Folk music sure has come a long way. From the earliest traditions of mountain folk crooning Bible hymns, giving way to A.P. Carter and his illustrious family lineage, to Bob Dylan ‘going electric’ at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965 (to the dismay or exhilaration of those in attendance, depending on whom you ask). There are too many more brilliant artists to list here and give their due diligence to. Folk music, much like other genres, is in constant flux, but remains a quintessential American art form, akin to Blues and Jazz in that respect.
Enter Aaron Noble Brown. Where does he fit into the lexicon that is folk music? First off, his music is accessible to anyone with two ears and a beating heart. But it is not Traditional or Neo-Traditional folk music. More an amalgamation of current production value and vintage aesthetic. His sound shifts between subdued and open-chorded introspection to warm electronic-toned exuberance, while maintaining a constant sense of self and purpose. It’s full of warmth and soft intimacy, billowing out of speakers instead of blaring out of them.
PULP/ I just wanna jump into it, if that’s cool. In the liner notes for you new album, you say that some of the songs on it are about getting broken up with while in the hospital. Do you mind talking about that?
Aaron Noble Brown/ No, not at all. It happened. I was with this girl, and we were together for like, two years. And then the day I actually leave the hospital, she dumps me. I had real bad and scary ulcers in my stomach, in my esophagus, in my intestines. Basically everywhere. I was throwing up blood for a few days.
So she picks me up from the hospital, doesn’t say anything the whole ride. Then she drops me off at my house, and tells me that she can’t ‘do this’ anymore. Leaves. And we haven’t really talked since.
P/ Dang. That’s pretty messed up. But at least you got some songs out of it, huh?
ANB/ It totally sucked. There’s quite a few songs about it. If I had to give it a number, probably 80% of the last album talks about it in some way.
P/ Of course. A Health scare and a breakup. That’s two big pieces of life happening at the same time! Did she ever explain herself?
ANB/ No. Never.
P/ Are you originally from Colorado?
ANB/ No actually, my family moved here when I was a kid. But I’ve been here since about ‘95 or so.
P/ So you’re a young dude. How long have you been making music for?
ANB/ I started playing piano when I was probably eight. Guitar started at ten. And I started writing my own songs when I was probably twelve.
P/ Wow. What were those songs about?
ANB/ You know, I don’t remember what they were about, but I can tell you they were awful. (laughs).
P/ Your music seems to have some spiritually informed or perhaps ‘awoken’ qualities to it, but not explicitly songs of faith or anything like that. Is that a fair assessment?
ANB/ Maybe. I don’t know. I grew up heavily religious, which in some degree is still a part of my life somewhat. But I try to keep art and religion separated. But on on one of the songs on this new album, ‘I Am A WASP’, I do take on some of the negative parts of ideology, and then make it a play on words.
P/ What’s the scene like here for you?
ANB/ It’s what I love. It’s small, but supportive. I’ve been playing music and in bands here since I was 14. It’s just something I’ve always done. My mother was an artist and graphic designer. And I feel like it made art and expression just a natural thing to me. I grew up around it.
P/ So you weren’t always a solo artist?
ANB/ I have been for the most part. But there have been projects I work on every now and again. Like a friends’ poetry project, setting his poems to music that I produced. Just last night I was talking to another friend about scoring his short film.
P/ You ever play like the Triple Nickel of the Flux Capacitor?
ANB/ Oh yeah. For sure. I just opened up for a hardcore band a couple months ago. I played this super chill acoustic set, and then they started and they just tore it up. But it was good! And kind of funny.
P/ Were the kids into it?
ANB/ Yeah. I think so. I usually find that people who play or listen to harder bands still listen to all types of music, not just super heavy or fast stuff. I was talking to another guy in the (post-hardcore/ambient band) Comrades the other day, and we talked about Bob Dylan for like a half hour.
P/ Do you feel like you mix well with the harder or more extreme bands here in the area. Ever had any bad experiences with genre mixing?
ANB/ Sometimes it’s weird, but for the most part I think it’s been pretty good. But sometimes, a show is just a show. Which sucks sometimes. Most of the time though, if I have a bad time, it doesn’t have anything to do with the type of music they play anyway. People can be rude or unwelcoming in any genre. That’s what turns people off to me. Not the kind of music they play. you could be incredible and I wouldn’t care.
P/ Do you think Springs has been receptive to you?
ANB/ For the most part. There’s so much good stuff going on right now. It seems like a good time here in Colorado. Like I saw you did a thing on Millicent? That’s awesome to me.
P/ We sure did.
ANB/ Dude, Emily (Knurr/of Millicent) is one of my best friends! I actually mixed and mastered her demos a while back.
P/ Nice. How do you feel about Kickstarter and those kinds of services?
ANB/ I’ve used them, and they work, but I don’t think they work nearly as well for DIY music as well as they present themselves. They kind of create this idea that you can create your own label, when really all you’re doing is borrowing money from your friends. And it can create this mentality that you’re somehow famous before you’re really anything at all. The worst thing is going to a local show and one of the bands calls their friends their ‘fans’. It’s like, ‘Dude, these are just people you went to highschool with. Chill.’When you can go somewhere, where you don’t know anyone at all, and someone comes up to you and says that they like what you do, THEN you have a fan.
P/ So there were problems with Kickstarter for you?
ANB/ Not so much with Kickstarter itself. What happened was, I was part of a project that crowdfunded our tour, which felt weird.
P/ Why is that?
ANB/ Well, the group I was with was a bit weird. It was just a bad idea.We had only been playing together for a few months. We had like, a half hour set, maybe. We should’ve been a band for at least another year before going out, not playing 5 shows before we decided to go on tour. But I guess it was a good learning experience.
P/ You definitely learn a bit about trying to market yourself afterward. Do you try to market yourself a bit more, or the best you can anyway?
ANB/ Yeah, I try I suppose. But I feel that the way I make music and with the kind of music I make is better done with word of mouth, and to try and dress it up is kind of deceiving. A lot of the hipster BS stuff is, to me, trying to dress up natural music. Unless it’s something in a certain vein, like electronic music, or anything where aesthetic is a component to the music, then I’d rather just do it my way. I don’t wanna lie. A good song is just a good song, you know? No matter what you do to it.