US artist Son Little, known to his friends as Aaron Livingston, is blurring the lines between genres on his new self-titled debut album. The intersection of Blues, RnB, Country and Soul is kept busy through the fifteen tracks on this record. I took some time to chat with Aaron about the album, song writing and how to write a song using just drums.
You’ve been described as Nu-Soul or Neo-Soul. Can you describe your sound in your own words for the average Australian who hasn’t been exposed to your brand of music yet?
Um, well you know I don’t know that I’d necessarily describe it that way. But I think that people react to sort of elements of classic RnB or traditional Blues or an earlier version of rock n roll.
When you hit the studio to make this album, what influences did you pull from?
There’s such a wide range! A lot of what I like is heavily ingrained. I’ve listened to older blues musicians like Howlin’ Wolf etcetera, but I think that really the whole world around me is the inspiration for the sound and the lyrics as well.
Listening to the single “Lay Down”, which I love, there’s a stand out element of rich layered harmonies. Is that something that gets you going?
Yeah I mean harmony is one of my favourite parts of making a song, whether it’s me recording them on my own or using a group.
Your real name is Aaron Livingston, so how did Son Little come about?
Well I didn’t really come up with it myself, I was kind of given it. I had this friend who kept mispronouncing my last name as Littleson, so I just reversed it.
There’s a fair bit of genre crossing on the album, is that deliberate?
Um, well it’s deliberate in the sense that everything that you hear is there purposefully, but no I don’t intentionally mix genres, I just try to give the song what I think it requires.
So when you’re sitting down to write a song, you’re just sort of coming up with what you’re feeling at the time – there’s no intention to write say a Blues song or a Country song…?
No, no, definitely not. I think that songs kind of tell you what they want to be and you just gotta give ‘em what they want. And then it just might end up sounding like a combination of the things I’m influenced by.
You obviously don’t like sticking to a formula for song writing then! Is there anything you do similar each time or is it a purely organic process?
I like to the process to be very easy, I don’t like to force anything. So you know, I try to just follow the strongest of the impulses that I get when creating a song and it usually leads to good places. It might be a drum pattern that comes first or a lyrical phrase or a melodic phrase, but whatever seems strongest I try to follow.
That’s good to hear you know because I’m a drummer and I have a very hard time trying to get anyone to believe that I can write a song starting with just a beat.
Yeah absolutely! I think drums are one of the best ways to start writing a song.
Well my band mates never seem to agree, but I’m going to tell them you said that!
(Laughs) Yeah man let ‘em know!
You’ve got a pretty crazy tour schedule through until the end of the year. Any plans to head to Australia next year?
I really hope so. There’s been a lot of chatter about it. Hopefully we’ll be able to work that out in the coming year.
So in general what’s on the cards for next year?
You know I think we’re booking some festivals now, and right now I’m working on the new live show. And you know I wanna just get in front of people and just see how it comes across. It’s a lot of fun playing live. And for many people what they hear on the record and maybe don’t understand becomes a lot more clear when they see it live. I wanna get that in front of as many people as I can.
What’s the reception been like back home in the states for the new album?
It’s been very positive. I’ve played in front of a lot of very different crowds. Most of the time, the band or artist I’ve been opening for is very different from me. So it’s been really great to get very positive feedback from people who, you know, you wouldn’t expect to like what I do.
Who are some of the people you’ve played with this year?
I mean in the past year or so I’ve opened for Kelis, I opened for Mumford and Sons. We opened for a great band over here (that were) sort of country, like a modern rockabilly kind of sound. And I’ve played a bunch of different festivals. You know, we’ve played blues festivals a lot. But yeah the reception has been great.