Starting out as a fresh face in the production scene in the early 2010s, Aries rose to fame through his reproductions of popular Lil Uzi Vert and Playboi Carti beats, which ended up garnering millions of views on YouTube. As his fan count on YouTube began to grow bigger and bigger thanks to his production work, Aries was simultaneously honing his own sound and setting himself up to comfortably create music on his own terms. Eventually, Aries decided to immerse himself entirely into his own music, carrying his authentic sound all the way from Youtube to his debut album WELCOME HOME. With a massive following behind him, the demand for more music became very apparent, and so did the calling for him to delve much deeper into his craft.
After taking some time for reflection and some well-needed self-preservation, Aries hit back with his follow-up album BELIEVE IN ME, WHO BELIEVES IN YOU. Serving as an intimate invitation into the life experiences that shaped this era of music for him, we delved a little further when we caught up with the Californian artist during his first visit to Sydney.
Hi Aries, welcome to Australia. How are you finding it so far?
It’s very nice, clean air. I’m having a good time, it’s cool.
You’re about to embark on the world tour of your sophomore album BELIEVE IN ME, WHO BELIEVES IN YOU, kicking off in Perth in a few days time. Are you excited to bring this album to an international live setting?
Yeah, I love performing. And I had so much fun on my US tour, and the three shows that I did in the UK with my band, and I’m very excited to bring that same energy here.
What kind of energy are you hoping for from the crowd?
I don’t know what to expect. I hear different things from different people. Some people say that you kind of gotta warm them up a little bit, and they’re not crazy out the gate. I don’t know, but I’m assuming it’s gonna be different. Hopefully it is high energy.
You’re part of a new wave of self-made artists who are planting their feet firmly into the music world today. With that in mind, I want to ask you to take us back to the early days of how you began to shape yourself as an artist as well as shape your craft. How long did it take for you to gain certainty around the artist you wanted to be, and the music you wanted to make? Is that something you’re certain of right now?
I mean, I’ve been making music since I was 14. And the thing that really kick-started people having their eyes on me was my YouTube success, with doing my YouTube production style stuff. That’s like my origin story, I guess. But I’ve been making music long before then. When I really developed my own sound, it just happened to be around that same time with the whole YouTube thing popping off. I’ve been making music for five years or so at that point. But those two things, I think, aligned at a very good time.
I read about the influence of Linkin Park on you as a kid, and how your first direct brush with wanting to pursue music was watching their live DVDs. Are you able to let us in on some of the moments within those DVDs and those performances that stuck with you as a kid?
Yeah, I’m talking about Linkin Park Live in Texas. That’s the one that did it for me. I was like, wow. And I come from a musical household, like my Dad has made music ever since I was a little kid. And it’s just kind of been around me. But that DVD, I don’t know, I don’t know what it did for me. It was just like, wow, that’s very cool. I want to be in it. I originally wanted to be in a band in elementary school and stuff. I was asking the kids that I was friends with, and that I’ll play guitar. I always said I’ll play guitar and I had an idea how to play guitar but I was like, oh, I still wanna play guitar.
Watching those DVDs growing up, what kind of perspectives did they provide to you as a kid and what kind of perspectives do they provide to you now as an artist?
That’s a good question. I still think I’m a kid you know, so still watching stuff like that excites me as if I was a little kid. I still want so much more, I have very childlike dreams. And I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface of what I want to do in terms of life, and in terms of my music. And now that I have developed my own sound, I’m able to just accomplish what I want. Knowing that I’ve gotten this far is almost like confirmation for me. Yeah, it’s real. Manifestation.
Nostalgia is kind of a common motif in your music. Does that reflect the perspective you have of seeing yourself still as a kid?
Yeah, definitely. I think the more I’ve lived, I’ve realised that innocence fascinates me, just like the idea of learning about new things for the first time and like losing, in a sense. I feel like a lot of my music is inspired by that for sure.
What are some things that are nostalgic to you?
A lot of video games, a lot of cartoons. Dragon Ball Z, you know, there’s a lot of other anime out there that just tell a better story. I will forever have a bias on Dragonball Z. Nostalgia comes with a bias for sure. Just things that you grew up on, it just goes back to that innocence.
YouTube was very clearly used as a platform for you to let your creative urges run free. Did you ever feel nervous or fearful of putting your work out there at such a young age on such a massive platform for people to consume?
No, but I did take a lot of my own music down because at that time, I wasn’t nervous to put it up. It was so bad, and now I just feel embarrassed. I will say, I was nervous to get on camera. More uncomfortable. I had this running bit that I did where I just made a straight face on camera. And to a point, I still do that if I set up a camera. I can’t really smile and put on this whole YouTube thing. But yeah, I wouldn’t say nervous.
How did you then gain the confidence to present yourself as you on camera, how have you been able to surpass all of that?
I don’t think I have yet unless I have a bunch of my friends with me. When doing that alone, it’s so tough for me. But we all got to work on something.
Touching on your sophomore album BELIEVE IN ME, WHO BELIEVES IN YOU, you’ve said that it serves as the losses and lessons that you’ve gone through and learned over the past few years. What were some of those losses and lessons that you experienced that found their way into the music?
A lot of it was just making a change in my life. Before when I made music, I just didn’t have an off button. It was a learning process for me. And sometimes I would just go and go without stopping and sometimes that’s more detrimental than it is good. On this new album, I take breaks and insert myself when I feel best. Not saying that I would just only make music when I felt good, because I have to be a muse for my creativity. I gotta just be ready when the creativity is there. Even if I’m not feeling super inspired, I still would make music. A lot of it is just a balancing act and learning to hone in on myself, because I feel like with my previous album, I wasn’t living in a sustainable way. It was just bad for me mentally.
On your track ‘FOOLS GOLD’, you draw back to a recurring motif in your music about the sun and living, and striving for a healthy in-between of being in the sun and then being in the “shade”. Do you think you’ve found that balance yet?
I think it’s just a work in progress. Sometimes I might relapse, but it’s always a work in progress.
How do you take that in your stride and go about every day as a new day?
I guess it’s just like self reminders. There are definitely times I relapse and get back into really bad habits. But I think it’s just maturing. I’m all about trying to learn to become better at everything.
You’ve got a hectic rest of the year coming up, with shows in New Zealand later down the line and then touching down in the rest of Europe. What’s next for you after the tour?
I plan on doing another WUNDERWORLD Fest for sure. And then I guess, just gonna keep honing in on the next bit of music.