwegian Wood/Kashmir, originally done by The Beatles and Led Zeppelin, below.