In his recently released ‘The Aaron LP’ SonReal is sharing his most honest work yet. “I always wanted to say more with my music.” SonReal Says of his new album “I feel like on this new album I did what I wanted to do without any expectation and I talked about things that were really scary to me.”
The Canadian artist proclaims that this album is different than anything he has done previously. He is quick to shout out producer Trevor Muzzy for showing him all that he is capable with this latest project ‘The Aaron LP’. A collaboration that he referred to as being life changing.
“I was so scared to put it out because it is so much different than anything I have ever released and the reception has been higher and greater than anything I have ever done.”
‘The Aaron LP’ is a deliberate and honest album that captures many emotions from SonReals life. Listening the album you will be taken on a Journey from a song he wrote after hearing about the death of Mac Miller, the song about his relationship with his wife, excerpts from fan letters thanking him for his role in saving their lives. The album is strong from start to finish, each track flowing into the next and is one to keep coming back to.
Check out my full interview with SonReal where we talk more about his new album, transitioning from funny music videos to saying everything he wants to in his music, being one hundred percent himself, his quest for happiness, and more below.
Hi I’m with SonReal over the phone for an interview and this is cool for me! I’m from Utah and as I was doing research for this interview I came across these videos you did with Shonduras who I love on YouTube and I grew up in a town close to where he is at. So I was super excited to see the making of your music video for ‘Last Year’ on his channel, and I saw you raft the river I used to raft in the summers on an air mattress and it was all super cool and…
SonReal: Oh crazy! Yeaaa man the air mattress was actually pretty gnarly. Shonduras has been a great friend of mine, somebody that just kind of reached out to me really early man like kind of before anyone was really reaching out to me. Shaun just reached out to me and said like “Yo I love your music, I love what you’re doing. Keep going.” He never really even asked anything from me or wanted anything from me or anything, it was just genuine support, and he’s a real genuine dude. So then one time he just invited me and my homie Heath out there to basically go and hang out with him. We went and hung out and it was like literally like the best time ever. He’s one of the nicest people I’ve ever met in my life.
That’s sick. And SonReal you are like pretty known for the videos you’ve won awards for music videos you’ve done. Watching the creation of ‘Last Year’ was cool because it was done with no money, and it was all sort of spontaneous on a cabin trip. What was that like and how was it different from other ones you have made?
SonReal: Yeah I mean I think a great music video it has nothing to do with budget, a great music video is from a great idea. I have shot videos for sixty thousand dollars that have absolutely bombed and just not really been a great video. But then I have shot videos for literally three hundred dollars that have raked like six million views on YouTube and stuff like that. So it’s like… it’s really the idea. We had no idea we were going to shoot a music video when I was out with Shaun, but I did have my videographer with me because I just wanted to get some content with those guys because they are so good at content. So we were doing some like epic stuff and I just said “yo what if we just start playing the song and see what happens?” We just kind of did that and it turned into a really organic video that um was just a cool video. I just wanted to get something out for my fans and it was kind of tying people over for the album.
That’s awesome, and that leads me to you’re on tour now… thank you for taking the time for the call. Where are you right now, are you on the bus still?
SonReal: I’m in Portland. The bus just stopped man and I hopped out of it and am on the street talking to you man. We just got to Portland.
You’re on tour for your new album ‘The Aaron LP’ what has the reception been like so far? I saw your Instagram post this morning of a really young girl singing every word to ‘1000 Highways’ with you as you performed and what do things like that feel like for you?
SonReal: Yeah man it has been honestly bizarre. I just put out that album nineteen days ago now and um just the response to it has been ridiculous. It is unlike anything I have ever felt. I have always made music from a place of creativity first. But you have like a lot of people in your ear especially when you sign to a major label, you have a big team most of the time. My team is incredible, they are the best ever. But I do think that this is the first album that my team went ahead and said “I want you to make what you want to make. Let’s not worry about what has worked for us in the past, we already did that and it is working.” So I recorded an album basically like I was in a room by myself just talking to myself and saying things that I wanted to say and being inspired by things I have been through in my life.
I always wanted to say more with my music. I always felt like the funny like really funny videos, and the rapping the way I was doing it was always very unique. Nobody was really doing it the way I was doing it and I held onto that really tightly and I did that for a long time. I feel like on this new album I did what I wanted to do without any expectation and I talked about things that were really scary to me, a lot of shit that like…you know songs I had to send my mom before I put it on the album to make sure she was okay with me saying it. That type of thing makes it a lot deeper.
I think vocal performance and everything, I worked with a producer named Trevor Muzzy on it and Trevor changed my life. Like he opened up my eyes to what I was capable of and he said something like “look nobody sings like you, when you just sing a song lets just give people chills and do what we do.” You know what I mean? and he’s like so musical he plays guitar, he plays bass, he plays keys, he engineers the sections, he mixes my album and is a world class mixing engineer. The guy really pushed me to do what I wanted to do. There were so many great producers on this project that helped as well.
It was really just my most honest body of work man and it is showing at these shows. It is bizarre to see people singing every word to songs that have only been out for nineteen days like I said. I was so scared to put it out because it is so much different than anything I have ever released and the reception has been higher and greater than anything I have ever done. Just the other day we did our highest daily listeners ever on Spotify in history and that was like fifteen days after the album came out, and before that my highest was the day the album came out. So it’s like we are hitting these new milestones that are like I don’t know man it’s just like honest shit wins. Real music wins. These songs are way better than anything I have done before they are if you just look at them structurally if you look at them mix wise, look at them writing, the penmanship on it and stuff they are just way way far ahead of anything I have ever done before and I think it is showing. There are more people at the shows and yeah man it just feels really good
And when that acceptance is coming from you being more open and honest with you and your lyrics, how much more fulfilling is that maybe in comparison to one of those songs with a funny video you mentioned earlier? Like you are singing about loss, or the women in your life on this album, and how does that compare, and how is this at another level?
SonReal: You know what it is man? It is like I just get to be myself one hundred percent. When you put yourself out there all the way, like I mean I didn’t hide anything. It was everything from yeah me talking about my family in detail super detailed, to me talking about my wife and our relationship, and then like ‘Healing’ is all about letters I have gotten from fans about suicide and how my music helped them and that is why I do this shit. I want to make people feel good, and I want to do my part in helping people feel better about themselves. Do my part in giving people have a good time at a show. Or do my part on maybe making you maybe think about something that maybe you had the wrong thoughts on before or something like that, whatever it is. And more so than that just like to tell my story. I want to tell my story. I want to be more open with my fans.
Man, we have no videos locked and loaded for this album, like zero. We did that strategically. This was the first time ever I put out an album without it and it’s like it is translating and my followers are going up more than they ever have been, my monthly listeners, we are getting playlists I never got and all this type of shit, and bro we have no videos! I based my whole career off videos! My whole career has been based around visuals and how crazy my visuals are, like I’m known for it we’ve got over a quarter million subscribers on YouTube based on my visuals, and it’s like this is the first time that we just let the music speak. I just didn’t want people to listen to it with their eyes man I just wanted people to listen to this music and just feel it, and live with it too because nobody can have an opinion on in just nineteen days on music. Music is something like this is a classic album this album like this is my first classic album, I’ve never done this before. All of my albums before and I’ll be the first to say this even ‘One Long Dream’ the album I put out before this felt like a miss and I felt like it was disconnected, I was trying new things, and I was throwing shit against the wall and hoping shit stuck, and like some of those songs did really good and I perform them now and they are great records. But I think that this is my first front to backer. I have never done a front to backer before and this is my first time, each song even like the track listing like track and the way songs go into each other without having to do like a no mixtape thing and making them bleed into each other. The way that they sonically go together I’m talking BPM’s, I’m talking key, I’m talking like concepts and all that kind of stuff, it is much more thought out than anything I’ve ever done before. And I really have to give all the praise to the guy that executive produced it Trevor Muzzy, my manager Byron Wilson, my label Black Box, these are people that really got behind me, my booking agent Adam Sylvester, my team, my band, I had people co-write on this and it was kind of like a collective once I had all the music and I knew how I liked it my team really brought it to life.
That is exactly what I was going to say in my next question it is like you’re reading my notes. This album ‘The Aaron LP’ is one you can listen to all the way through without even noticing and so…
SonReal: Well thank you so much dude, that means a lot.
Of course, and so yeah it started off perfectly with ‘Fearless’ which is my favorite song on the album and it’s incredible.
SonReal: Thank you again! That has been a lot of peoples favorite song (laughs).
Oh it had me from the very first time I listened. I read where you were talking about the creation of the album and it was after the news of Mac Miller’s death and it was a time that you didn’t even feel like writing. When you are writing in that kind of space how do you capture the emotions that you feel when you don’t exactly want to be experiencing that?
SonReal: I mean I think that is when artists write their best shit. I am not like a tormented artist. There are a lot of artists that like are so incredible because of negative things that have happened in their life or whatever. I am like a happy dude, I live a good life. But I feel, like you know what I mean? I felt when Mac Miller died and I felt that pain and I think that is why some of the greatest artists of all time they had that pain all the time people like Kurt Cobain, Amy Winehouse, Freddy Mercury and all sorts of artist felt that pain. Then for me it was like when things happen in my life like when I lost my pops, I lost my father in 2016. I wrote like six songs trying to I guess like justify my dad and I couldn’t do it and then one day I like seriously just poured out a glass of whiskey and just wrote a song for guitar. I didn’t feel like writing that night and I just did it and you felt it in the record and I think when I wrote ‘Fearless’ it was the same thing.
I had heard Mac Miller died that day, I remember exactly where I was and the things I was going through. One thing I said was that I had to dedicate one song on my album to Mac Miller and I don’t want to say Mac Miller on the song, I don’t want anybody to know that it is for Mac Miller or give any preconceived notions because I don’t know Mac Miller, like I went on tour with him and stuff but I didn’t know Mac Miller. But he is somebody that like really inspired me as an artist to be different, and fearless like Mac Miller was fearless as hell. Dude he went on and came out with ‘K.I.D.S.’ and then he went and did ‘Blue Slide Park’, everyone ridiculed him for the frat-rap thing, so he went and did ‘Macadelic’, then he went on and he did all these records. I remember right before he died so into the new album he dropped before he passed and thinking he was one of the greatest artists of our generation but nobody would say that until he passed, you know what I mean?
But I don’t know, I think you make the best music when you feel hard. All of the songs on my album I had to get to a place that I had to feel it to write it. If I was going to write it it had to be something that was like serious. That is why nothing on my album is about nothing. You will go on to every other album I have ever done, I have songs all of the time that are about nothing. There is just like me kind of like stuntin around like Repo Man ” Hot damn, why they lookin’ at me for? I been sittin’ back, starin’ through the peephole.” Like it doesn’t mean anything. ‘Can I Get A Witness’ even is like it’s just a fun record, ‘Everywhere We Go’ that’s a fun record. A lot of my old music I made a lot of fun shit and now this album I was just like “Man I want to say something to the world, I want to leave my stamp. If I am gone after this album, if I go get hit by a bus then I want to leave something for people to listen to that is going to make people feel good and hear what I am saying.” I think with this album I realized that I already did the fun stuff and it is out there for the world and I love those songs, I perform them every single night those older songs, I love them. But where I am at and what I want to do musically is this new sound.
I love that, and that is how I was going to describe ‘The Aaron LP’ in my write up is that all of it seemed very deliberate. So I wanted to ask what you most want people to know about SonReal as time goes on from this album?
SonReal: I guess that the main thing is that everyone is just on a quest for happiness. For me since I have gotten married, since I lost my father, since I got more success in music the things that make me happy aren’t material things. I think that it sounds cliche to say but like go do the things that make you happy, and the things that make your heart tick because tomorrow is never promised, it’s just not. If you can think like that it makes you want to do things a little bit more deliberately. Like what if I was to tell you you only had five years to live you know what I mean? Like I think like that sometime. So it is like yo do I want to do another fun record? No I want to make this album called ‘The Aaron LP’ that I just use my government name on the front and I just have a photo of me at an empty birthday party just like whatever. So yeah everyone is on a quest for happiness and this is my truth on finding mine, because I am happier than I have ever been in my entire life and it is because I let my pain out, and let my joy out. I had fun on this album too like ‘Parachutes’ and ‘Heart’ those records are fun. I just say like be yourself. I think it is really just a quest for finding my happiness and exploring shit that scares the fuck out of me.
I was so scared putting it out! I wasn’t like scared but like I knew it was my best shit and everyone was telling me I was on another wave and I was gassed. But I was just hoping it was going to do really good because I had put so much into it. But then the day before I put it out I called my manager and was like “bruh I do not care if this gets more than ten plays, I legitimately don’t care if this gets one play. This album is fucking insane. I’m just going to listen to this the rest of life. Even if I have to go find another job whatever and if nobody wants to listen to my music anymore and I completely blew it on this album I will full heartedly still say this is by far my best work and this is going to change somebodies life and fucking what more could you want than that? And that gave me peace too.
I wanted to go back to your tour. I wanted to see if you had any funny stories so far on tour? and things you are most looking forward to for the rest of tour?
SonReal: I mean we have just started on tour we have done five shows now. I do have to say this, it is way more apparent that people are more connected to what I am doing now than ever before. The fans are just singing louder, and like this sounds kind of materialistic but bro I am doing like three times the amount of merch I used to do. Like the merch is just going like crazy. I was talking to my manager about that this morning and how it is a testament to how excited people are about the music and how die hard the fans are. We have just been smashing on merch and it is unheard of.
But I have such a great band man. If there is something I would like people to know about this tour is like it is the most musical performance I have ever done. I have great lighting, my homie Johnny is doing all the lights. I’ve got an incredible band, guitar, I play acoustic on it, we’ve got live keys, we have drums, we have my DJ with all the stems and he is also playing keys as well. It is like really musical and we just kind of take people through a journey and it is like a really theatrical performance and I am super excited about it. It is definitely the hardest performance I have ever done because I never had to do vocal warm ups before, I never had to take things as seriously as I do now and it is definitely like a lot more to take in but I really enjoy it man.
You are on my notes again because I wanted to ask about tour to set up for the full band and live show experience and you answered it perfectly. I am excited to see your show in Utah. Jumping over that question I want to ask you one that I ask in every interview and first does SonReal like karaoke?
SonReal: Do I like Karaoke? Personally… I’m just going to be dead ass honest with you…nah. Nah, I don’t like it. It is cool, like I like being in the energy of it but I don’t like doing it. I am always on stage and shit and I just like when other people are up there or I feel like that dude if I go up there. Usually I just butcher a song when I do it and like sing off key, but I do like watching other people do karaoke. I enjoy watching my wife do karaoke that is like the best thing I have ever seen! So I do like karaoke but I just don’t do it personally.
No thank you for your honesty! These are the answers I love. It’s funny. So the question I ask for that is you mentioned butchering songs if you sing. What would be your go-to song for karaoke? As well as you mentioned you love watching your wife do it, what would her go-to song be?
SonReal: So I will do like a Shania Twain, or Backstreet Boys is always a go-to. And my wife she will do like Beyonce or she will try to do a Snoop Dogg song or something and she goes out there! (laughs)
So you are on tour now, what is next for SonReal once you get off of tour?
SonReal: Um after tour I am just going to go back to the studio and start recording again. I wanted to do some festivals and have those things lined up and there is some of that in the fall as well. I just wanna explore more what I am doing right now, I really love the style of music I am doing right now. I think no one is doing it the way I am doing it, I’m excited to just explore and keep making creative music and take this to the next level man. Me and my team are so ambitious and I have been doing this over half my life man every single year putting out projects and its like I don’t plan on stopping, I plan on going faster, I plan on going higher, so I want to go to the studio and make the best shit of all time. I want to make the best songs of all time, that’s what I want to do.
I love that, you got a fan with me. I will be there in Utah and am excited to come out, and thank you for your time.
SonReal: Sick man, I’m excited. Thank you so much dude and great interview! I love doing great interviews!