Aiden’s face may carry some scruff, but his music is smooth and fresh.
Indie singer-songwriter Aiden James first came to our attention with his emotional video for “On the Run” which showed us the history of a relationship through the home it happened in. We followed him on Twitter, on his tours, and it was almost a year ago when he gave us a sneak peek of his new album. Now the first single is ready, and we caught up with the out singer-songwriter to hear what he has in store for us.
AE: It’s been almost a year since you first showed us “Best Shot” and it’s now ready for a single?
AJ: Yeah, Actually it was funny, I realized today as I was looking around and I happened to come across the video I did for the song on Sirius Satellite Radio when I was fundraising for it and that was December 20th, and it’s almost been a year. It will actually come out less than a year, so I feel I have succeeded in having the album take less than a year.
AE: Now I know the single “Best Shot” is coming out on iTunes December 12th, but is that the whole album, or just going to be the single?
AJ: Just the single on the 12th.
AE: So when can we expect the full album?
AJ: The full album, the twelve tracks will be released on iTunes worldwide on January 2nd.
AE: So you’re starting out the new year right!
AE: Are you going on tour to support the new album? It seems like you’ve been on the road a lot lately between D.C. and New York.
AJ: I will continue to tour. I think that’s the best way to get your music out there and interact with fans on the road. I love to tour, I love to play live shows. I think that’s a really big part of being a singer-songwriter-musician is to hit the road and do those live shows and meet a lot of people.
Furry marketing for the first single
AE: So how has the sound evolved for you, because I was listening to the track you sent me, and then I was watching the video from the SiriusXM performance. It’s really not quite the same song. It’s modernized, I guess.
AJ: Yeah. So what I’m sure what everyone is used to hearing from my previous records, like for instance my last record, “On the Run” was much more in the Americana/folk vibe, definitely more stripped down, I guess more organic sounding. Definitely in the singer/songwriter tone. But this new record is definitely going to be more electronic. I pulled in a lot of synths and different sounds. I engineered and produced this entire record myself and I had this specific idea of what I wanted it to sound like and I definitely am I really big fan of electronic music and music with motion. But also maintaining the singer-songwriter integrity and things you expect, to have music with content. And I feel that hopefully I accomplished that.
What you’re hearing is a lot of new production style for me. Experimenting with different sounds and layering my vocal. On “Best Shot,” the single that’s going to be out on Monday there are at least eight layers of my vocals that I sang. There are no vocoders or anything like that on my record. It’s all me – I sang every harmony and I had a friend who sang with me on a couple tracks with me. But it’s all my vocals layered, I sang everything, nothing was put through any kind of machines or anything.
I’m really proud of it.
AE: I’m not sure how you can expect to be successful in today’s music market without mechanically altering your voice. It seems everyone has decided altered is the way to go. Does that come from your tendency to play so many live shows?
AJ: Absolutely! You’re right on with that. I find it simpler when I was engineering my record. It does take a degree of accuracy in your vocal when you’re singing to sing it rather than patching through a vocoder that will repeat your vocal five times and change the pitch. You get a certain sound with that, but I decided that since the production of this album was going to be electronic anyway I would actually sing all of my vocals and all of my harmonies and get that rich vocal, so that’s what I did.
AE: I was listening to the track on my home stereo, and thanks to a previous life I have a somewhat ridiculous system sitting in my home with Focal speakers and Martin-Logan subwoofers and B&K amps, and I have to tell you, there is a warmth to it you don’t get out of an electronically produced sound.
AJ: Excellent! That’s what I was shooting for.
AE: One of the things that drew us to you was the video you put out for “One the Run.” It was one of the most beautifully done storytelling videos I’d seen in a long time. Of course, the song provided the basis for that. Do you have a similar narrative theme going through this album as well?
AJ: Coming from my singer-songwriter background, my roots are very much present even though the record is going to be pop/electronic. So that’s innate in what comes out in my songwriting.
For example, there’s going to be a track on my album called “Hurry, Hurry.” It follows a journey taking the New York City subway and I happen to be meeting someone for a date. It felt like, if you’ve ever waited for somebody to come over from Brooklyn on the MTA in New York it feels like it takes hours, 100 miles away. It’s sort of the whole journey, the experience, going underground and then so many people racing back and forth. It’s sort of that entire experience of meeting that person and coming up to the street and that world of light, meeting them, that whole journey, when your heart’s involved in meeting that person. That will very much be something I’ve stuck with in my music. And the video we’re going to shoot for it will be the second video. But we’re definitely going to keep that element.
AE: It sounds like you’re going for a more upbeat feel, where as “On the Run” had a bit of a tragic quality to the tour of the house. It sounds like you’re in a more upbeat place in your life right now.
AJ: That song was a definite parting of ways, and there’s some heartache in there, but I find that, even, I’m 29, I find that as I’ve grown up, and grown up in my musical life, you can have songs that have movement and be at a certain pace and still express that kind of emotion. Sad songs don’t have to be slow – they can be upbeat have movement and have an experience in them.
AE: You’re based in Philly, right? Why Philly? It doesn’t seem like it’s the most obvious place to be an out pop musician.
AJ: Well, Philly is where I grew up. I live in Rittenhouse Square. It’s been good to me, it’s a really easy city to live in, but I am making a move soon, so I am looking forward to that.
AE: I hope that works out for you. Now, you said you had two videos planned, so when does Logo get the first video?
AJ: I don’t know! We have to start shooting it! It’s hard to say, but the first video should be out late winter/early spring, after I’ve toured a little bit with it and had a chance for the album to spread.
AE: When’s your next show? How can folks get tickets?
AJ: We have a couple holes on some dates, but the next show is actually a local Philly album release on February 25th at MilkBoy Philadelphia in Center City. There’s some details on my website about it. That’s always up to date with my concert and tour dates.
AE: It’s been great talking to you, and I wish you best of luck with the album. We’re looking forward to hearing the rest of it.
AJ: Amazing. I can’t wait to send it to you.
You can buy Aiden James’ single “Best Shot” on iTunes today.