A Walk Down The Sound Path:
Introspective Dreams with Aera
Fascination sure enough takes a part of you, and dreams are more comforting than the waken moment. At a point where the fascination couldn’t be more elevated, Berlin producer Aera walks Profet Chief Ideologue Filip Lindström down The Sound Path in an interview filled with introspectivity and lucid dreaming.
Aera’s »The Sound Path« is based on changes. The album itself is a rolling stone, leaping from one influence to the next time after time. When I speak to the Berlin based producer over the phone, I wonder what kind of changes has sparked »The Sound Path«. It can just as likely be structural changes in society as it may be personal changes that has made the album what it is.
- Changes for me personally was the main motivation for me to actually start writing it, Aera says. There was definitely changes in my personal life right around the end of 2016, early 2017. A lot of things happened really quickly. I was suddenly confronted with loss in my family, and I quit my job that I’d had for five years. It all happened within two or three weeks and I had a feeling that my whole life had been turned upside down and inside out.
While Aera went through severe personal changes, the global political climate overheated with the election of Mr. Trump and the following crazed reactions. This also added to Aera’s sense of confusion, which triggered him to write the first song off of »The Sound Path«, a track with the beautiful title »May Your Heartflame Continue«. To me, the song signals an escape of sort, with its outer worldly sounds and relaxing trippyness. Part of change is a fear of it. Part of the fear is excitement directed towards a new possibility. If »May Your Heartflame Continue« marks a subconscious attempted escape for Aera, from what used to be to something new, then the music sets the lighting for the transition.
- Does »The Sound Path« also see to the changes in electronic music from its beginning until today? I ask Aera over the phone.
- Well, it’s a change in what I want to share with the world, musically, he responds. Before, most of it was very focused on the dance floor. Even if I didn’t do it consciously, most of what I put out up until that moment was somehow meant to make you dance. For me, this is a change since it’s a lot more introspective and calm. If you ask me about general changes in the wide electronic music landscape, I think it’s super hard to make any kind of definite judgement because it’s such a vast field. There isn’t really a mainstream any more, there is just a lot of different small streams next to each other, sometimes mixing with each other. I wouldn’t dare to make any statement on that.
»I’m always looking to be surprised«
»That moment« that Aera is speaking of can only assumingly be the changing point he faced in the beginning of last year. The turbulence in his life must have turned his focus inward, making it less important to provide danceable tracks for the public. Introspectivity (is not a word in the English language, but I don’t care about that minor detail, so I’ll use it anyway because I like the sound of it and it fits my thesis perfectly) can come from maturity, which in turn can come from enduring trauma or life changing experience. Introspectivity (try to see past the fact that this word doesn’t exist, just feel its power) turned outward is my favorite form of entertainment. Artists of any craft who devote the majority of their time to themselves and their emotions, and make art based on it, are far more interesting than any other. What I’ve tried to do with Profet is to create a magazine where the writers can be equally as prominent as the subjects they are covering, sharing as much as possible of themselves. This ideology comes exclusively from my merciless narcissism and the following need to constantly talk about myself. The result of the ideology is interview upon interview where I fight for my right to write as many words about myself as I do about the person I’m interviewing. This is introspectivity (this will be the last time I use this non-existing word, don’t worry) turned outward, and in a way I feel I can find this in »The Soundpath«, however more discrete than my blunt self-proclamations.
Aera. Photo: Tom Select
Aera talks of the many smaller streams that form the river of electronic music. In this piece of introspective work, I feel he has taken in several of those streams to portray his inner changes outward.
- I’ve always been interested in all sorts of different music, especially at home where I spend most of my time listening to music when I’m not out in the club or DJ:ing. I’m always looking for new music and following what’s out there. For this album, I would say I’ve been inspired by old music, like ambient or new age music from the 70’s or 80’s, kraut rock, jazz and also world music in lack of a better term. I don’t really like the term »world music«.
- As you said, electronic music today is not as dance oriented as it was when it begun. In your live performances, are you aiming for a dancing crowd?
- Actually, I’ve just started working with a friend who’s a really good musician, much better than I am. We’re trying to figure out a way to translate the album into a live concert setting. I don’t mind if people dance to it but it’s not the most important thing.
- When you yourself go to another concert, what are you looking for then?
- I’m always looking to be surprised. I love to dance, I love to go out and get lost in the music. I’ve been doing this for a long time, buying records for almost 20 years and making music for almost as long, so it’s still a search for the new thing that makes me excited.
- And how often do you get surprised?
- That’s a really good question. In Berlin, you´re actually kind of spoiled when it comes to the electronic music landscape and what you can do. I have to say that I still get excited though, it still happens.
Aera. Photo: Tom Select
I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: I’m fascinated with Berlin from afar. The fascination tends to turn to an ache when someone like Aera describes the city’s culture and music life. This romanticizing of Berlin was the topic of my interview with American producer Eric Maltz, entitled »A Tale of Two Cities« , where Eric compares Berlin to his native New York City. Living in Stockholm, I dream of the lives people lead in New York and Berlin, altogether manufacturing a self-perceived notion of what the metropoles can offer.
In a recent conversation with Swedish concert promoter and Profet friend Christian Pallin, I began to understand that my idea of Berlin possibly is slightly over-estimated. I have pictured a city where venues as small as the ones in Stockholm are packed all nights of the week, a city with a cultural blood stream that wouldn’t survive without music. I’ve imagined Berlin as a haven for creatives, where all ideas get attention and recognition. I’ve seen Berlin as the soil where anything can grow, and when I write these words down, of course I see that I need to lower my expectations. Reality might be different, and I need to accept that, in order to not be disappointed.
However, what one needs and what one wants are two entirely different things. I want to believe my dream about Berlin, so I’ll stick to it. Aera’s stories of his adopted home town makes it easy for me to continue my dreaming.
- I grew up in a small town, near Hamburg, he tells me. After I finished school, I moved to Hamburg and whenever something was going on there, you kind of had to go. That’s a special energy too, that I often feel when I’m on the road playing in other places where there’s not such a huge supply. When you give the people something, especially if it’s out of the ordinary, they really appreciate it and devour it. In Berlin when something comes up, you might find yourself saying »Well, I could go out tonight, but I could also go out tomorrow or the day after«. That’s why I said you almost get a bit spoiled here in Berlin. It could seem like it makes it a bit harder to find that excitement.
- That element of surprise? I ask Aera.
- Yes, the element of surprise. Well, I still really enjoy living here.
- And has Berlin changed your music in any way?
- I’ll give a general answer, because that’s hard to say. I think that everything that surrounds me in a way changes what I do. I get inspired by almost everything that surrounds me and changes me as a person. So, the city I’m living in definitely has an impact on it, but I can’t say exactly what living in Berlin has done to my music because I don’t know what I’d be doing if I lived somewhere else. Berlin is good for making art because it’s easy to live here without being forced to have that much money. There are a lot of people around who are into art or literature or photography or music, so whenever I step out of my studio, I meet someone I know who is doing something interesting. That is inspiring as well.
As my dream gets more wet for every word Aera speaks about Berlin’s creative environment, he also brings up the perils of a city where everything happens. He says many artists come to Berlin with the intention of working, but instead get lost in the tempting distractions of the night life. For a second I ask myself whether I would become one of those lost creative souls if I followed my dream and moved from Stockholm to Berlin. Partly, I don’t want to find out, I just want to keep on dreaming.