If you have been following The Revue, one of the things that we are trying to do is promote the music of independent artists that are still trying to develop a following or young artists who are just getting started in the business. Today’s Mundo Musique is a special feature spotlighting two young, gifted, aspiring musicians who have focused on different musical genres but are journeying down the same DIY route.
Chris Ayler – Producer
Music is a talent that can can be nourished and developed over time – whether it’s learning to play an instrument, developing one’s voice, or songwriting. But then there are those who possess a natural gift for music – the ability to put an array of sounds together easily to create moving and captivating pieces. Beethoven and Mozart were some of the early pioneers. Michael Jackson was a musical protege in his early years. Will 17-year old Chris Ayler join them?
A high school senior from Westland, Michigan, Chris Ayler is producing music that mixes hip hop, trance, trip-hop, and dub-stup that is fresh and innovative. His talent isn’t in playing instruments but rather he’s able to hear and capture different sounds, even the most subtle, and transform them into a musical composition. It is an innate talent that only a few people possess, especially at such an early age. “I knew at an early age that I had a great ear for hearing different sounds and just knowing when to put in beats and kicks to make a song”, he told me back in October.
And since he was 14 years, Ayler has been putting together music, experimenting with different sounds and combinations every night for the past 3 years. He draws inspiration from from a wide range of influences and media – from Kanye West to NAS to ’80s pop music like by A-Ha to even Harry Potter films. As he told me when he produced the song “Oh No”, “I was watching Harry Potter: The Sorcerer’s Stone, and there is a scene where Harry is at Hogwarts. At that moment, there is this great little sample as Harry enters the school, and I took that sample and slowed it down. I then added some melodies and other production elements.”
However, Ayler has had to work on his craft instead of just relying on his innate ability. “When I started out, I was just throwing things together and mashing them. But over time, I’ve learned more about melodies and sonic. Sure, I have a good ear for music, but I know I still have to develop it.”
But for Ayler to take the next step, he realizes he needs to move to an environment that will foster his music and growth. “My mom has been tremendously supportive throughout, but she still wants me to get an education. So I plan on going to New York after I graduate and possibly enroll in some sound engineering courses as well as continuing to produce music. I want to keep my options open while also learning to master my craft. I have a cousin who plays in the orchestra in New York, and she has been telling me about the opportunities in the big city.”
In the meantime, Ayler is still producing music while he finishes his final year of high school. Last month, he released a five-song EP, which you can listen to and purchase on his bandcamp site . It is an EP that is less hip hop but more trance and trip hop that echos similarities to other great producers, such as Burial and Matthew Dear. This includes “Oh No”. Some of his works could also form the foundation for the trip-hop sound of Massive Attack, such as “Praise”.
His talent is starting to be some notice from others, including hip hop singer and producer Aaron Reid, who is also the son of famed American record executive and current chairman and CEO of Epic Records Antonio “L.A.” Reid.
With an EP under his belt and a some major support, what does Ayler aspire to achieve at the end of the day? “My goal in life is to be better than Kanye West. I know that sounds crazy but I really work hard to try and achieve that goal.” With his talent and ambition, being the next Kanye West or better is definitely within his grasp.
MindGoneAFloat – 5-track EP available at http://ayler.bandcamp.com/album/mindgoneafloat
Jordan Velez – Singer-Songwriter
For some artists, their talents are gradually developed over time but commence at an early age. Some benefit from formal instruction while others are self-taught. For Jordan Velez, his love for music and his development started at the age of 3 when he first sat down at a piano and pounded at the keys. Eighteen years later at the age of 21, Velez has taught himself to play the guitar, bass, harmonica, drums, banjo, and ukulele. He’s now learning how to play the violin. You could call him the second-coming of Andrew Bird, who, not surprisingly, Velez lists as one of is idols along with Jeff Buckley, Dallas Green, Chet Baker, El Ten Eleven, STRFKR, Colin Stetson, Jim Guthrie, and many others.
His musical escapades span his influences. Early in his career, he started by producing two EDM albums under the moniker Jordy – Velectro, an “experimental EDM album”, and What Would Zordon Do, which Velez described as “90’s Power Rangers inspired”. His last project, Stories, was released in 2013 and is a 10-track LP of mellow indie-folk/-pop songs, which was profiled on this site back in October of 2013. As Velez told me, “During producing Velectro and What Would Zordon Do, I was writing this melancholic, folky kind of songs that I really only showed my brother and a few friends. They really pressured me into recording an album with all the songs I showed them, so I released Stories last year.”
And Velez continues to work hard at mastering his craft and writing more songs. As a result, the new year will the multi-talented, southern California native release note one but two albums that will see him continue to experiment with new sounds and genres, potentially moving towards a sound akin to The Decemberists.
“I was originally going to produce one album this year, but I write a lot of songs and they pile up so I’ve decided to put out two albums”, Velez told me. “The first one will be called The Pessimist’s Guide to Non-Improvement, which, as the title suggests, will be another melancholy sounding album. I plan on retiring that genre after its release – at least for the time being.”
“The second album will be called Travelers, and it’s a concept album about the life and death of an imperfect couple who grew old together. This one will be my first full-band, collaboration album and it will be more uplifting. I’m very excited about this project and what it could lead to.”
But as Velez is an independent, DIY musician, he’s hoping to raise $1,500 total for his two projects. If you’re interested in his work, you can support him on the crowdsourcing platform that he recently launched. With a vast interest and his multiple talents, the future is still unknown for Velez. But having already released music that rages from dubstep and EDM to melodic folk songs akin to Iron & Wine and John Mayer and a future project that could be like a Decemberists album, Velez’s journey has endless possibilities, and his career will be one to follow.
The Pessimist’s Guide to Non-Improvement – ETA: February 2014
Travelers – ETA: Spring 2014
Crowdsourcing for these two projects – http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/jordan-makes-two-new-solo-diy-albums
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