Emerging Caribbean born and bred indie folk songwriter Aaron Wylder aims to make a statement regarding mental health, finding companionship, not giving up on our dreams, and roughhousing with his brothers. And on his upcoming 4-track EP, The King of My Own Heart, – which drops Friday June 23rd – he does just that.
With a range of styles within the indie singer-songwriter sphere, Wylder enmeshes the modern folk picker with a hearty dash of acoustic pop. Whether it’s songs of hope, songs of wonder, or songs of longing, Wylder speaks to the realists who see the world around them for what it is: imperfect and ever-changing.
Wylder spent the first 14 years of his life on the Cayman Islands before his family decided it was best to pack up and move to Victoria, British Columbia, where the songwriter is still based today.
While each of the four tracks on the upcoming album are unique and cater to the various human conditions, perhaps the most notable track is the third one, “Horseplay,” which is a raucous ode to Wylder’s two brothers.
It immediately shoots out of a cannon, and without question is the barn burnin’ banger of the EP. “I am one of three brothers and I sit in the middle of the pack. There wasn’t much to do growing up in the Caribbean, so we made our own fun: fishing, blowing stuff up, backyard sports, home movies, you name it. Brothers need to be wild. It is a part of what binds us together for life,” he says. The other tracks include “Down on Dopamine,” “Woman,” and “On Your Dreams.”
The King of My Own Heart follows Wylder’s previous EP, Adventure Songs, which dropped earlier this year in January.
We got to chat with Wylder to learn more about his unique upbringing, the upcoming EP, and much more.
It’s pretty rare to meet someone who grew up in the Caribbean. Can you talk about your upbringing and the influence it had on you?
I was born on Grand Cayman, which is one of three islands in the Cayman Islands. It’s located near Cuba and Jamaica. I spent the first 14 years of my life there. I had a very genuine Caribbean lifestyle: barefoot, fishing at 6:30 in the morning, spending time in the mangroves and the beaches, exploring wildlife, playing soccer, and that was pretty much it.
Did you enjoy it?
I loved it. It was an incredible place to grow up, and an incredible place to raise a young family, because there’s such an adventurous element to it. But it was a very small town on a small island. As small as you can possibly imagine. Like the same 20 kids in my grade for my entire schooling career. So you really feel like a kind of family there, but it’s also very isolating. There’s beauty in isolation and being in a tropical oasis, and it’s kind of your escape from the rest of the world, but depending on what you want to do in life, it’s very limiting.
So did you have any inkling that you wanted to make music and write songs while you were living there or did that come later in Canada?
Well my grandfather bought me a piano, like a little electric piano, when I was 8-years-old. I wanted to play the guitar and there was this music shop with only a few bass guitars and acoustic guitars. I just looked at the bass and thought it was less threatening, so I bought that when I was around 12. I eventually got a Yamaha acoustic, and I remember thinking in middle school ‘I want to be a musician, this is what I want to do.’
So you’ve got your new EP, The King of My Own Heart, dropping next Friday. Are there any overarching themes or motifs behind these songs?
For sure. So they’re all written in the last five months, and the best way to describe them are trials, tribulations, and celebrations of life. Starting with the first song, “Down on Dopamine,” it’s about the struggle of daily life with varying degrees of how down we can be. We all feel it, we all share it, but it’s all relative. “Woman” is about the idea of realizing as a man I’m ready to invest in a real woman and a real partner. “Horseplay” is about that need as brothers to let your emotions out and go fight and be idiots. And “On Your Dreams” is simply about not giving up on your dreams. They’re all linked in human emotion.
Where was it recorded and who helped produce it?
It was recorded and mixed at a studio here in Victoria called Catalogue Studios. I didn’t have a producer. I did have a friend, Michael Wilford, who drummed and played percussion on it. And the mastering was done at CPS Studios in Vancouver.
Do you find determining the order of songs on the album to be a challenge, and how important is that to you?
For sure. I find it really hard. I think the first thing you think about as a modern singer-songwriter is the attention span of listeners. I kind of structured it in a way that I wanted the listener to feel like they’re on a little 12-minute journey.
Is there a song on the album that was the most difficult to write/record for one reason or another?
They all had their own little challenges. I also pushed myself to a whole new place when making these songs. I think when you’re in the moment and in the studio, you’re so excited, and it’s easy to let your standards slip a little bit. Because you’re like ‘yeah that sounds great, it’s fine’, but I really tried with these four songs to not leave a stone unturned. I was there 8 hours a day three days straight, and I can’t in my life remember a time I was more tired. Because you just leave it all out there.
What does success as a musician and songwriter mean to you?
I just want to be heard. I want to play stadiums and arenas. I want my songs to be played on the radio, and I want to make a name for myself.
What does a dream gig look like for you?
Right now the dream gig would be if I could open for The Sam Roberts Band. I’m really inspired by them because they’re Canadian. I’ve just always felt proud to be Canadian.
What are some of your goals post album release?
So the record release is on June 23rd at midnight, so on the 22nd I’m putting on a show at The Duke Saloon with a couple sweet openers. I play at 11, I finish my set, and the record drops immediately. It’s a pretty cool little setup. After that I’m working on putting together shows and maybe a little tour.