Roll down the windows, we’re listening to Aaron Title: Anti-Standard #24

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Anti-Standard no. 24 is here! I sat down with Boston-based singer, songwriter, and producer Aaron Title. Aaron’s put out five singles and 1 EP in the last two years. Finding inspiration in love and life Aaron world-builds for the restless daydreamer, the ones who long for more.

Hi, I’m Aaron. I use he/they pronouns. I’m originally from right outside of Washington, DC, but I’m here in Boston studying at Berklee right now.

You say you make music for the late nights, the 02:00 AM afterparty for those who thrive as outsiders. What does that mean to you, and what does that mean regarding possibly your younger self? Do you make this music for your younger self?

I guess I like to make, like, Dancy, alternative pop music. I like stuff that would be good at like an after-party; stuff that would be good, like listening in your own room, definitely in your bed, but also just like to dance too and just to have fun. I do that because I love sort of like pop dance beats, just like having fun. That’s most of the music I listen to, but I like to sort of pair it with these confessional sort of diary entry lyrics that are kind of really personal to me. Most of my lyrics are just like whatever is going on in my life right now. And I just write about just emotional experiences. I hope in either setting, either at a party or just dancing or listening in your room, anyone can just have fun and relate and feel like someone else out there has gone through something just like them.

Absolutely. Yes. I totally relate to what you’re saying about making it for people who are driving late at night. This is totally the kind of music I would have listened to. I would listen to it now also, and I am listening to it. I feel that diary entry coming through. Can you talk about your writing process now that you mention diary entries and reliability?

Yeah. I mean, I usually just write literally whatever I am going through currently at that moment, just definitely about relationships and people and just like whatever sort of emotions I’m feeling it’s definitely writing for me has always been like a really good output. It’s super therapeutic for me to just write all these sorts of maybe intense emotions that I’m feeling to get it out. Get it somewhere. Yes, but just like usually whatever I’m going through at that current moment, I’m like I’m going to write a song about it and then just like, get it out. Just put it out.

Do these thoughts sometimes start as journal entries or poems, or do you immediately go right into the song world?

For me, it does always start as a song. I’ve written like poems a few times, but for me I feel like I’m so used to writing songs that I’m like that’s my go-to sort of like artistic output.

Can you talk about the challenges of producing your own music and why you feel it’s important to produce your own music? Have you ever would consider having other people produce it?

Yeah, I actually started producing when I got to school here in 2018, so I guess like four years ago now. Three or four years ago just kind of crazy because I feel like I always had a very specific sound in mind for my music, and I had gone to a few producers when I initially came to Boston and I was just like, It’s good. I like the direction that the music is going in, but, this isn’t my sound. I was very just, driven to find my sound and what I liked.

And then I just started producing, and I felt like, through that, I was able to create the sort of world and atmosphere of the song that I wanted to do. I felt like that was just easier for me than finding other people. I don’t know. I’m definitely kind of introverted, so I just feel like when I first started out, I was like, trying to reach out to people, trying to collaborate, and then I was just like, it’s easier for me to just do it myself. And I kind of found that was like a skill that I was enjoying, and that was also really surprising to me.

Absolutely. I feel that introvertedness, kind of hyper independence. Do you ever produce other people’s music because you have this knowledge now, or do you just stick to your own stuff?

I don’t yet. I mean, lately it’s definitely been something I’ve been considering. Yes. But I feel like I’ve been focused on my projects and I’m like, my production is for me kind of selfishly, but I think it totally would be cool and I’m totally open to that.

Maybe soon you’ll open up the doors of collaboration, but for now on your world-building. I want to talk about you mentioned world-building and building up your own world. How do you figure out, layering styles? Do you have a process that you always stick to? Is it kind of more organic depending on the song and how you’re feeling?

It definitely does switch up. I feel like, though, if I’m starting out, like, I’ll need a really sick, dancy, upbeat bassline. And then after I have the bass line, I immediately go to the drums because I feel like the bass and the drums just have a connection and usually for my music I always want to make it upbeat and dancey and just like fun and like a party. So I’m usually drawn to that and then once I have the bassline then I can figure out the chords and then I just sort of like layer on just like little melodic loops and just like little synth-y things and I love a good bell sound. Just like stuff to make it fun and make. I guess the atmosphere of the song just feel more filled out.

Speaking of these layers, can you talk about the most challenging song you’ve put out so far in terms of maybe be in terms of actually making it or challenging for what it was inspired by a challenge in your life?

That’s a really good question. I think the first song to mind for me is wait, that’s hard.

I think for me, the first one that comes to mind is Drive. I didn’t go into that song having a really sound idea of what I wanted it to sound like. I was going for a sort of, like, Lofi house sound. I had never done that before. So I was just looking up YouTube videos on how to make that type of beat online. And then after I did that, I was like, okay, now what do I want to write about? And then I just had to figure out whatever I was feeling. And for that song, it was just like at that time, it was like 2021 so still in the pandemic, I was just like, I need this song to be like an escapist song. So I was writing about getting out of my life. And I [was thinking] can I just leave for a second and take a break?

The dream at times. That’s awesome to hear. I want to know if you could categorize the songs in your discography, which song would you want someone to listen to at a party? What song would you want someone to listen to in their car? And which song would you want someone to be listening in their room alone, thinking big thoughts?

Okay, so for the party, I’m going to have to say either. Is it okay if it’s like a tie?

So for the party, either my song, July, or my latest song, Override. I feel like those two are my most upbeat fun songs about just feeling yourself; feeling good in your skin and being confident.

And just wanting to be, wanting to live your life. And then for Car Ride, definitely Drive. I don’t know if that’s too on the nose. It’s a song about driving. Yeah. But also most of the songs that inspired that song. I found myself listening to those particular songs in the car. I kind of went into making Drive [thinking] I want to make a song to drive to on a late-night highway. Perfect. Yeah. And then for listening alone in your room. Definitely, my song Lost and Found. That was one of the earliest songs that I had made, actually. And that one is just about feeling lost at the time and wanting to find yourself again and not being sure what’s going on. I feel like also just like the production and vibe is very chill and very relaxing. It sort of, like, takes you out for a second, lets you just sit back.

You mentioned being inspired by jungle-garage-era music. Can you give an explanation of jungle-era music? And also, who inspires you as a musician that’s performed in these genres before?

Yeah. So for the jungle era music, it’s mainly for the drums. For the drum beat, I was really inspired by the fast-paced dance drums, specifically in Override. I feel like lately I’ve strayed from that sound, but there are a couple of cool artists for the jungle sound that just do really cool dance tracks. The jungle sound is these sort of messy, driving drums that you’re just like, why does this make me want to dance? It’s kind of weird, but you just want to dance.

I was listening to a lot of, like, Pink Pantheress. She was kind of, like blowing up on Tik Tok, and she uses a lot of that. Yeah, I was really inspired by that. But for, like, General Artist my main inspiration is definitely Maggie Rogers. I heard her music when I was a sophomore, junior in high school, and I was just like, Whoa. It was the first time I heard something that was like pop, but it still had this sort of edge to it that I thought was so sick. And I was like, I want to do something like that. Like something that has these sort of emotional lyrics, like very kind of like kind of simple lyrics, but just telling the story, just telling how you’re feeling, but had this sick production, kind of experimental but still pop.

Can you explain or take us through your journey to becoming a musician? Is this something you always knew you wanted to do, or did it just fall into your head one day and you’re like, I need to do it?

Yeah. So I come from a very musical household. My mom is a jazz singer, and my dad always played the piano, so there was always some sort of music going on. A lot of jazz, a lot of classical music being played in my house. Though, I was listening to the radio and just like, pop songs, and then that transitioned to me starting to write songs. When I was in high school, and I was a freshman or sophomore in high school, and I honestly don’t know what compelled me to do that, but I was just listening to all these songs, like, on the radio, and I was just like, I want to do that. Then I just kind of like, did it, and I realized that I really loved it, and I realized that it was something that, as I said before, was very therapeutic for me at that time. Just like, getting all my intense teenage emotions out in a song and just letting me go. I just love that. And I’ve always loved singing ever since I was little as well. I was in chorus and stuff throughout middle and high school. I was just like, once I got to high school I want to do this.

I want to be a singer. And then I got to Berklee and I feel like through my time here, I’ve really been able to sort of find my sound. I started producing and just hone myself artistically and really take being an artist seriously, which has definitely been definitely a challenge. I love it. And I hope to keep creating music and creating art.

You mentioned that your LGBT experience of always feeling like the odd one out has inspired your music. Could you talk a little bit about how your identity influences your songwriting and just how you present yourself even in the music world.

Yeah. I guess maybe I have a certain perspective that’s just, like, kind of feeling like an outsider and kind of always feeling like the odd one out, specifically in high school, I felt like that growing up as gay, and I feel like with my songs, it’s just a place where I can just be authentically myself and it doesn’t matter what I write about. I don’t know. I also just want people to listen to it through, like, a queer lens.

And to be like, oh, this is like a guy singing about a guy. I know that’s kind of the bare minimum, but I don’t know. I feel like that is how it’s affected me in my music. Yeah.

It’s so important because I feel like when a lot of people listen to songs, especially about love, they’re like, oh, like a man and a woman, or it’s just never we need more music where it’s, like, very clear or not even clear. It doesn’t have to be clear, but where people can look at it from different perspectives.

This is kind of, like, silly of me, maybe. But I would always purposely change the pronouns in songs to be gay because I’d be like, yeah, I’m going to do that. But then I actually have a song called Boy, and when I was writing it, I was like, okay, I’m just going to write a gay song, like a gay love song. And that song found a lot of support from a lot of gay people, specifically gay men, but like, a lot of the LGBT community. And that was really cool for me because I also was kind of like, oh, this is kind of kind of cliche. But it’s really cool that just being open in my music has connected to people outside of where I live. It’s really cool.

Yeah, that’s amazing. And I think we need those, quote, unquote cliches in queer spaces because straight people get that every day. They get those love stories. Love songs catered to them all the time. Could you talk about the Boston music scene and how you feel as a gay artist? Do you feel like you’re supported [here]?

Yeah, definitely. Boston, the music scene, and the college scene are so supportive. Like, people don’t even care about sexuality, which is just so cool, or gender even. Maybe that’s a different story that I don’t actually know that much about. But for being gay specifically, people literally don’t blink an eye at it and they’re just like, oh, cool. You make music, and a lot of the people that I surround myself with in the Boston scene are gay and queer, and it’s just been so cool to find a circle of people that just support you and they don’t even care about your sexuality. It’s not even a thing.

Do you have plans for an album? I know you have all EPs and singles. Do you have a plan to make an album? What are your thoughts on making an album?

I don’t have a plan yet to make an album. I have been toying around with the idea of doing a mixtape, like something less professional, I guess I just feel for me, I do feel like I’m still at a pretty new stage in my, like, artistry, in my musicianship, where I don’t know if I am actually ready to do an album or if I have the support and fan base or whatever where people would listen to every single song in the album. But that’s just like a personal thing. I don’t know. Right now I’ve been focusing on singles and putting [them] out super quick. I feel like that’s how I release music. I just write one song and then I’m like, okay, I’m going to put this out right now. And so just like the thought of an album, I don’t know. That’s not there for me right now, but I think it would be something super exciting and I hope one day could happen. I think it would be really cool.

What song in your discography is one that you’re most proud of.

I think I’m going to say Thinking of Me, which was actually my first release, because when did I write that song? I wrote that song when I was 19 or barely 20, or maybe I was 18. It doesn’t really matter, whatever. But I was just like, okay, I was listening to a lot of Abra at the time, which is like, super bassy, sort of like trap influence. And I was just like, I want to make a song like that. What would it sound like if I with my pop writing style, just, like, throw over, sort of like a trap base, heavy lofi-esque beat? And then I just did that and I was like, oh, I kind of like that. And maybe this is going to sort of be my sound. And I put it out and randomly I got a couple of thousand listens, and I was just like, Whoa, other people like it too. That’s really cool.

That’s awesome. Yeah, it has 4075 listens. That’s amazing. I’m like, looking at your Spotify right now. I love the visuals for your covers. There’s like, a nostalgic feeling to them. Does one person take these? Do you take these pictures? I would love to hear about the artistic side of these visuals.

Yes. So for my earlier stuff, which is like my EP and Thinking of Me, which was on the EP, I just had some friends from home from the DC area take those pictures on, like, Disposable cameras because I thought that was cool at the time. Then for my last three releases, I’ve been working with my really good friend Jenn who is a photographer and lighting designer, and she lives here in Boston. She goes to Emerson, and we’ve been collaborating on the past three covers, mainly more like in-depth on July and Override, which I feel like we both had more of a vision for. I’m really happy with how Override and July those photos came out, because when I was talking with her about the ideas, I was like, oh, I was like, I don’t know how my little idea is going to be able to come out visually. She just was like, I know exactly what you want. I have all these insane tools here, and she just does it. She’s like. She is like an artistic photography genius.

Amazing. I love the visual for Override. I love seeing the progress too, because you start with Don’t Wish You Were Mine, and we can barely even see what’s there. And then I feel like, as you travel through now we’re getting into, like, this subversive space with that really dark background and is that you punching the camera?

Yes, that is me.

Is this you and all the covers?

Yes, I’m on all the covers. I am on the Don’t Wish You Were Mine in that cover, but I didn’t have a good photo for that one, so I was like, I’m just going to rotate it and edit it weird so you can’t really see me.

It’s nice. It’s like you sprung up with these sunflowers and now you’re, like, fighting back. So I have one final question. I recently renamed the platform to you’re going to make something great and that was based on the idea that I believe everyone should have access to being an artist, no one should keep gatekeep artistic practices and everyone has the potential to be an artist. So what does you’re going to make something great mean to you? And what are your thoughts on inclusivity in the music scene? And basically, like, what do you hope or see or wish for music in general in regards to making it more accessible, even just your music, listening to other artists, anything like that?

I would agree with you just that everyone can be an artist. And I think that if you create something, Then you’re automatically an artist. That’s worth something and that people shouldn’t overlook that.

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