An Old Soul, Living Youthfully
Maybe he’s old at heart, but a vibrant, weird, and exciting man all together with a lot of amazing talent to share.
Alex Aiono is one of the kindest souls I could have had the pleasure of speaking with. With music, passion, love, charisma, and a little bit of weirdness, Aiono is a charming individual. Well-known for his incredible YouTube mashups (watch below), Aiono has built a brand for himself hosting 5.3 million subscribers. The 21-year-old singer/songwriter is a multi-faceted musician, with an affinity for half-dozen instruments and on top of that, a voice with amazing range.
With a Samoan-American background and born in Phoenix, Arizona, the pop-star eventually decided at the young age of 14 to move with his family to L.A. to pursue his music fully.
Aiono eventually began to release his own original music such as “Work The Middle”, “Question,” and “Hot2Touch” (featuring the great DJ Felix Jaehn). He has now recently released his new single, “Does It Feel Like Falling” with an accompanying music video that emulates the emotions of joy and good times (watch it below). Aiono is now in the works of putting together his debut album with his label Interscope Records!
[The soulful songster will be on tour at the start of the new year for his headlining Feels Like Tour with special guest Trinidad Cardona. Tickets are now available! To see the lineup for the tour, scroll to the bottom!]
Now, I had the pleasure of speaking to this music adventurer, and came to find out that he was honestly one of the most down-to-earth, genuine artists I have had the chance to interview. Playing with Percy, his cat, while we were chatting, we discussed topics ranging from his favorite artists, to his music, the music video set, and how he’s truly an older soul living youthfully.
As he is about to embark on his headlining tour, the Feel Like Tour, I asked what was processing through his mind, what he was excited for and what fans should be excited for.
“Man, I’m so excited because I’ve done a lot of tours before but I’ve never headlined a show. So, I’m excited because it’s my tour, I can do whatever I want with it. If I want to throw a cake at somebody’s face, I can do that, and I can make the rules for it (the show). I’m excited for the fans to see a show that’s mine.”
He goes on explaining how he is ecstatic to be controlling how long his sets will go on for and which songs he plays (especially unreleased ones, which fans should be ready for!).
“It’s been so much fun. I feel so lucky to be on this journey and getting to hang out with the amazing fans I have on tour and elsewhere. I love the working aspect of it and I love working hard, but I also love being with the fans and getting to celebrate just life in general and getting to do what I love” he says proudly.
Since he had just released his latest single “Does It Feel Like Falling” along with the fun, vintage looking music video, I asked if there was anything that was pretty funny that happened on set. He mentioned how that day was just a blazing, record-breaking hot day, and that they were all dying from the heat, and then he turned around to see some of the cast members shaving one of the actors’ heads (shown in the music video), and he had no idea that that was going to happen. All in all, it was a good time for everyone there.
It’s hard to believe that at such a young age (the same age as me!), this 21-year old has worked with some amazing artists both on YouTube and in the general music industry. It only shows the dedication that Aiono has put into his craft. He has always been open to collaboration, especially when they show a potential that he wants to help out.
“The biggest thing is if I think you are a good person and you’ve got a great talent, I would love to collaborate with you. Doesn’t matter famous or not famous, lots of followers or no followers, I see the real raw talent, the real person.”
His inspirations have come from a majority of the people he has had the chance of working with, but if there was anyone he could work with, there were two. “Pharrell is like the embodiment of amazing person / ridiculous musical talent. He’s definitely at the top of my list, as well as, Justin Timberlake, who I think is the same, at least in my eyes, an amazing human being and an amazing musician as well,” Aiono remarks with excitement.
Of course, because of this comment, I had to ask him if he had heard the new N.E.R.D track. “Yes, I did! I listened to it non-stop. Also, because Rihanna is like my celebrity crush. She’s like the queen celebrity crush. I go back and forth on a lot of celebrity crushes, but for someone who is like an all time, total celebrity crush, Rihanna is it.” Aiono says that emphatically. I then chimed in laughing, “So, ‘Lemon’ for was like a double crush on the track!”
“Ya, it was perfect!” he chimes back.
I wanted to know a little more about his musical process, where the inspiration stems from and where the creativity flows. He gave me a really solid answer that I thought was so relevant to the generation of music that we live in today. “When I write music, it’s always different. Sometimes I pull out the soulful, little bit older, neo-soul side of me, like I grew up listening to John Legend, and Stevie Wonder, and Lauryn Hill, and sometimes I want it to be more upbeat, more fun, and I think of current songs and I think of current artists like Jon Bellion, The 1975, and even Kendrick Lamar, and the way that he times things and is so honest about everything. It’s great, I love how everybody in the world listens to everything now. I feel like if you ask anybody that was born in the 90’s what music they listen to, they’d be like ‘Oh, I listen to everything’, nobody would be like ‘I listen to rock n’ roll, that’s it’ or ‘I listen to rap, that’s it!’ It’s such a diverse musical culture that we have now, so I love that I’m making music in the time where two genres can mix together and make one genre or half the song could be rock, and half the song could be R&B. You know, it’s a great place to be musically, it’s a great place to be making music.”
I mention how we need to hang out because he literally lists out all of my favorite artists, and he then laughs and say “Ya! Let’s do it”.
Such positivity reflected from that answer, and I was truly appreciative of someone seeing that side of things. I asked if he could describe himself with one word, what would that word be. Aiono hesitated and thought for a moment, and then responded, “I would say… I would use the word ‘weird'”. We then got into a discussion of how important being weird is.”Ya! Weird is like the coolest thing ever! Like imagine somebody who wasn’t weird, and they were just normal. That’s vanilla, that’s super vanilla. Nobody like’s vanilla, everybody likes strawberry and chocolate.” Aiono says this emphatically, really believing in the power of being yourself and having fun, not sticking to the status quo or social norms.
To continue our light-hearted discussion, I had to then follow up the ice cream analogy with what his favorite ice cream flavor is. “Oh, I’m a weirdo, my favorite flavor is pistachio. I would choose Pistachio over anything.”
I laugh and tell him that I think he should hang out with my parents instead of me now, to which he immediately says, “Is that an old people thing? Maybe the one word that describes me is “old”.
Aiono then reveals some exciting news for all of his fans of what to look forward to! “You know what? I’m all about new music these days, we just released “Does It Feel Like Falling”, and I wanted that to happen before going on tour. I’ve been shooting a lot of fun videos moving forward in the next couple of months before the new year and right now I’m all about the original music because it’s just telling more stories about who I am as a person and what I go through… So I’m excited for that.”
Recently, the artist had the chance to be in the studio with Baby Face and that was extremely exciting and memorable for him because at one point he had 5 of the top 10 hits on the Billboard charts. “He knows how to write a song, and even some of his own original songs are my favorite. That was obviously such a great moment to get to work with somebody who has done so much for the music industry and between that and when I wrote for John Legend a few years ago, those are the two biggest hits, most awe-inspiring cases.” Right, forgot to mention how Aiono had the jaw-dropping opportunity to write with Legend!
The biggest thing is just working. You got to just work hard, and you have to enjoyy the process, and then it doesn’t matter how old you are. I feel like I could be a thousand years old.” I began laughing because I was thinking about how we were really trying to find him that “one word” to describe him, and how we just changed that from “weird” to “old”. Aiono jests with me, now saying “I’m gonna go back and change it, it’s ‘young-but-old’, but it’s all hyphenated.”
What does Aiono do outside of music? “I’ve been going out dancing a lot, I think that’s the most fun thing.” Some of his favorite dance moves include the BillyBounce, The Reverse and more. He had a chance to play a college show last year with the dance duo Ayo and Teo, where he really liked some of their dance moves.
I continued to ask Aiono what he does routinely everyday. He said, “I think exercise is very key. Not only to physical health but also to mental health. It’s important to mental health to be active and get the blood running through your body.”
What would his advice be to aspiring artists such as himself? “I think my advice is have fun, enjoy the process.” He admits to getting too focused on certain things himself and being guilty of being too hard on himself at times, when really it’s just about really taking it all in and enjoying the moments. “The whole journey becomes the reward.”
I then asked him what he’s #OnTheVerge of, and he replied, “I am #OntheVerge of releasing new music.” Well we can’t complain about that! In fact, may have just made our week! Be on the lookout for more to come from Aiono soon!
Be sure to catch him when he goes on tour!
Alex Aiono Feel Like It Tour:
1/13/2018 Minneapolis, MN Cedar Cultural Center 1/14/2018 Chicago, IL Lincoln Hall 1/16/2018 Pontiac, MI Pike Room 1/18/2018 New York, NY Highline Ballroom 1/19/2018 Philadelphia, PA The Foundry at The Fillmore 1/20/2018 Washington, DC U Street Music Hall 1/21/2018 Boston, MA Paradise Rock Club 1/23/2018 Atlanta, GA Terminal West 1/25/2018 Houston, TX White Oak Music Hall - Downstairs 1/26/2018 Dallas, TX Trees 1/29/2018 Phoenix, AZ Crescent Ballroom * 1/31/2018 Santa Ana, CA Constellation Room 2/1/2018 Los Angeles, CA El Rey 2/2/2018 San Francisco, CA Great American Music Hall 2/3/2018 Sacramento, CA Ace of Spades * special guest TBD