All music & lyrics by Aaron Daniel Gaul (ADG) except Indica by ADG & Scott Frenchek
All tracks guitars, bass, percussion & vocals by ADG except harmony vocals on Burgundy by Sara B. Simpson
All tracks recorded & engineered by ADG
All tracks mixed and mastered by Michael Dinse
Produced by ADG & Michael Dinse
Cover art by Justin Yingling
Special thanks to Michael Dinse, Tom Ross, Scott Frenchek, Sara B Simpson, Mike Orr, Justin Yingling, Tom Gaul, Sarah Staub, Mike Van Jura and Jack Gaul
©2011 Aaron Daniel Gaul, all rights reserved
for booking contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Aaron Daniel Gaul
Published by Fly Magazine: May 2010
Story: Keith Wilson
“Folk-coustic loop-adelic one-man funky jam.”
That’s how Enola artist Aaron Daniel Gaul describes his music and performance – but not without a hearty, baffled laugh.
“I guess my sound is kind of hard to describe,” he says, “especially for me.”
Ultimately, Gaul’s approach is in keeping with his jam scene roots and his affinity for tie-dye. It’s improvisational, organic and resistant to stylistic constraints or easily captured sound bytes.
“I play a lot of different kinds of music and I listen to a lot of different kinds of music – country, bluegrass, jazz, reggae, rock, new age, folk …,” Gaul explains. “I used to be into heavy metal when I was a kid.”
Even the late King of Pop seems to have left a mark on Gaul’s sound. “One of my biggest influences was Michael Jackson when I was about 14. So I have a heavy R&B vocal overtone on a lot of my stuff,” he says.
So, how does one person with one guitar cover all of this territory on stage? This is Gaul’s specialty.
We have all seen street performers with various mallets and tambourines attached to their limbs, maybe a harmonica around their neck and kick drum at their feet. This creates a performance that is often fun to watch, but where the music rarely transcends the spectacle. But thanks to technology, a new crop of eccentric performers are reinventing this one-man-band aesthetic and injecting a new degree of musicality into it.
Gaul entered the fold nearly 10 years ago after hearing concert footage from Keller Williams, a jam scene king who uses looping technology to create a full band sound. Piece by piece, he lays down tracks from keyboards, bass, drums, and layers them into patchwork songs that he can then sing and strum over.
“It really interested me so much that I decided to check it out for myself,” Gaul says. “So I got my first looper probably in 2002.”
After years of experimenting and practicing, Gaul has learned to use the same technique to craft a sound all his own. He says, “It really is a lot more fun. It frees me up to really expand and make a lot more of a unique sound than I could with just me and my acoustic.” Not only is Gaul free of the traditional singer-songwriter constraints, but he doesn’t have to deal with the opinions and schedules of other musicians in a traditional band arrangement. “Being in a band and working with other people and agreeing about how things should sound is not easy,” he says. “So, I really enjoy the solo act, because it’s what I want and how I want it. I kind of like it that way.”
Looping technology has been embraced by everyone from underground phenom Theresa Andersson, who creates quirky pop masterpieces in her kitchen with an array of instruments and effects pedals, to electronica maven Imogen Heap, who has made the technique a bit more mainstream with her solo performances, incorporating all manner of sounds, even employing tiny microphones stuck to her wrists to capture various sounds.
“I’m noticing that more and more people are starting to use ‘the loop,’” Gaul attests. “I felt fairly unique when I started, aside from getting the idea from Keller Williams … but I think I still use it in a way a lot of people don’t.
“I record a rhythm as I’m playing it. Then I can play it back and record other things on top of it,” he continues. “I can tap on the guitar a little bit and make some percussive sounds. I’ve got pedals that help me make bass sounds, and I’ve got other pedals that give me just different textures to work with up there.” Gaul builds a song one element at a time, but then the challenge is to wrap it all up when there are various virtual “tracks” repeating. Gaul explains his solution, saying, “It has a tendency to start out acoustic and then as it goes through the song I’ll usually end up organic again at the end, come back out of it and just be acoustic at the end.”
The looping phenomenon is a great liberator on stage, and in many ways this might be an extension of how the field of recorded music has been evolving and growing over the last half century or so. “Making a record” used to suggest that a band set up in a room with a handful of microphones and rolled tape until they got a keeper, and then it was off to the radio stations and printed to vinyl for the consumers. The studio eventually made multi-tracking possible, which then became an art form in itself. Playing loops on a stage is really just a means of taking that one step further and bringing the studio itself onto the stage. So, creating an album of this music is, well, kind of a step backward. For most though – Gaul included – it’s a necessary step worth taking in order for the songs to live a full life.
“I’m working on an EP right now,” he says. “It’s kind of my first real studio release. I try to take advantage of the fact that I have, you know, the overdub capability to add instruments, and I do all the instruments – drums, bass and keys and everything – myself. You’d sort of call it a band, but the drums are more like hand drums – conga and a lot of extra percussion.”
Gaul is a consummate live performer very comfortably identified with the jam scene, citing major influences such as Frank Zappa, Phish and the Grateful Dead. In keeping with that tradition, his recording is really meant to capture the live experience, rather than the other way around. “I’ve done the recordings in a way that build in the same way the live show does,” he says. But the transcendent live music experience is the defining expression for Aaron Daniel Gaul. Reflecting on a particularly special show he played recently, Gaul says, “It really is a communication, a language between the audience and musician, and when that energy from the audience feeds you, it makes you play better.
“It’s really hard to describe, but there’s no other feeling like it.”