Running a clothing brand is a lot of work. Being an active advocate for mental health is a lot of work. And keeping up to date with over 130,000 Twitter followers through live streams, tweets and direct messages is, you guessed it – lot of work.
So, doing all of these things, while also recording and promoting a solo debut EP seems too much work for anyone to take on, right? Well, here to prove us wrong is Aiden Hatfield.
Aiden is the owner of the In Music We Trust clothing brand, which donates half of its profits to the Mind charity, and also owner of one of the most wholesome Twitter accounts I follow. So, when I heard he was all lined up to drop his debut single early next year I was raring to speak to him beforehand.
Here is how it went:
So Aiden, you have your debut single ‘This Is Neverending’ out January 18th! How did you pick which single to release first?
Well, it felt like the strongest song on the EP, and it was actually the first one I got finished!
I got it finished while still writing the rest of the EP and shot the video about a year ago – it just hasn’t come out yet!
So it just all worked out pretty well then?
Yeah, it does still feel like the strongest song on there, but it just fit with scheduling and things like that and was the easiest way to do it.
It’s kind of a boring reason I suppose. I mean, I’ve done another two videos from the EP, but that one just happened to be finished first, so it made sense to put it out.
I feel like the video for the second one is kind of a step up from this one as well, so I could’ve switched it up and released that one, but I felt like I wanted to progress – if that makes sense? I didn’t want to go all out on the first video, I want it to be a step up when it comes to bringing the next one out.
Yeah, that definitely makes sense!
You played the song acoustic on your livestream the other day, and I can definitely hear themes of mental health in it, which makes sense with you being such a strong advocate. Will this be a running theme through the EP?
Not intentionally! Like, yeah I am a mental health advocate but I don’t set out to write songs about me dealing with mental health issues. But, as a person that suffers with depression, naturally it impacts my song writing.
Because my day-to-day life, and career as an advocate kind of revolves around dealing with depression it’s quite a prominent part of my life, and I tend to write songs about things that are prominent to me. I can’t imagine that’ll change, because I will always write songs about what’s happening in my life, and that is a part of my life.
Does it help to be able to write it all out like that too?
I think it does. A lot of artists – me being one of them – who deal with mental health issues, work out their issues through art, whether you’re a painter, drawer or a musician.
I do sometimes wonder if I wasn’t a song writer would I have sought professional help for my issues, rather than writing about it? It could’ve been that I had gone down a different route if I hadn’t had this outlet.
I mean, there isn’t much I can do about it now this is the path I’m on, I just sometimes wonder if it would be different if I didn’t write songs!
That is an interesting way to look at it! What do you think drew you to music instead?
I first started playing music when my dad’s friend brought a guitar he had just bought over- just to show it off! I was amazed when he opened the case because I’d never seen a decent real life electric guitar.
A couple of weeks later, I got some money for my 13th birthday and the shop I had a paper round in had an advert for a guy selling a guitar and an amp for just £40! I got my mum to take me to get it and I fell in love with playing music from there.
Even before that though, I was brought up listening to music, my dad got me into Guns N’ Roses and my mum got me into David Bowie. So I have grown up with music being a heavy part of my life even before I knew what being in a band was.
Yeah, you’ve mentioned being in a band before, what made you decided to release a solo EP?
Relying on other people is a massive pain really – that’s basically it!
The last band I was in I played bass and I was heavily involved with writing the music as I’m a multi-instrumentalist – but I wasn’t really involved with writing the lyrics. I was still writing lyrics and songs alone though, but not doing anything with them.
So when it was proving too difficult to get four guys in a room together to record an album, I decided it was better to step away from the band before we ended up falling out. It kind of make sense for me to do it on my own then, I had learned enough as a songwriter, I had an understanding of all the instruments – plus I felt like I had become a strong enough vocalist.
I will have a band with me for my live shows though, but they’ll be learning the songs I have written!
How do you feel with your solo shows booked, are you excited?
I honestly can’t wait, it’s going to be amazing!
Playing live is one of the things I feel most strongly about, I never feel down when I’m on stage. Being a musician can be quite stressful, you’ve got music to write, you have to work on artwork, record songs, design merch – there’s a lot to it! It can be a downer when it isn’t going well, but when it IS going well it’s the best thing in the world. So being on stage is a constant high, and seeing other people enjoy your live music is absolutely amazing.
It does sound like an insane amount of work, plus you have a clothing label, you’re making music and you are constantly active on social media, how do you balance all this?
It’s definitely a lot of work, but when you do what you enjoy it’s really easy.
I guess it’s a case of trial and error. The thing I do most is talk to people online. The first few hours of my day are spent replying to messages and tweets I get. Then the rest of my day can be spent designing merch for the brand or writing.
Because the clothing brand is a functioning company, it takes a lot of priority. I’ve got to stay on top of things or it fails, but so does music! I’ve always said that if I didn’t make music the clothing brand would be doing better, but my focus has always been music. I never wanted to stray too far from it. My aim is to be able to combine the two, so if I go off on tour I can stay online and chat to people about my other work.
How do you think having this relationship with your followers has influenced your music?
It’s funny you should say that because there are lines in the songs that I have written that sort of touch on that.
I mean they don’t literally say that I’m fed up with getting hate online, but there are definitely songs that are influenced by people who have a problem with what I do or the fact that there are people relying on my support.
Sometimes I feel like I aren’t the right person to have people looking up to me. I don’t mean that to sound full of myself, I’ve just had people say that to me before and I do wonder if I’m the right person for it, because at the end of the day I do have mental health issues myself, so maybe there is someone more stable who is better suited for this kind of thing?
So, yeah there are lines that are influenced by that.
So we can expect to hear quite a lot of personal stuff in the EP?
Yeah definitely, although my song writing is very metaphorical so there are no literal references to me spending loads of time online or anything like that. But, metaphorically it is all in there!
Where else do you draw influences from, other than your own life?
It really varies. It’s going to sound cliché but I get influence from everywhere!
For me it’s usually words that speak to me. So if someone says something in a film, or an artistic piece has a narrative to it that I find poetic, I like to take it and make it my own.
An example is, I grew up listening to Eminem. My music is rock and alternative, so not at all rap, but because I like how Eminem structures the lines in his songs and how the words in his lines rhyme, I’ve taken influence from that.
But on the other hand, I have 4 tracks on my EP with guitar solos which I’ve taken from Guns N’ Roses – I sound nothing like them but the solos are influenced by them! I also like punk, so I’ve included power chords and big drums.
It’s basically a mixing pot of the music I like, and the stuff I’ve learned from being in bands
How do you like the music scene in Leeds?
There are some amazing bands up here, all willing to support each other. The band that’re going to be supporting me on stage, I believe all three of them went to Leeds College of Music. I didn’t though, I wasn’t good enough to get in!
I’m looking forward to hearing music from other cities when I’m touring though. I’m going to get to hear loads of bands that don’t really make it out of their own city and I wouldn’t necessarily get to hear otherwise, so I’m looking forward to hearing and hopefully taking influence from them.
So we can look forward to hearing that! Finally, you passed your driving test this year, found a PR company and recorded your single, how do you hope to top this incredible year in 2019?
I mean, 2019 is already shaping up to be amazing. I’m touring for the first time in years and my music actually comes out. 2018 has been an amazing year but it’s also been a lot of hard work, that hopefully is going to pay off next year!
Who knows where 2019 will take me, my EP could take me on to bigger and better things. I guess we will see how it pans out…
I truly do hope 2019 is Aiden’s year, and you can watch this space for updates on how it goes…
Photo Credit: Aiden Hatfield Video Snippet