This week's Insider is local musician, Aquila Young who gives us the inside scoop on what life is like for an up-and-coming artist on the Gold Coast.
What does Aquila Young mean and why did you choose that name?
Aquila is Latin and it means Eagle. I really connected with this idea and I felt like this Eagle was a creature that was fierce and vulnerable at the same time. It connects with the music I’ve been writing and the dynamics of it connect with my ideas. I felt like it really aligned with my head space. In addition the name also relates to some ancient roman mythology that reflected the concept of evoking winter. In my younger days I always wanted to make music that sounded like winter.
What do you mean ‘sounded like winter’?
For me, the sounds of some of the music I listened to growing up were slow, ambient soundscapes. Lots of booming drums, but almost ethereal. I listened to a lot of Bon Iver too and when I would listen to that melancholic music it gave me a vision of winter.
How long have you been singing?
Since I was 16.
Do you write your own songs?
Yes, all of them.
Do you write music for your fans or for yourself?
For myself. It’s a cathartic experience. I can only write from my own experience, there fore I can only pen what is real for me. However, sometimes I do think about the huge range of emotions that people express, and I try to capture some emotions that perhaps my songs have been missing.
Where does the inspiration for your songs come from?
Probably the lyrical and the messages of the songs are a reflection of my feelings. Reflections of the day-to-day.
Do you play any instruments?
I play guitar and tambourine for my project, but I also play bass and keys for a few other bands.
You refer to your music career as your project. Why?
It’s the main focus. Sometimes people get confused because I’m a solo artist that plays with a live band. People aren't sure whether to refer it to a band or to me as a solo artist. I also try to incorporate visual outlets that overlap the music. As a whole, it ends up being more of a project.
Yes, I’ve noticed your use of visuals on your website. They are less than a music video, and give only a glimpse into your world. Also, you only post in black and white. Can you elaborate on that; is there a common thread?
At first when I started posting black and white images I got a good reaction. As well as I wanted to do something that was different from the typical bright colours you see on social media. From there I got absorbed in black and white images and I love the contrast. I’ve adopted it as my uniform. It also represents the fierce and the vulnerable, the yin and the yang of my music.
Who do you feel is your biggest audience?
I suppose it’s a lot of Gold Coast locals who are familiar with my music. Amongst all ages, I think I connect most with young females. Perhaps it’s because we are in the same age bracket.
I think younger girls admire seeing another female pursuing a passion.
Where did your music style start and how has it grown?
I started playing in church. I played bass and occasionally sing. I learned the dynamics of a live performance from having that experience. I am still applying those concepts to my work today, whether it be live on stage, or in the studio.
From being in the church band, I also learned how to set a mood with music.
Where is it going?
Lately my music has been veering in a different direction, which has caught me by surprise!
I used to be quite firm with my music, but lately I’ve been exploring new styles, particularly soul and R&B. It’s been influencing my writing. I’m not sure where I’ll go with that just yet.
Which well-known artists are you influenced by and why?
Bon Iver, Radiohead, The National and Lykke Li. I like them all for different reasons but to sum them up, I grew up on it, and at the time I was listening to their records, I was really open to being influenced. They all created a strong journey for me as well as reflected the things I was feeling at the time. Their sounds have stuck with me, so I would consider them my roots.
How do you choose who you want to collaborate with?
There are lots of people I would like to collaborate with, but mostly people that are doing different things to what I’m doing. I’d love to break out of my own traditions.
Are you thinking of someone specific?
Probably a few people, but one would be my friend Vespyro; he’s a phenomenal producer of electronic music.
Who is your favourite artist on the Gold Coast?
I like TSUN. They play some really cool psych rock. I saw them at GLOW last year and their performance resonated with me.
How do you feel about the music scene on the Gold Coast?
I feel like there is a lot of talent, but not many venues that foster the people who are making the music here. Slowly things are picking up, Miami Marketta and NightQuarter are great venues, but it would be nice to have a few more avenues for people to play without it costing them an arm and a leg.
What would you do to change or improve it?
I’m not sure, but perhaps trying to create opportunities for people to come together in casual environments and share ideas; like-minded people sharing assets and being creative.
Like a jam session?
What are your short-term goals with your music?
At the moment I’m writing for my next release. I’d like to finish writing my EP. I’m planning on heading over to Nashville in October or November to do a bit of writing and recording. Until that point I'm in writing mode.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Hopefully touring abroad. I’d like to get my music outside of Australia and I would like to play some larger festivals.
What is your proudest moment as a musician?
In Byron playing the release tour for my EP, Distance Echoes. It was one of the most fun experiences I’ve had. It was so satisfying being able to showcase my EP in other states. It was a relief to have it done and be able to share it. The audience was so responsive and excited. It was just cool to connect with so many people.
That one night in Byron, it was just incredible.
Most disheartening moment as a musician?
Oh there are plenty! At the start when I was trying to make it all work, I had written so many songs by myself, and when I was looking for a band and I would reach out to other artists and sometimes get rejected. It was so disheartening feeling like I was on my own in what I was trying to achieve.
Early days, humble beginnings I suppose.
What part of the music industry makes you the most happy?
Its a platform that connects people and inspires people.
Are you strictly a creative, or do you handle the business behind your brand as well?
To be honest, pursuing music is 10% creative and 90% business. I do the 100%. There is lots of follow-up.
I’ve recently gotten management, which is helping, but it’s been an independent challenge up until this point.
It’s hard to get a read on you from your online presence. What is something you would like you fans to know about you?
I’ve portrayed myself on social media in a way that is a true reflection of me. I’m a bit of a recluse, and value privacy. I do it to keep my sanity, so basically what you see is actually what you would get.
Tell us a secret.
*She told me her real name, but did mention she likes to keep it private. If you wanna know, you’ll have to go to her next shows at GLOW or Festival of the Stone Tour 2016 and see if you can sweet talk Aquila into telling you!
AQUILA'S BEST OF...
Favourite Coffee Spot
I’m not a coffee drinker, so I don’t go to a lot of cafe’s but my friends and I love Bread and Butter. It’s got cool music, and a nice vibe. Oh and great pizza.
Favourite Dinner Restaurant
My family and I have always gone to The Aztec in Coolangatta. It reminds me of home. It’s our celebration spot!
Favourite Outdoorsy Spot
I do like Springbrook a lot. Whenever I go I seem to see the big picture. It helps me to relax.
Favourite place to listen to live music
It depends on what band is playing rather than the venue for me. If I had to choose I would say NightQuarter. I like the vibe there. There is so much food and so many good artists on display.
To hear more from Aquila Young, click HERE
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By Marleigh Kelly