Aug 18, 2012

Artist Spotlight: Aaron English

Posted on Monday, January 24, 2011 at 3:09PM

 

Chaotic Content is proud to feature Seattle-based piano man Aaron English, whose music and voice capture a beautiful range of emotions and story-telling. His music has been placed in the Fox TV drama “Bones”, and last year he released his latest independent album, “American [Fever] Dream” in June. Chaotic Content caught up with Aaron English to ask a few questions about his music, philosophy, and find out what the talented singer-songwriter has in the works in our exclusive interview.

Q: How did you get involved in music initially, and later as a career?

A: I know I’m not alone in this: I started singing and writing songs when I hit adolescence and I realized that girls dig pop and rock stars. Fortunately I found that I loved the music itself – otherwise I wouldn’t have stuck with it. By that point, I knew that a career as a singer and songwriter was what I wanted. It’s been a long upward climb ever since.

Q: Talk about your sound and how you arrived at it. Has your music evolved over the years?

A: My sound is world-beat-inspired piano rock. I play piano; that’s rare enough, so already it helps to distinguish my sound. And the musicians I’ve connected with over the years here in Seattle are deep into various varieties of world music – they’re either from other countries or they’re Americans who have deeply studied other traditions. So I often use an African rhythm, or a Middle Eastern mode, the melodic limitations of a particular folk instrument as the point of inspiration for writing a song. 

Q: Who are some of your biggest musical influences?

A: I’ve noticed recently that the aesthetic of Daniel Lanois’ productions sounds as fresh to me now as it did when I was a kid. When I think of the artists he’s best known for working with – U2, Peter Gabriel, Emmylou Harris – I think, yeah, that’s a musical world I’ve always been very happy to inhabit: part world-beat, part anthemic rock, part rusty Americana.

Q: What inspires you creatively and artistically? Describe your creative process.

A: I usually start with immersing myself in some chaotic situation, knowing that my brain will strive to make order and ‘sense’ out of it.

For example: I’ll walk into a cafe or store where music is playing, but I’ll only kind of hear the music because of all the foreground noise. My brain will fill in the blanks in what it hears…and, voila, I’ve got a new melody to work with. It’s the way our brains work – when they’re given incomplete information, they attempt to complete it. It’s a survival mechanism. In this case, it comes in quite handy for kick-starting my creative process.

(I imagine this is how fortune tellers work, by the way, when they search for patterns in a scattering of tea leaves or a draw of cards).

Brian Eno is known for creating games in the recording studio that inspire his artists to generate order out of chaos. My favorite is the famous “Oblique Strategies” deck of cards that he invented in the ‘70s.

Q: What is your proudest moment or greatest accomplishment as a musician? 

A: My most-recent victory is always the one I’m proudest of, because it represents my growth as a musician. I remember an interview with Paul Simon that I read in which someone asked him what his favorite Paul Simon song was and he said “the last one I wrote”.

Q: How do you prepare for your live performances? Do you have any rituals or techniques that help get you into that zone?

A: I’m still looking for something that’d leave me feeling grounded and get my voice warmed up before hitting the stage. Any suggestions? I certainly do notice the difference between playing a gig in that ‘zone’ and playing one all unbalanced after having sped through traffic to a gig, unloaded too much heavy gear, waited around in a smoky bar eating some greasy food, and struggled to get a good monitor mix in a too-brief sound check.

Q: What’s next for you?

A: I’m putting together a U.S. house concert tour for the fans to remind them what live music can be like. Live shows in taverns and clubs have become an alienating event: the venues are noisy and impersonal, there’s lots of smoke and a heavy emphasis on selling alcohol and watching football instead of listening to the music. House concerts are in the fans’ living room, shared with their family and friends, to bring that intimacy and enjoyment back. I've just mailed my fan list with the idea and am also pursuing leads in the circuit of established house concert venues. I hope that we get a positive response and I get to play a whole bunch of them this year.

I’ll be releasing an EP single in February: an epic medley of Norwegian Wood and Kashmir that has been a live favorite for my band and I for years now. We finally did a studio version and accompanying video. Check it out in February and let us know what you think!

Visit Aaron's website at http://www.aaronenglish.com to learn more about him.

Follow Aaron on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.