Nº21: CONVERSATIONS WITH AARON COHEN
photos by David Jaewon Oh
Aaron Cohen is a rising artist from Seattle but resides here in NY. We first got introduced to Aaron in 2013 when my good friend, Colm, had an epic dinner right before the grand opening of the Kidsuper store. I instantly fell head over heels for his music and his calm personality. 5 years later, his growth has been insane, headlining his own tours in Europe, working on new music and gracing covers of amazing publications such as Shoes Up magazine. We sat with him to see what he's been up to and what's next for the booming rapper.
Tell our readers a bit about you. What's new? How have things changed since we spoke to you in 2013?
A lot has changed for me since then. I’ve been fortunate enough to travel around the world on tour. I’ve also just had time to grow as an artist. I think my music has gotten a lot better.
We saw that you did the cover of Shoes Up magazine, one of our favorite French publications. Congratulations on that. Give us your experience and thought process when they first contacted you?
I was excited when I first got the interview. I didn’t know I was going to be on the cover until afterward. That was a good surprise. It’s a really dope magazine and their whole staff was cool. I ended up performing at the magazine release party in Paris and it was lit. It’s really cool to be in a physical magazine because you can show that to your grandparents and say, "look I’m really a rapper". You can show them blog posts and Spotify playlists, but it doesn’t register the same way as Magazine or TV.
How was your tour? How do you think fans related to you throughout the cities and countries?
Tour was amazing. We went to France, Germany, England and even got to play in Budapest, Hungary. The fans show so much love out there. I knew the shows in Paris were gonna be good, but the crowds were crazy at every show in France.
What was your favorite place
Paris was amazing. Nantes, France was really good too. We were there for HIP OP Session, and the crowd was just ready to go crazy. It was my first show during the trip to Europe and it really set things off.
I see that you perform a lot in France. How are the fans out there compared to here in the States?
My fans in France definitely have a special appreciation for what I do. I think they have a real love for underground music and appreciate the raw vibes and aesthetic of my work. I get love in other European countries, but the French audience and I seem to have a real connection. Maybe it’s my style, or my attitude. Whatever it is, I’m grateful for it.
Are you fluent in French? How do you communicate with your French fans?
I wish. No, I’m not fluent at all, I only know a few key phrases. I picked up a little bit during this trip, but the pronunciation is so hard haha. Most of my fans there speak English (or at least speak English way better than I speak French). The connection made through the music is deeper than language. They feel it and understand my style and where I’m coming from.
Favorite song to perform?
Maybe "D.E.N.Y." It’s one of the most recent songs I’ve put out. It’s got a great mix of actual rapping and just pure turn-up. It’s one of those songs, that even if you’ve never heard it before, you’ll be screaming along to the hook by the end of the song. I like high energy shows, whether it’s Flatbush Zombies, Denzel Curry, Travis Scott or whoever, I like when the crowd goes fucking crazy. And that’s the type of energy I bring on that song.
Most asked song to perform?
"Potential Fans". It’s definitely one of my most popular songs, and something a lot of people count on hearing at my shows. It’s dope, people know the words, makes me feel famous and shit.
What other cities in Europe would you like to perform in?
Hmm. I’ve touched a lot of spots in Europe, but I never got to Barcelona. I’ve heard amazing things about that city, I would love to check it out. I also want to get to Stockholm, I know they have a crazy art/music scene out there. I’ve heard they have some of the most high energy crowds. Honestly, I’m trying to go everywhere. I need to get to Tokyo asap, I’ve never been, and I know I’ve got an audience out there.
"I’m not a high maintenance person. I'm very lowkey. But underneath that, I really have endless energy as long as I’m working towards something I really believe in. "
What’s your must-have essential for your tour?
I need my headphones and my phone. If I have those two things I’m good. Everything else is extra.
What’s next for you now that you’re done with the tour? New music or taking a rest?
Never taking a rest. I’ve been working on new music during the tour, before the tour, after tour doesn’t matter haha. I’m working on finishing up my new project. It’s like 90 percent done, and I just shot a couple of music videos for it. I really can’t wait to put this out.
I’m sure your body must be affected greatly by touring. How do you recuperate?
I was sleeping on a broken futon in a tiny recording studio for a year before the tour. So relatively speaking, tour’s like a vacation. I’m not a high maintenance person. I’m very lowkey. But underneath that, I really have endless energy as long as I’m working towards something I really believe in.
What’s a day like during your “off-season”? If that’s even something for musicians, seems like you guys are always working nonstop.
Yeah, there’s no “off season” really. I try to see my family when I’m not working. Or get laid. Or watch some serial killer or outer space documentary. Honestly, I’m pretty focused on the music, but it’s good to get distracted every once in a while. I tend to get tunnel vision working on music and sometimes it’s good to look around and see what’s going on in the world.
What’s your current playlist looking like?
My playlist right now is a bunch of beats. Really I listen to a lot of stuff though.
Are you heading back to Europe anytime soon?
I don’t have the dates yet, but yeah I’m sure I’ll be back there soon. I plan on touring out there off the release of my next project and potentially before that if something comes up.
What do you listen to that inspires your music?
I get inspired by excellence, but I also get inspired by innovation. I need to listen to classic albums, the type of music that leaves you asking “how were they possibly that inspired?” But I also need to listen to all the new shit. I love hearing something that doesn’t sound like anything I’ve heard, that’s the most exciting thing about music. Something new can change your whole perception.
Do you appreciate the direction of hip-hop right now?
I think that’s a complicated question. The majority of music is always going to be wack, that’s just how things work. I think nowadays it’s so easy to record and release music, that there is just more content than ever before. That means there’s lots of cool experimental stuff, but it also means there’s tons of trash. There’s no test for getting access to the internet, there’s no filter on what makes its way onto SoundCloud. If you’re willing to invest the time in finding out who’s good, I think right now is a great time for rap music.
Should we expect a new
Yes. New album coming soon. I’m wrapping up the last couple of tracks and working on the visuals.
Listen to AARON COHEN’S ‘SEE RED’ album below: