California’s Bay Area is always bubbling with hot new sounds and artists; today is no different. Meet Aaron Bortz AKA Aabo, Oakland’s latest beat-maker on the block. His airy, infectious style is the perfect way to get your week started. Case in point is this extra fresh collab with fellow Bay Area bass bandit, Tiger Fresh; entitled ‘From Above’, its silky smooth synths and crisply arranged beat structure will have you grooving like nobody’s business.
You can find the full stream after the jump, as well as a free download on Aabo’s Soundcloud page. If you’re feelin’ the vibe, be sure to support this innovative up & comer. And, if you want to learn a little more about the man behind the beats, you’re in luck; we sat down for an interview with him recently, read on for the full conversation!
Tell us a little about your background with music; how did you become a producer?
I grew up surrounded with jazz from a very young age. But through my childhood and adolescence my music tastes progressed and I became fanatical about electronic music, hip-hop, funk and soul and 60’s psychedelic rock. I started messing around with making beats and turn-tableism at 13, but didn’t take it too seriously. I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio and there’s really not a lot to do out there; it was difficult to find a purpose for myself. After I picked up the guitar at age 15, and later bass, I became aware that my true purpose and passion was to make music. I moved to California about 10 years ago for college, where I continued to study music. I became more and more interested in electronic music culture around that time and began getting serious about music production. I had lots of experience already from producing & recording records for the bands I was in when I was younger, so it felt like a natural transition to making beats and dance music.
What was the first piece of electronic music you ever heard? Did you love it or hate it?
Pop is sort of where I heard electronic music. I am really into Michael Jackson and was always drawn to the groove and sounds in his music. I particularly remember that joint, ‘Scream’, which featured Janet Jackson too; the song had some really cool electronic sounds in the production, but was still super funky. When I was like 9 years old the other kids were watching Sesame Street but I was watching VH1 and MTV and soaking all that up. But, probably the first true electronic music I listened to was something like the Chemical Brothers or more random obscure techno that I somehow discovered.
How did you decide to go by ‘Aabo’? Did you go by anything else before taking that name?
I have had more than a few aliases (chuckles). But Aabo is the first two letters of my first and last name together. I wanted it to be a word that technically didn’t exist and that worked perfectly. At one point I wanted to call myself “Two Hands”, but it just didn’t flow well enough.
What was working with the We Got This crew like?
Those guys are good friends of mine. Tiger Fresh and ExoDub specifically have been extremely influential on me as a producer. The first tune I made and was ready to show someone, I sent to them first; they were both super impressed and supportive. I’ve watched them start that collective from the ground up and I was honored to have a tune on the latest compilation. There’s other artists in the crew that I admire as well and hope to collaborate with them soon.
How would you describe your sound?
My sound rides the thin line between hip-hop and house music; I tend to hop back and forth between the two. There’s quite a bit of influence drawing on soul, funk and R&B in there as well.
What does your creative process involve?
It’s always different, but it all starts trying to capture emotion. I find that the best music out there pulls you in and makes you feel strongly about it. I am always trying to inject that same thing into anything I create. Technically though, I either start with trying to craft a really crisp and groovy drum pattern or by writing chord progressions, usually using with a guitar or keys. I like to find a general direction to take the track in, a melodic element of some sort. I usually start with a very short piece of a tune, either 8 or 16 bars and really try to get a vibe going before going further. Its important to make it potent and capture that emotion, first things first.
How is the EP with Lafa Taylor coming? Will you be touring with him in support of it?
Really well! It’s six or seven songs that we wrote in different places over the course of a few months. We’ve elaborated on them all quite a bit and it’s one of the coolest projects I’ve gotten involved with. I love collaborating with vocalists; words are one of the strongest ways to convey emotion and get people excited. Each tune has its own unique process of creation; for several, we brought this incredible group from NYC, called EMEFE, into the process, to help arrange and record horns. Very unique sounding music as far as electronic music goes; lots of organic elements and soulful vocals. There are talks of touring, but there’s nothing set in stone right now. We’re more focused on getting the music out there right now. Lafa is one of my closest friends, so it’s always a pleasure and to work with him. He’s also one of those dude’s that’s been super supportive and inspirational to me from the get-go.
Who are your favorite up & coming artists you think we should keep our eyes out for?
Soulection, I’m a huge fan of them. Proud to be a fan and long-time listener of theirs. A couple other artists i’m feeling in particular are Sam Gellaitry, Kartell and Pomo. Also definitely keep your eyes out for Anderson Paak, he’s an incredible multi-talented artist.