Q: How was it growing up in New Jersey and did it affect how you create music?
J.AARON: I would say it made the music so eclectic and diverse. New Jersey is both of those things. It really has everything: big cities, forests, mountains, you name it. Not to mention all the talent that is jersey born and bred. As much as people like to hate New Jersey (if you don’t like us, we don’t care ☺️), it really does have a little bit of everything and I like to think my music reflects that.
Q: This song is so fun, I can easily hear it at every party this summer. It has that upbeat instrumental, but as I listen to the lyrics, you are delving into your emotions about your anxiety. Can you take me through your writing process on this “Ah Lyke It”?
J.AARON: Well, thank you for listening first off! It was really interesting how this song came together. I think a lot of people experience what I talk about in this song, feeling so anxious that it makes you come off as “weird”. It’s strange to me because a lot of us have bouts of anxiety but we don’t make space for it or have the grace to acknowledge and in others. Everybody’s different and quirky in their own way and I really hate that people make each other wrong for that. I was having trouble writing anything because I was afraid to talk about things like anxiety and depression but the song came about after a fortuitous conversation with the legendary songwriter Thomas Bahler. He’s best known for penning ‘She’s Out Of My Life’, a track on the infamous Michael Jackson album ‘Off The Wall’. The advice that he left me with was “Just tell the truth!” I wrote Ah Like It the next day.
Q: How was it like opening up for huge names such as 50 cent and Kenny Rogers. What did you take away from that experience?
J.AARON: It taught me so much! About the business, about performing and putting on quality performances. It really gave me a peek behind the curtain and a peak into the process. It was a part of the business that I was so afraid to fall in love with until I got a chance to see it. Now I’m obsessed with putting on great shows. I feel really good about what it takes to be a dynamic performer in front of people. Ultimately, I hope to be performing for audiences as big as those legends have so it was a good preview!
Q: What was the best advice you ever received?
J.AARON: A closed mouth doesn’t get fed. You’re not gonna eat unless you ask for food and no one will even know you’re hungry. Things falling in your lap are very rare so in order to generate, you must open your mouth and let people know what you’re looking for. Sometimes it’s asking people for opportunities or to let them know that you’re even interested in the first place. Other times, it’s asking the universe or yourself. No one can help you unless you open your mouth and let them know where to meet you.
Q: What do you hope people take away from this track?
J.AARON: Healing is dope, you’re not alone and fuck the “Push Through” narrative. This song is a celebration of embracing our quirks – being cool with those things people think are “weird”. Learning how to be friends with the parts of me that I don’t love. And, just as important – paying your rent on time.
Q: Do you have any current projects in the works?
J.AARON: I do! I just released a track as a small tribute to my mother. She passed away six years ago on her birthday in June. I wanted to do something different and share for people who have also lost a parent. The song is called “Hi, Mom” and it’s on my SoundCloud (soundcloud…tchaboykin). I’m also closing in on completing an album with my band, Duwende. It’s all a cappella and full of those hip-hop and R&B tracks. I can’t wait for people to hear it!
Interviewed by Melissa Cusano