We had the good fortune of connecting with Aaron W. Kaufman and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Aaron, is there something that you feel is most responsible for your success?
I truly believe that it all starts with the realization of who I am as an artist or individual, but more importantly the knowledge of who I’m not. If you can’t define who you are, then why would someone else choose to work with you? This is no easy actualization; in fact, it takes years to find your own ‘voice’ which is a product of all of your influences and experiences molding together to make you unique as a musician or business. Knowing my strengths and personal style and really letting those things shine is the single most important thing to me. For example, there are a ton of talented drummers in Atlanta, but I get calls for gigs or recording sessions because of my competency in different styles, my feel, my preparedness and my attitude. There are guys or gals who can play circles around me in some styles, but they may not be into blending genres or more importantly, they just aren’t a great hang or good vibe to be around. I’ve got 20+ years under my belt playing rock, blues, funk, jam band, alternative, hip hop and soul music. I show up ready and support the music first and foremost. Performance wise, that’s where I know I can shine!
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
The first chapter of my musical journey was all about the drums. My goal was playing in bands, recording other artists music and getting as much experience under my belt as I possibly could. I’ve played hundreds of gigs and cut my teeth in bars and clubs all over the southeast and mid-atlantic regions. I’ve recorded on albums by the southern funk/americana group Heywire, one of which featured the late Kofi Burbridge (Tedeschi Trucks Band). I played for years with The Shana Blake Band out of Charlotte, NC, one memorable night opening up for the legendary Booker T. Jones. I’ve played on local records, being featured on The Ain’t Sisters most recent album Marrow. I’m currently a member of the funk powerhouse group Soulhound, who has opened for the likes of The Lowrider band (formerly WAR) and others, and started a hip hop cover band called The Wax Throwbacks which blends classic soul/funk samples with the rap songs that used them to achieve commercial success. The list goes on. I mention these not to brag (I actually don’t like talking about myself much), but because I categorize that side of my musical journey into one specific segment. What I’m focused on and most excited about now is another side of the coin which is writing, recording and releasing my own original music. I’ve spent the better part of the last 6 years deep diving into audio recording and building my own home studio which has become my playground. I’ve always dabbled in guitar, bass, keyboards and sampled instruments, but have never really had the motivation to put those things together into something real until recently. I’m now infatuated with it. The ideas have been pouring out of me and I finally feel like my production ability has caught up to my musical proficiency (two very different skillsets). It’s created this perfect storm and conduit for my creativity and songwriting. Over the few years I’ve been working on over a dozen songs, three of which are already available on all streaming services and platforms, with the others to follow as singles and eventually a full-length album. The sounds are all unique but are mainly based on melodic funky/rock riffs on top of layers of textures and sounds. Think Tame Impala, Vulfpeck, Lettuce, 311 to get in the ballpark. I try to make each song its own sonic landscape that conveys an emotion and makes the listener feel something. The ultimate goal for me is to not only release all of these songs and ideas to the world, but to use that knowledge and experience as a springboard to build value as a music producer and engineer, helping others create and release music the right way with proper registration and rights ownership to receive all available royalties and streams of income. The next venture already in the works is an entity that encapsulates those areas of music production, publishing and licensing!
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
This is going to sound boring, but at heart I’m an introvert. A misconception about musicians is that they’re all a bunch of party animals. Now in my late 30’s I rarely go out to bars or clubs just to go out. I will venture out if there’s a friend’s band playing, or fun event like an arts or music festival, but other than that I’m contented hitting up local restaurants and just enjoying the company of those I care mostly about. When I do go out I’m all about unique places, I used to live close to Buford Highway and fell in love with some of the restaurants in that area. I always like to hit Smith’s Olde Bar for some local music. A walk on the belt line on a beautiful fall day with some stops along the way for cold beverages is another favorite activity of mine. Now with COVID-19 affecting everything, making a fire in the back yard and strumming the guitar seems like a nice evening to me!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
For starters, I’m very fortunate to have been raised in a musical family. Almost all of my blood relatives have been involved in music either as a profession (in part or in whole) or as a hobbyist. Some of my earliest memories include music being played as a soundtrack to what was going on in our home. My father Alan specifically is an incredibly talented and accomplished piano player and drummer, and he has always nurtured my curiosity and interests in music from before the time I could walk. I remember being exposed to Paul Simon, Steve Winwood, Earth Wind & Fire and countless rock and jazz records he had on rotation over my younger years. When I inevitably latched on to the drums he would let me sit down behind his silver sparkle Slingerland drum kit and bang away, feet barely touching the foot pedals (if at all). It’s that exposure and nurturing attitude that I owe for my love of music and my development. Even to this day I’ll send him bounces of my latest song or mix and he’ll give me feedback to help me improve, or encourage me to buy that piece of gear I’m excited about which only sends me deeper down the rabbit hole! If you have children or even friends that are curious about music, please encourage them. You never know what they may accomplish!
Youtube: Aaron W. Kaufman
Tom Kettles, Kara Hammond, Jon Schlanger