written by Marko Jakob
Pix666: Hey Aaron. Thanks for your time. How are you doing these days, are you alive and well? How are the other guys of Heartlay?
Aaron: Hey there. We’re doing good, definitely alive. Our new album comes out at the end of the month and we’re pretty excited about unveiling this chapter to the world.
Pix666: Please introduce your band Heartlay to the readers in a few short sentences.
Aaron: We are a hybrid-genre band blending elements of metal, electronic music, industrial, melodic rock and more. Being very mindful of the visual and story-telling aspect, we see ourselves as a collective sharing a creative vision that goes beyond the sound, and also includes graphic design, photography and video.
Pix666: … what was your inspiration to become a musician in general? What are your personal favourite bands?
Aaron: I think the first band that made me want to play an instrument was Nirvana. I grew up in an artistic household where music was always there, but it was the first time that I really got caught in the guts, with the desire to make noise like that. Since then, my favorite bands have become Deftones, NIN, The Cure, Slipknot, Depeche Mode, The Prodigy… Even though I’m all about curiosity and trying new thing my classics haven’t changed too much over time.
Pix666: What did you do musically before you founded Heartlay? What have been your best experiences and adventures as a musician so far?
Aaron: Before that I have played in many dead-born local bands in Paris, having multiple roles. Someday I was the singer of a hardcore band, next week I was playing in a black metal band, something else the month after. But I’ve actually learned way more by making a lot of music alone since my early teens, spending most of my free time messing with samples, VST’s and all that stuff.
One day I left a band I was touring with and that’s when started thinking about a building something that could really worth it. Even if we’ve already had lots of great experiences we always hope the best are yet to come.
Pix666: You released your new video ‚We Are All Awake‘ some weeks ago. How were the fans’ reactions to the song and video? Were did you shoot the clip and were there any problems during the shoot due to Covid19 restrictions??
Aaron: We honestly have never met such positive reactions compared to anything we have released so far. In think the project has naturally evolved in its ethos, aestheticism and execution. The video was shot in the same warehouse we used for ‚To The Floor‘ music video. Making it was a pain in the ass as we had to reschedule the shooting so much times because of all the lockdowns and restrictions here, but it was worth the effort.
Pix666: The video has more than 200,000 views on YouTube. Did you expect such a big response?
Aaron: Not that much. It surely means something at our level, yet I’m actually more delighted about the reactions, comments, DM’s, people telling me that these songs are changing something for them, that it means something, that it brings them strength, because that’s why I’m making music.
Pix666: I’m a fan of statistics of all kinds. What about you? Do you look at the numbers of streams, the views on YouTube, or do you know, for example, in which countries the people who listen to your music live?
Aaron: Yeah we actually do the same job as any other record label but just for ourselves, that is why An Exile was created in the first place. We’re all about being self-sufficient as possible in this industry so there’s a lot of time spent on discussing our brand identity, the marketing aspect, numbers, all that stuff.
Pix666: A few weeks ago you released your next single ‘Out Of The Wreckage’. Your last album ‘Attack & Agony’ is from 2019 – do all the new songs announce the next Heartlay album? /How far has the work on the entire album progressed?
Aaron: It is in good continuity from the previous question. All the new singles are included in our new album. I started writing this one back in March 2020 during the first lockdown. When it was announced I immediately took it as an opportunity to write a lot of material without being distracted. I’m proud to say that is it the first time we did absolutely every actions on this album, from recording to mastering, it is a totally handmade piece.
Pix666: How do you generally create your songs? Is there a certain plan? Who in the band is responsible for what?
Aaron: I write the songs. There’s no magic formula for me, my inspiration almost always comes while working on it. Sometimes it starts with a drum sample, sometimes with a guitar riff, sometimes with a synth melody, then my imagination takes control and the track completes itself on its own. The only persistent point is that I always know what kind of emotion i’m looking for at the beginning, yet it often mutates in the process.
Pix666: Have you already made new tour plans – are there already new tour dates or festival dates?
Aaron: The new dates are gonna be announced soon via our social medias.
Pix666: … and did you have to cancel many concerts in the past almost 1 ½ years of the pandemic? How much does such a situation annoy a band?
Aaron: Yeah we actually had to cancel all our first shows outside of France, as well as all the other ones here. It was also a mess to prepare the shoot of our latest music video. For now the band life is still kinda frozen but I take that time to write new material.
Pix666: How do you keep your head above water at the moment? Music productions, like an album or video clips cost a lot of money and the source of income from concerts has disappeared. Are fans buying more shirts and other merch at the moment?
Aaron: It’s annoying to not be able to hit the stage, but I don’t see myself complaining about that when some others are loosing loved ones, people in their families… About the music business, we actually have never sold as much digital music as we did in 2020, the merch still sells, we are fine really. The thing is that most of us work in the sound or film industry, so even if it still costs a lot of money, it’s definitely not as big as if we were outside of all that.
Pix666: What do you currently have in your shop, are there some clothes that the fans should definitely wear in summer?
Aaron: Our classic white logo t-shirt is gonna back in the Bandcamp store real soon, updated with a smoother texture. Some anatomic heart shirts are still available there.
Pix666: Social media and music streaming are both a blessing and a curse for bands. From your point of view, what are the advantages and disadvantages of this development for your band. How much do Heartlay use social media and where are you represented?
Aaron: I consider it as a blessing more than a curse, it perhaps has to do with the fact that I grew up with it. This new era of music marketing allows us to very independent and self-sufficient about every step from the conception to the promotion of the music itself. Personally, I think the minus point of streaming is that people tend to not value the music enough because it is made too easy to switch from a song to another, to skip an artist just because you didn’t like the first second. In all of that you have to create a shit-ton of content to stay relevant, but it’s challenging in a way.
Pix666: As a musician, you surely spend most of your time creating music – but what else do you do in your free time when you want to distract yourself – are there any interesting hobbies you pursue?
Aaron: Most of us are film geeks, we spend a lot of time watching or discussing movies. I always try to find time to paint and draw but it’s getting harder as the band gets bigger. We’re also kinda sporty guys, yet it doesn’t stop us from enjoying a good party.
Pix666: Do you have any other news about your band that you would like to share with the fans?
Aaron: The new album drops on July 30. There’s a lot a new stuff coming,, Stay tuned via our Spotify and social medias.
Pix666: Thank you very much for the interesting answers – Good luck and stay healthy!!!
Aaron: Thank you!
photos © by Sébastien Durand and Camille Leistickow