iPhone Recording (the Infancy of My Most Popular Song)

Inspiration seems to hit at the worst times.

You’re sitting there minding your own business, but then you have a thought and a feeling, and a moment to react before continuing to, let’s say, brush your teeth.

For the past several years I’ve made a habit of at least trying to grab inspiration by its sleeve with my iPhone. Here’s an example (thankfully I was near a guitar).

 

What you’re hearing is the exact moment right after I had the idea for what would eventually become “Making All Things New,” my most popular song.

As of right now, it has been streamed on Spotify over 30 million times. I don’t say that to brag; I say that because, based on the iPhone recording, you wouldn’t have predicted that.

What would have happened if I hadn’t recorded that snippet of gibberish?

Nothing. Certainly not 30 million listens.

I’m hoping that knowing this encourages you to tag inspiration in your own way the next time you brush up against it. Whether for a song, novel, dessert recipe, business — whatever it is, write it down, record it on your phone. Just somehow get it out of your head onto something tangible, so you can take a look at it and figure out the next step.

Love,
Aaron

 

That Time I Used PowerPoint to Design My First Album Cover

I bet you didn’t know that I created my first album artwork in Microsoft PowerPoint, did you?

I bring this up to say I didn’t know what I was doing. I also didn’t have any money in my Wells Fargo checking account to hire a graphic designer.

I did, though, have one of those old white Macbooks installed with Microsoft Office.

So I just started trying different colors, filters, fonts (Helvetica Neue Ultralight) until I ended up with what would be, if you now think about it, the start of my visual identity as an artist.

 

On the one hand it seems silly, maybe even irresponsible. After all, I’d just spent a LOT of money recording the music, so why would I suddenly get cheap on the packaging?

But on the other hand, I was just too excited and close to the finish line to know any better. And if I’ve learned anything in life as a working artist, it’s that done is often better than perfect, as they say.

Even though you might look at the “My Whole Life” cover art differently now, my hope is that it reminds you that you don’t have to know everything to get started on whatever it is you’ve been holding out on, just because you don’t think you have enough money, skill, knowledge, etc.

Look around you (and inside yourself). Whatever you have will work just fine. And remember that the only reason you know my music or are even reading this is because at one point I decided to do the same.

Love,
Aaron

P.S. This was almost the album cover…yikes.

I Hate to Namedrop, but Taylor Swift…

…said she loves my music, so how do you expect me to keep that to myself?

Because seriously, talk about a strange day.

I wake up, check a few emails and one is from the head of my label, forwarding me this playlist Taylor Swift put together on Spotify called “Songs Taylor Loves.”

I don’t really understand. But then I keep scrolling and there I am “Aaron Espe – Making All Things New.”

At first I think, no this can’t be right. But then I think, well who knows? At the very least I will tweet her a thank-you.

A little while later all of her fans start posting and liking and retweeting my thank-you tweet.

Wow, I should tweet about Taylor Swift more often, that’s the trick to tweeting. I’ve cracked the code!

I didn’t crack the code. The trick I found out was that Taylor Swift had “liked” my tweet which meant that the tweet became viral because that’s how much power Tay’ (if I can be so bold now) exudes in one tap.

Now, I bet you’re wondering how my life has changed since that day, aren’t you?

You probably think I’m currently lying sideways on a velvet covered pillow made of European goose down, typing with one hand and sipping a cocktail in the other while people stand outside in a line waiting for my autograph.

Perhaps you think I’ve now won the attention of every music executive in Nashville and they’ve made multiple competing offers on the worst song I’ve ever written (about a dog running over my shoulder and my refrigerator—I was 6, ok?).

I bet you maybe even think that my kids don’t cry or whine any more and they brush my teeth and tuck me into bed.

Well, no.

What is true is that I impressed a few people for a few days. Even got a couple “OMG!!s” from people I haven’t heard from in years.

And honestly, as a creative person, that stuff feels so good. Taylor Swift putting me on her playlist really means a lot and I truly am thankful. I feel like I’ve been validated by one of the most successful people in my field.

But do you want to know what’s interesting to me about this whole thing?

It wasn’t enough.

The feeling went away.

And I was reminded that the only thing that doesn’t go away is the work.

I don’t know what I’d do if that wasn’t my favorite part about music. Writing, creating, collaborating, figuring out how to get something so abstract that pulls on your heart onto a piece of paper, four chords and melody.

And I’m making a sort of pact right now…

…if I ever don’t love the work anymore, that’s when I’m done. That’s when I fill out a Home Depot application.

The day it isn’t about a song anymore will be a sad day for me, but I take comfort knowing almost absolutely that day will never come.

So God bless you, Taylor Swift, but it’s time for me to get back to work.