An Interview With The Promising LA-Based Musician ANDREW ABARIA About His Upcoming Album “Iceland” and More!
Next month, he will be released a new instrumental ambient music album called “Iceland.”
“I created ‘Iceland’ to help people get into “flow”. What is flow? It’s that magical feeling where you’re totally immersed in the intensity and wonder of whatever it is you’re doing – midnight driving, studying for a test, contemplating life in vast nature, etc.
In other words, flow is about being present and I hope this album helps to facilitate that for everyone.” – Andrew Abaria
Another special feature about this release is that Abaria has also created an international tour around these songs. He will play live performances from the album at various yoga studios all over the world (New York, Hong Hong, Stockholm). He has received support from companies like Lululemon and Equinox to help make this happen.
Connect With ANDREW ABARIA here:
Learn more about Andrew Abaria in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time today! Where does this interview find you now? What’s on tap for the rest of your day?
Of course, happy to chat with you! Today I’m in my home state of Oregon visiting family, and I’m sitting in a uber hipster coffee shop getting some promo work done for both the upcoming album release and for the album tour too.
All Access Music is currently compiling a list of our artist’s favorite songs this summer so what has been your song of the summer? (It can be one of your songs!)
My guilty pleasure song this summer is “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” by BSB. I loved them growing up and I think it’s cool they’re still making music. As for one of my songs being a favorite summer song, I would have to vote for “Hymnody.” It’s the last song on the album and is a down tempo but epic piece that really gets you in the mood to be still and contemplate life – which is something I do quite often!
Overall, how do you think 2018 has been treating you and your career? What has been one goal that you have had this year and how close are you to reaching it? Or did you already reach it?
2018 has been great for my music career and overall career. My main business goal was to clarify my personal brand and to vertically integrate my music and yoga efforts into that personal brand. I was a music major at USC, and have been a freelance musician ever since I graduated. Parallel to that, I’ve built up my yoga business over the last decade and have been teaching international workshops and trainings over the last few years. My intention for 2018 was to focus my musical and yoga energies on creating products and experiences that combined the two, and this new album “Iceland” is a result of that.
Iceland was the location of my yoga and personal development retreat this year, and so I thought it would be cool to create an album of music that could take anyone into the same magical state that I was in when I was there. This fall I’m using the album to tour yoga studios all over the world, teaching flow classes while the album is being played in the background. Also, the plan is to do live keyboard performances of a few tracks at the beginning and end of each class.
So yes, the album is about to be released on September 5, 80% of the tour is booked, and so I’m well on my way to reach my 2018 goals!
Growing up, was music always a big part of your life? Can you recall your first ever musical experience? Can you see yourself ever doing anything else?
Yes, I come from a musical family. My older brother played violin, and my younger brother played cello, and we were members of orchestras since we were little kids. My first piano recitals were the musical experiences that I can remember, and I don’t remember much, except feeling completely terrified! Haha
And yes, unlike what I’m assuming other musicians would say, I can definitely see myself doing many things. I consider myself a multi-passionate entrepreneur (a term coined by one of my mentors, Marie Forleo) as I’m also interested in personal development, business, fitness, blogging etc. I think the most difficult part of my career is funneling the right mix of my passions into creative products and experiences that have undeniable value to fans and consumers.
What has been the biggest surprise so far about making music your career? What has been an unexpected or welcome challenge to it all?
The biggest surprise was the recent realization that people will only care about musical products and experiences if the music moves them emotionally! I know that sounds really simple, but if your music doesn’t take people into a different state of being and move them in some measurable way (physically or emotionally), then you haven’t done your job as an art creator of the people.
I think this is the biggest hurdle for many of us creatives. We, as composers, tend to fall in love with our creations and forget about devoting time to creating copy and promo that articulates how our art can actually change the lives of other people.
In other words, this revelation revolves around marketing, and I’ve learned to view marketing as something that isn’t skeezy or unscrupulous. It’s actually a form of service to others!
And I know I’m going to get a lot of flack from “it’s all about the art, man” hippy-dippy musicians but I’m used to it. I get the same push back from airy-fairy yoga people, but I see no problem being equal parts artist and business person.
How do you think you and your music have been influenced by your hometown and where you live today?
There’s a natural, down to earth feel that you get from Oregon, and I’d like to think that’s rubbed off on me and my music. Having lived in LA for so long, most of my songs have ear wormy pop hooks, even when I’m aiming to create a more ambient, atmospheric album like “Iceland”.
Let’s talk about your album coming out next month called “Iceland.” What was the inspiration for this collection? Did anything surprise you about the overall process of making it?
Like I said earlier, the inception of the project was my personal development retreat in Iceland, which took place in May of this year, and I wanted to create a set of songs that reflected my emotional experience. There were many surprises about the process of working with my co-writer and producer, John Secolo, but I guess the biggest surprise in making “Iceland” would be that it took less time to write than I expected! Co-writing seems to go faster for me when it’s sans lyrics and all about the music. I’m really liking pure melody and harmony writing these days; it ends up being less work, and I think it highlights my strength as a composer.
While it’s difficult, can you pick out a few of your favorite songs on this album and talk about how they were written and then got to be on this album?
If I had to pick a few to talk about, I would pick the first and last songs – Andromeda and Hymnody. Andromeda was written through writing one motif, and then layering multiple counter melodies over the original melody. It’s a fairly simple song composition-wise, as there’s just one A section, but the complexity comes in the layering choices and harmonies. Emotionally I wanted Andromeda to convey what I felt in the airplane, about to land at KEF, the local Reykjavik airport, and seeing the vast expanse of rocky terrain that is Iceland. When you’re about to land, feels like you’re entering into another world, and so I called the song Andromeda.
Hymnody’s melody came to me quickly on the piano, and I made this melodic line the main hook of the song. John, my producer took the composition to the next level, adding sparse but powerful production to bring out the beauty of the lines. While in Reykjavik, I visited an enormous white church in the middle of the city center that had a simple beauty to it, and that became the visual inspiration that led me to creating the sound composition for Hymnody. There’s a very solemn feel to the piece so I called it Hymnody, which is the process by which hymns are composed.
Can you elaborate on the “flow” that you hope listeners reach when they hear these songs?
Flow is that magical feeling where you’re totally immersed in the intensity and wonder of whatever it is you’re doing – midnight driving, studying for a test, walking through vast nature, practicing yoga. Flow is about being present and I hope that “Iceland” is a soundtrack that people can listen to as they continue their quest to be more present, to discover and ultimately accept themselves.
How excited are you to head out on your international tour? Where are some of the places that you will be going to? How did you come up with the idea to play at yoga studios? What was it like getting support from companies like Lululemon and Equinox?
I’m definitely looking forward to this tour, again especially because it vertically integrates two of my main passions into one operation. I came up with the idea of touring different yoga studios because I was already doing that through the health and fitness arm of my business, and it finally clicked one day late last year that if I was to be making music, that I could strategically aim musical products into a market I already had a foothold in.
I’ve built a good rapport with both Equinox and Lululemon over the years and I love both companies and what they stand for. I worked at Equinox for a long time while in LA, and I recently became a Lululemon ambassador, so I’m excited that they will be sponsoring a few shows on this fall tour.
We are currently living through a very trying and politically charged time right now so I am curious to know how your own music is reflecting this time period or is your music an escape from all that? Would you say that other musicians are making music that has been influenced by this climate?
Right. Yeah, I definitely think our nation (and world) today is more polarized than ever, and as an artist I hope to create music that connects to the core of what it means to be human. I think that when we can take the time to go deep within ourselves and connect to our own individual humanness, then it becomes clear that we are all the same at the core of our being, and that there’s no need to create divisiveness based on ostensible differences.
Musicians have the cool job of helping people to connect to the timeless essence within that has no social construct, so yeah I’d like to think that musicians in general, in this day in age, are operating from that same belief as they make their art.
What has it been like keeping up with your social media accounts and all of the different platforms? Is it hard to stay up to date on it all? What would you say is your favorite way to connect with your fans now?
Social media is a permanent bullet point on the to-do list for me, and while I’m not always in the mood to post, for the most part, I don’t mind it. I definitely love writing, so I view the duty as a way to practice my marketing and writing skills.
Who are some of your favorite artists or rather, what musicians have continued to inspire you and your music? Who would you absolutely still love to work with in the future?
I’m really getting into artists like The Album Leaf, Brian Eno, and Tycho . I love the soundscapes they’ve created in their work and artists like these were definitely influences as I composed “Iceland”. I also admire musicians like George Gershwin who were able to draw from multiple musical genres and blend each influence into a really unique signature compositional style and sound. I’d love to work with anyone of that caliber, of course!
If you were going to be stranded on a deserted island forever, what musical item would you take with you and why?
Would it be possible for me to transport a grand piano onto this hypothetical deserted island? Haha I write my best work on real acoustic pianos vs. keyboards.
If your music was going to be featured on any TV show that is currently on right now, which would you love it to be on? Or if you prefer, what is a movie that you love that you wish your music was featured in?
Hmm, hard for me to answer because I don’t really watch TV! I’d love for the music from “Iceland” to be featured on travel channels that explore different countries and cultures, or science based shows that explore the vastness of the universe. If I had to pick a movie to feature this set of music, it would be something like Brokeback Mountain that not only has a great story, but also spectacular visuals of vast nature.
At the end of the day, what do you hope your fans take away from your music?
At the end of the day, I hope “Iceland” (and the rest of my music catalog) becomes a soundtrack that people take with them on their voyage of self discovery. Embedded in every training, or album, or experience I create is a desire that people walk away more inspired to reach their full potential. That matters to me the most – beyond the music, yoga, or anything else.