Student Spotlight - Aaron Farmer
Written by: Sam Hughes
As would be published in the April 2020 issue of Lazy Faire Magazine.
Can you start by telling us a bit about yourself and your involvement with the band. Lauriers?
I’m a fifth year Finance student, and I’ll be graduating this year. I’m a bass guitarist for the Lauriers. We don’t really have a specific genre, we usually jump between different genres of music. We typically play alternative rock, we get punk elements sometimes or other elements but we don’t really stay in one lane.
The focus of this month’s issue is on activities that go on beyond the everyday business life of business students. What was the thinking behind starting this band, and could you go into some details about how you operate the band now?
I was actually a later addition to the band. I got involved in the band about a year ago. I knew some of the people in the band. Their bass player went to America for 6 months so they needed someone to fill in the role. Because they knew me from other bands, I had the opportunity to step into the role from there. When their original bassist came back, they asked me to step into the role full-time and we became a five-piece band.
Normally, we’re a part of an Edmonton music collective called YEG Music and they book shows for us on a fairly regular basis. We usually get a show once every couple of months, but we never share the stage with the same people. More often than not though, we’re the headliners for the show, so we get put up as the number one band. We draw the crowds [in] and we get to help less experienced artists also experience the stage as other acts when we’re performing. When we were starting out, we had those opportunities as well to go on stage with a bigger headline act, so we’re keeping with that now that we headline more often.
We’re currently heading in the direction where we’re starting to book our own shows, which typically means developing a rapport with more people in the industry, bars, clubs, people who can help us to book shows. It does cost more money to book your own shows, but we make it all back from ticket sales so it’s worth it.
Obviously, everyone likes to have some sort of outlet to keep their minds occupied away from school; why did you choose to engage in music and do you think it helps your development as a student of the ASOB?
In my spare time I used to play video games or other activities that weren’t as constructive, but music is an outlet for me, not just making it, but listening to it as a hobby of mine. Whenever I’m stressed out from school, I can just pick up a guitar and just clear my head. It’s not even about just improving my skills sometimes. It helps grease the cogs in my head and gets me ready for exams and midterms and helps deal with some of the stress of school.
How do you think recent technology like Spotify has impacted the music industry? Is it a force for good or does it crowd out the market?
Firstly, I’d like to say that Spotify and Apple Music can be a great outlet for new artists. Some artists are “discovered” on Spotify, but it’s really a catch-22 in that sense because Spotify isn’t paying their artists enough for the streams that they are getting. It can really help new artists, but there isn’t a lot that new artists can do apart from putting the music on streaming services. It does allow us to reach new audiences who we might not have been able to reach without it, but we’re not going to get the money we deserve from Spotify so we rely on physical music sales, t-shirts, pins, patches, tickets, and so on. Spotify is a great way to get your name out there but it’s not a way to get your bills paid.
What are your plans for the future? Will you aim to increase the popularity of your band? Or is it going to take a back-seat to other career aspirations?
Because the band members are graduating soon, we’re not going to be going full-time with the band immediately. The plan is to find a career first, and then focus on the band on the side. We started as just a few friends playing music and now we’re doing live shows. We love to play shows whenever we get the chance. We want to record new music as well, but it’s never been a career aspiration. We would love to keep doing what we’re doing and keep having fun doing it. If we try to turn it into a career, then we come under pressure to play bigger shows and increase streams and it stops being fun. We’re going to record more music. We don’t have any plans to go on tour right now, but we’ll keep playing local shows. Of course, we’re in the camp that we’ll keep our ears to the ground and if a bigger opportunity comes then it comes, and we’ll be ready for it when it does.
Do you have any advice for students who may be interested in starting an endeavour in music, be it solo or in a band?
Just try it. There are no rules to this game. I just started playing the instruments that I had in my apartment. I didn’t start playing until about three years ago and now I’m doing live shows. There’s nothing that’s holding you back other than yourself. There’s no way you can get better unless you put the time in to get better, and from there you can grow more confident of your abilities. Also, there are no rules on how you want to make music. There’s a lot of music that’s been made so you should make something new, something that’s your own. You can’t be lazy about it, you’ve got to put in your best effort, but you’ve got to just do it.