For the first 14 years of his life, Aaron Wylder rarely needed shoes.
His exotic world growing up in the Cayman Islands was small, but Wylder dreamed big, beyond the mangroves he traversed and the dawn fishing excursions. At eight-years-old he got an electric piano from his grandfather, and knew he wanted to expand on his instrumental frontier. But even so, there’s not much on a small town on a small island to do much with it. The local music shop had slim options, and at 12, he purchased a “less threatening” bass guitar. He would then graduate to a Yamaha acoustic guitar, and it was off to the races.
When Wylder and his family moved (far) north to Victoria, British Columbia, at 14, his world became physically larger, and so did his musical ambitions (and probably the music store selection). Wylder has since planted his roots there, soon growing a musical identity of folk and Americana with a touch of pop within the Victoria music scene.
His new 4-track EP, The King Of My Own Heart, which officially dropped today June 23rd, reflects the intimate nature of growing up in a small world that could only be expanded by longing and imagination. Packed tight and for the modern attention span, the 12-minute acoustic folk-pop journey scrapes the topics of mental health, companionship, brotherly love, and chasing your dreams. It follows his 3-track EP in January, Adventure Songs.
Wylder sings with soft, soul-baring honesty on the opening track of the EP, “Down On Dopamine.” The message of coping with depression is clear, simple, and is sung to spite his own sadness. Its rolling acoustic guitar lifts the message above expressing feeling down, and gives the listener an uplifting feeling, culminating when Wylder sings, “I’m feeling alright / Well, I’m feeling just fine.”
All Wylder wants on the next track, “Woman,” is a trusty female companion. He expresses his readiness for a life partner, and is eager to devote his emotional efforts to another human being. Wylder’s voice carries the beat of the song, sometimes silencing the instrumentals to lament his desire: “I need a woman.” The chorus has waves of acoustic pop-punk in it, and almost as if Wylder wrote this song to sing on the beach, perhaps to woo said companion.
“Horseplay” is the barn-burner of the EP, and arguably the highlight of the four tracks. With plenty of “wee-hoos!” (the Canadian yee-haw), Wylder’s unrelenting acoustic guitar tells you to get amped, and perfectly evokes the rough and tumble message in the song: brotherly love. “We’re just boys / We want to horseplay / Can we go outside / I want to get hurt today,” he sings, inviting the audience to jump and yearn for the simpler days when getting hurt roughhousing with your siblings was all you wanted to do.
The final track of the EP, “On Your Dreams,” attempts to break down the wall between Wylder and his listeners. It addresses them directly in a simple yet inspirational message: “Don’t give up on your dreams,” he sings. The pop in his voice is apparent in this track, like a raspier Jack Johnson. The sentiment is clear and laid out plainly like the rest of his tracks. Wylder himself is following his dreams as a songwriter, leading by example in this regard, and hoping to inspire others to not give up. Perhaps the message is both a mantra for him, and to influence his audience.
Last night on June 22nd, Wylder followed his dreams at The Duke Saloon, “Victoria’s Premier Country Music Venue.” He performed while awaiting The King Of My Own Heart to officially reach the world at midnight.
With a unique background and perspective, Aaron Wylder has managed to piece together a catchy, relatable collection of songs in The King of My Own Heart.