American singer/songwriter/producer/engineer Aaron Rizzo unveiled his new single “Where Your Lips Have Been” on May 11th.
Inspired by the likes of Tom Petty and Stevie Ray Vaughn, Rizzo released his first project “Blck Tee Shrt” in 2017. The Ithaca-based artist is now back with a soulful-blues-pop record produced by Elliott Lowe and Rizzo.
“Where Your Lips Have Been” was a huge step in a new direction for me. The song is about the feeling of seeing someone that you used to love through drunk goggles leaving the room with someone else. The feeling of not wanting to be with them, but still not wanting to see them with another,” says Rizzo.
“Where Your Lips Have Been” is now available worldwide.
Introduce yourself. What’s your story?
My name is Aaron Rizzo, I was born and raised in the snowy Rochester, NY. I’m a touring musician, recording artist, producer and engineer. I’m currently living in Ithaca, NY finishing up my undergrad in recording.
What got you into music?
What got me into music was my parents. They showed me so much incredible music when I was young that it made me want to pass that torch on. The way music saved my life on multiple occasions is something that I don’t take lightly or for granted, so I feel it’s my responsibility to help people through their lives with harmony and melody.
How did music change your life?
Music changed my life from the moment I heard “Damn the Torpedoes” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. My parents showed me this record when I was 3 or 4, and I fell deeply in love with the sound of this record. This record somehow created a headspace for me that drew every ounce of my being into music. It acted as a stepping stone for me to get into the world of music as a whole. From there, music has helped me to survive severe depression. Every time things got dark, it kept my head above the water. When you go through something like that with music by your side, it’s not something that you ever let go.
At what point did you realize music was more than just a hobby?
It never really made sense to me that music could be considered a hobby. I think I had this mindset because all of my role models were big time musicians like Tom Petty or Stevie Ray Vaughn. Admittedly, this mindset was a bit ignorant considering the fact that not everyone is in it for the long run. However I realized this at a really young age. Discovering music for me was such a vertical moment in the sense that as soon as I picked up a guitar I knew it was what I wanted to do. Everyone has a role in this life. Some people become firefighters, doctors, lawyers or airline pilots. For me it just made sense. All I wanted to do with my free time was play the guitar.
What’s the first song you’ve ever written? How old were you? What was it about?
I wrote my first song when I was in fourth grade. I can’t remember what the title was, but it was some sort of a pre-pubescent love song. Something about meeting someone in my backyard, I really can’t remember. However, the first real song I wrote for myself was called “Perfect Symmetry”. It’s kind of ironic because it was the first one I wrote, but it’s a concept that still resonates with me today. I remember writing it in my high school library. This song still holds true, and is in fact the concept of the next album I am working on. It’s going to be a really amazing moment recording that song and experiencing that full-circle moment.
“Where Your Lips Have Been” is your new single. What’s the story behind this record? Could you tell us about the songwriting/production process?
“Where Your Lips Have Been” was a huge step in a new direction for me. The song is about the feeling of seeing someone that you used to love through drunk goggles leaving the room with someone else. The feeling of not wanting to be with them, but still not wanting to see them with another. A bad breakup of mine inspired this song. It was also the first song that I collaborated with a producer on. Elliot Lowe and I got together in the studio after I had written the song to see what kind of product we could make. It was an interesting collaboration because he makes mainly electronic music and beats. We set out on this song to do something that was way different for both of us, and I think we achieved that with this single. I had such an amazing time trying new things with this song, and I think it really helped Elliot as well as myself to grow as musicians and human beings.
How did your sound evolve since your first project “Blck Tee shrt”?
My sound has evolved since Blck Tee Shrt quite a bit. From an inside perspective, I think I have pushed myself outside of my own boundaries since the record. The first album was somewhat of a “getting my feet wet”. I was just exploring my abilities and seeing how far I could push myself in multiple directions. My new music is going to be much different from the first record in a very new and fresh way. I’m exploring more with synthesizers, beat production, guest artists and just doing some overall weird things. The first album was a bit stressful to make sometimes because I did it myself, and I wanted to change that with my new sound. I want to collaborate and have the time of my life making music.
As a songwriter, what message do you want to deliver through your music?
As a songwriter, all I want to deliver with my music is a sense of community. I want people to feel what I feel when I listen to the music that I love. If I can pass that feeling on to my audience, I already consider that success. I’m so grateful to have a fanbase that is so supportive and shows so much love. I owe everything that I have to the people that I am giving my music to.
What do you like the most about songwriting?
The thing I like most about songwriting is the birds eye view aspect of it. You can create this world looking from the outside and talk about feelings that no-one even knew they had. My biggest thrill as a songwriter is when I surprise myself in that aspect. When I put pen to paper and a letter of admittance comes out on the paper talking about feelings I had that I didn’t know existed, that’s when I get the biggest thrill.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
In the sense of inspiration, I am just like every other person on this planet that makes art. We draw inspiration from the world around us. As artists, we have a distinct privilege to watch what happens in the places we go and report on it through melody and harmony. Things like love, war, death, lust and politics all make their way into my music, because it is what I experience in the world around me. I also draw a lot of inspiration from the musicians that I have the honor to play with. In the few years I’ve been doing a solo career, I have had such a privilege to work and collaborate with so many different amazing musicians. One of my best friends Evan Sundquist taught me that music is more about listening than playing, and that resonated with me heavily. He plays keys with us from time to time when he can, and it is always a privilege.
Any advice you’ d like to give to new songwriters?
My biggest piece of advice that I would give to new songwriters is stop thinking anything is weird. NOTHING is weird. Every person you meet in your career will be different, and that’s the most beautiful part about it. We’re always working with incredible personalities. Always be a sponge. Absorb as much as you can, collaborate as much as you can, play as MUCH as you can.
How would you describe your sound?
I don’t think I really have a sound. The only consistencies are guitar, drums and vocals. These three things don’t necessarily describe a certain sound. However, when I set out as a songwriter, it was my personal goal to never be pigeonholed into a “genre” or “category”. For me, the best music transcends any kind of playlist or disc. It becomes part of your being no matter what kind of music it is. THAT is what I want my sound to be. Always changing, always ascending.
What did you grow up listening to? And what are you listening to now?
I grew up listening to everything under the sun, and I am so grateful for that. Everything from The Cure to Tribe Called Quest somehow made it’s way into my ears. However, some of my favorite stuff growing up was the music my parents showed me. Tom Petty, Tears for Fears, The Cure and a lot of other 80s new wave bands are all things that inspired me. Strangely, I also developed a deep love for blues music at a really young age. This was the one of the few kinds of music that my parents never really pushed through the speakers. Somehow I still found a way to love and listen to artists like BB King, Muddy Waters, Clapton and Hendrix. Currently, I’ve been listening to a lot of contemporary R&B, as well as bands that sort of sound like they we’re formed in the 80s. I’m in love with this record called “August Greene, which is a collaboration project of Karriem Riggins, Robert Glasper and Common. Also this new band called "The Night Game” is on my top 5 list right now. I think there is a lot of incredible music coming out right now despite what many people think. You’ve just got to turn off your TOP 40 station and do a little digging.
What’s your purpose?
My purpose in life is to pass the torch that was given to me. I’m not the package, I’m just the delivery man. My purpose is to make art and pass it on to those in need. Wether someone is having a bad day or a bad year, all I want to do is give them a song to help them through that. I want to share that feeling with as many people as possible. Music is a gift, and it is my life’s mission to show people that.
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