THE superb Aidan Carroll has been telling me…
about his forthcoming album, The Other Side. It is released on 14th September and, ahead of its release, I discover the themes that inspired the record. Carroll discusses his musical past and why his parents were an influence; a few albums that are especially important to him – he recommends some artists to watch out for.
I ask the songwriter how he got into Jazz and whether he has a favourite memory from his career to date; if we might see the American come to the U.K. soon; what he would tell artists coming through in the industry right now – he ends the interview with a great track.
Hi, Aidan. How are you? How has your week been?
Greetings. I’m having a good week! Thank you for asking. Mostly, working on new music; my album release and prepping to play a show with my friend/artist Rush Davis who’s performing at an Amy Winehouse tribute here at the Los Angeles (Soho House) on Friday. Last week was a bit of a mercury retrograde vibe, so I’m happy to be moving out of that.
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
My name is Aidan and I’m a chameleon of sorts. I’ve been lucky to play bass for various cool people and travel the world playing Jazz, Rock, R&B…you name it. I find myself in a new life-phase working as a producer and writer working with like-minded artists. I currently am producing and writing my own music which falls somewhere in the experimental Soul/R&B/Jazz-infused landscape.
The Other Side is your upcoming album. What sort of themes and ideas inspired the songs?
Transformation, change; discovery, exploration and rebirth. The album is about finding new sides of myself as a person and musician and learning how to express those vulnerabilities through sound. This being my first project as a singer and songwriter, I find I write from a fairly personal place. There are some universal themes here as well such ‘love’ and ‘self-acceptance’ to name a couple.
The album is also dedicated to my father who passed away three years ago so his spirit is an important element to the project. On top of all that, there is a certain freedom I found in not following conventional forms so that kind of open exploration is a consistent theme throughout.
Is there a song from the album you are particularly drawn to?
Hard to pick one but, for now, I’m gonna go with Another Step which was written for my father. The vocal performance was quite tender and stripped down - I realized after recording it. I like the chords too.
You are a classically trained Jazz musician. How did you get into Jazz?
Honestly; Jazz just felt like a logical step for me in my music progression as a kid in high-school. I got into it from Classic Rock to Progressive Rock to '70s Fusion and then from there went backwards and started studying the classics. The very first time I heard it though was when my dad got Thelonious Monk’s album, Straight, No Chaser, as a gift from a friend. That and Pat Metheny’s album, Question and Answer - I really wore those out. Jazz is an immense music and truly a lifelong study. I feel grateful for having spent so much time in that world; it really keeps you humble as a musician.
When did music come into your life? Which artists did you follow when you were young?
I was surrounded by music being that my mother was a Classical pianist and professor and my dad a self-taught guitarist and singer. But, I do have a distinct memory from around eight-years-old when I had a vision sort of wash over me and I just knew then that I would play music for the rest of my life. That was it.
Artists I was drawn to when I was young include The Band, Bob Dylan; Robert Johnson, Jimmy Hendrix and a little later loads of grunge like Stone Temple Pilots, Soundgarden; Black Sabbath and finally, at the end of high-school, I got into some Hip-Hop like The Roots, Bone Thugs-n-Harmony and Nas to name a few.
What do you hope to achieve by the end of 2018?
By end of the year, I’d like to have begun the process of being self-sufficient as a producer and co-writer for other artists. That’s really the ultimate goal: to service others with my talents. As well, I’d like to have a good handle on the direction for my next releases as a solo artist.
Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music so far – the one that sticks in the mind?
Ohh, man; so many stories! Okay; a deep one: I was playing in Minneapolis with Lisa Fischer…I think this was two years ago in the fall. We were playing Gimme Shelter - the Stones song - which I have an open acoustic bass solo on, as in I can really take it wherever I feel like taking it.
That night, towards the end of my solo, I found myself playing the theme to John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme and Lisa caught it and then all of us plus the audience were chanting the melody and words meditatively. It was a beautiful moment. Later, after the show that same night, I found out it was Coltrane’s birthday that day… No. Words. Man.
Which three albums mean the most to you would you say (and why)?
Marvin Gaye - What’s Going On
Somehow, I discovered Marvin a little late. I had already left my hometown and moved to N.Y.C. when I did and, though I had heard artists like Stevie Wonder growing up, I just didn’t hear much classic Soul/R&B in my environment. Once I did, I could not stop listening to this album. It feels like classic Soul to me. The man had an incredible gift of being able to express *emotion through song - he’s been a big influence ever since.
Frank Ocean – Blonde/Blond
I had to pick one recent album and this is the one. In my opinion, it’s one of the greatest modern works of music. Everything from the songs, the vocals to the production creativity. Frank is one of the true innovators in music for me.
Jaco Pastorius – Jaco
This guy changed bass playing and music forever. His approach to the bass was completely original and unprecedented. He was only twenty-five when he recorded this album, his first album. An all-star cast, great tunes and performances. I was fairly young when I heard it and it was definitely an influence on me. The song, Portrait of Tracy, with all bass harmonics is a legendary standout. Check it out, y’all.
If you could support any musician alive today, and choose your own rider, what would that entail?
Francis and the Lights.
My rider would probably have something like beer, gin; vermouth, lemons; raw ginger, salad; fresh bread, charcuterie; Twizzlers, chocolate chip cookies; espresso machine, water and LaCroix. Haha!
Might we see some tour dates coming up? Where might we be able to catch you play?
I’ll be doing some shows around L.A. and other parts of the U.S. this fall with Rachel Eckroth and Lisa Fischer (I’ll be on bass for both). Stay tuned for more in the future.
Will you come to the U.K. and play at some point?
I sure hope so. I love it there. Toured in London twice in the past with other artists and would love to come back soon. Especially would love to collaborate with some artists and producers in the U.K. - some of my favorite music is from there.
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
Write from your heart. Work hard. Network with people in a genuine way. Develop a team of collaborators you trust to help you execute your vision. Never give up.
IN THIS PHOTO: Big Red Machine
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
I do! I find, as I get older, it becomes more important and I get better at finding time away. I love to exercise or get outside as a way to take a break and stay healthy. I’m an avid reader; love getting to museums when I can and just going out to the bar with my wife is a fave activity. Spinning records at home, too!
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
Alice Coltrane - Wisdom Eye
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