Meet Ahero: (aka Samuel Bik) Artist, Skater and owner of Faceway records: ‘Vaporwave for past, present, and future’. Source: About Ahero, Spotify.
My Kind of Music, with Ahero.
Today’s Spotlight, is another PREVIEW, about an album that will be released 3/12/2021, by Business Casual. Taking you back again to the US, where Ahero resides. I’ll be going through the songs, giving you my personal interpretation and you know: Don’t expect any expertise, sorry-not-sorry 😂. With me, It’s Just Feels. As a Special Treat for you, Ahero gave me the private link to one of the songs! If you want some of your curiosity satisfied, you’ll have to click below pics to find which holds this little treasure! All other links will be added as soon as the album is released. Introducing to you today: ‘Mind Murals’, by Ahero. Let’s Go!
It all started when Ahero tweeted a request on 1/11/2021, I quote: ‘Bit of a reach, but any music blogs looking to give their take on the new Ahero LP before it’s released? Asking for a friend‘. (Riiiight) Well, I couldn’t really let that pass now, could I? So I replied: ‘How much time do I have and do you actually want an article? Not sure if what I do is what you’re looking for‘. I was still a bit surprised when he asked me to DM him some of my work.
And so I did. I sent him a couple of Spotlight links, among which, the Spotlight on Vaporspace StL. His response was fast and one that had me Laughing Out Loud, I quote: ‘Oh dude this is your stuff??? I’ve read that Vaporspace spotlight!!‘ Yeah… I don’t think a compliment can get more real than that. He told me he would sent me some ‘secret stuff, but nothing wacky of course‘, (Pheew) and everything got settled pretty quickly after that, so here we are.
I started listening to the album immediately, since Vaporwave is still pretty much uncharted territory for me, which I started to discover since the Vaporspace Spotlight. The first track hit me straight away though and once my attention is caught, it all becomes easier. Everything about ‘World’, seems to scream: ‘I’m Here and I Want Your Attention‘. It’s everything you would want for an opening song and it made me curious for the rest. ‘World’ is a statement, breathing life into the album. If you’re having trouble getting up in the morning, I suggest you turn this on and let the sound awaken your senses. Hello World!
‘World’ flows into the second song with ease. I love it that music is trying to tell you something, which is different for every listener and defines the art behind it in my opinion. ‘Velvetto’ makes me want to step out into the great outdoors. Go back in time and drive all the way up, to watch those mountain rims we visited when living in Spain. Misty and a bit Mysterious, the view is breathtaking and hardly to describe in words, but ‘Velvetto’ seems to be taking care of that.
I always wonder how other people experience music, but since I’m an ‘image thinker’, to me music opens up like a movie. Now I’m the kind that loves the funny, romantic, fantasy, thrilling, action stuff: it should be able to keep me focused, till the clue unfolds. ‘Velvetto’s’ clue is a wink from Ahero, to himself, patting himself on the back for a job well done and let’s be honest: it feels good when we accomplish something to our own satisfaction.
The third song, ‘Circle Park’, was released 2/7/2021, the day his previous album ‘Spirit’ had it’s first anniversary. It’s funny when I look at the labels Ahero used for the album in SoundCloud, my feelings towards it are confirmed. I’m always having a hard time to put a label on anything, though I get that it should make life easier for most of us. In music it feels more like the opposite sometimes, since a lot of genres seem to flow in one another. ‘Circle Park’ starts with the sound of rushing water and makes me feel like I’m standing beneath a waterfall.
Though as soon as ‘the alarm’ goes off, you know you’re off for a run. ‘Circle Park’ is released on all streaming services too, so you’ve probably experienced the song for yourself already. I will leave all professional opinions to others, but if you ask me, it’s one to get you ready for work. More specifically in my case: one to make me want to walk to work – which I loved doing – and get your mind set to the beat of the music. Energy Baby.
‘Rockstar’, is the 4th song. A days work, which for me currently is mostly listening to music, writing and playing some more music: Listening to Rockstars from all over the world and there’s no reason why Ahero shouldn’t be on that list. I love how sounds of the jungle weave throughout the album, which seem to combine that outdoor feel, with daily life routine. When I started my blog, I soon found out, music was my fuel to write something satisfying. I started first and foremost, to fill the longing that had been in my heart for so many years.
Although it was a personal blog from the start, music turned it into something More. Talking about labels, I wasn’t the one who started to call it a musicblog, but I guess it is where I am now. The multiple definitions of Rockstar are implying this song is More too. It feels like a bridge between the first 3 songs and the ones following. Taking you on a ride, enjoying the anticipation of appearing on the red carpet soon and getting ready for The Interview.
When Ahero sent me the – private – link to his ‘Mind Murals’, he also mentioned, I quote: ‘Alright so here it is! my latest album. it’s releasing March 12th on Business Casual, and it’s probably the longest I’ve ever spent on a release. I tried my best to incorporate themes from my past works, and its become one of my most meaningful works to me. a lot of it was worked on during summer of 2020, and I had a lot of good memories from then that got tossed into this album. hope u enjoy!‘
Listening to the next song, I think the title must be referring to the fact Ahero knows he created something new and special. Though it may feel familiar to his previous work, there’s a definite fresh ring to it. The atmosphere is colored by the sounds of this song and if you’re into water coloring – like I am, this one paints the environment in your mind’s eye in one go. Am I starting to sound like a loon already?
Song no.6 is picking up speed. Since I’ve seen several little video’s posted by Ahero on his skateboard, I can totally see him go for it on this one. I do wonder if his skating is in anyway related to the way he creates his music and it’s one thing I will be asking for sure. Having a kid myself who’s into skating, I sort of got how this is a world in itself and how much music seems to be a part of that – not saying I understand it all 😳. But the fun, the speed and maybe that touch of danger…
‘199x’ could very well refer to the times it takes to perfect one trick and the many ways of failing before succeeding. It might also refer to the time it took Ahero to release this album, since I can very well imagine the road to satisfaction with ones work is one that’s neither easy, nor fast. I know writing an article is hardly the same, but if you could only see the times I rewrite a part…yeah…
With song no. 7 we’re about to wind down again, getting closer to the end of the ‘Mind Murals’ story. We’re packing up for our way back to reality and we’re not in a hurry. I feel like Ahero painted a pretty mural with this album. It leaves so much room for imagination and we all know when imagination works at its finest: when we take time to clear our mind from everything that needs our daily attention.
I cannot claim to know, which intentions Ahero had while creating it all, but I can say this album is a perfect companion when you’re looking for a change of mind and scenery. In a way, it does seem like Ahero actually saw us, while producing.
Still, the last song feels like an open ending and I’m believing Ahero’s words, I quote: ‘Now I know I just announced a new album and all, and that’s REALLY COOL – but that’s not all… I have lots of singles and remixes coming out all this year! YEAR OF AHERO 2021‘. (Source: Twitter) ‘Next Steps’ gives the impression – and the title surely adds to it – of being a diving board into the near future.
I’m just guessing Ahero’s creative process has only just thoroughly restarted while working on this album and there’s obviously way more to come. I shared my first, overall, impression with Ahero, after listening to the album a couple of times: ‘The energy is practically radiating from the whole album!‘ And I stand with that comment. Though he managed to turn all that energy into the kind that relaxes you at the same time: Out of all the labels I referred to earlier, I would definitely go for Vaporwave, Ambient Jungle, Dreampop and Chillwave. I’m for sure keeping an eye out for his Next Steps.
It’s time to let Ahero talk and hear what he has to say about, not only Mind Murals, but also, himself. Before we go there I want to say: BIG Thank You Ahero! It’s been an honor to listen to your new, yet unreleased album and it gave me just a little more insight into the many sides of Vaporwave. I wish you all the blessings and lots of skater fun as well as success with the release of Mind Murals, next month. I will add you to my Spotlight page, where you will stay indefinitely and I will do my best to update any new release in the future.
Let’s start with the obvious: can you please introduce yourself and tell us: Who is Ahero?How and when did you start making music and how would you describe your music?
‘Ahero started off as a project, but over time it’s slowly become more of myself than an artistic facade. It’s been a great change, though. It’s helped me become more personal with my music and it’s definitely made me feel more confident about what I make.
I’ve been making Ahero music since 2018. I think it’s always had this slight pop undertone without there needing to be any lyrics, but I’d describe my music more like “hypnagogic-dream-pop-vaporwave,” or the silly genre name I coined on Twitter of “vaporwave 0.”
You seem to love your skateboard, does this relate in any way to how you create your music? Is this where (some) of your inspiration comes from? If not, where do you find inspiration? Who are your biggest influences?
‘While I love skateboarding, I haven’t found a way to connect the two entirely… skateboarding has opened me up to meeting new people and new music tastes, so in a way it did influence this new album I’ve been working on in a way. It opened me up to a lot more genres and helped shape this album in a unique way that feels special to me.
I’ve been taking a lot of what I love in ambient jungle from artists like Nookie and LTJ Bukem, and mixing it with classic hip-hop samples and tropes. That’s not all of the album though; ambient jungle. There’s still a lot of poppy music, which was mostly uninspired. I still keep this ongoing theme with the constant FX use and the heavy hip-hop and ambient jungle undertones, but it’s less prominent when the track isn’t relying on a sampled break.
All-in-all the album is mostly inspired by good times and the ambient jungle and rave scene of the 1990s, to put it in a simpler perspective’.
You mentioned that this album took a lot longer than previous ones and also became one of the more meaningful albums. Can you tell us about why this one is different, maybe give us a bit of a background story about how the album came together?
‘Oh yes absolutely! The album really has attached itself to the summer of 2020, where I had both the best and the worst times of my life. Now I’m not calling this a quarantine album of any sort, I feel like that’s been beaten to death already. However, that summer really helped me realize who I was and what I was going to do.
I spent lots of nights past midnight at the skatepark with friends, and most other days traveling the state looking for things to do. Seeing friends move away and others get incredible opportunities helped me see that what I was doing was kinda just… meh. It helped me develop the sound of this album to feel more emotional when it needs to and triumphant when it deserves to, without overpowering the listener.
I didn’t want to create a sappy, sad, coming of age album. I wanted to create a rad, badass, coming of age album, and I’m pretty satisfied with the result. The album revolves around sunsets and sunrises, new beginnings and new opportunities.
The sunset album cover is a piece I created the day after coming back from a beach day with some friends. Seeing a near exact recreation of the sunset from that day just fills me with overwhelming nostalgia and sadness for a time that I’ll never be able to recapture, and I think that’s the most meaningful part of it’.
The album will be released by Business Casual. Were all you former albums released the same way, and why not rather release it yourself?
‘I don’t know… I tend to have a super inconsistent releasing method… but I think that’s alright. It’s cool to try new things. I’ve released all my former albums on a few different labels — Mind Sailor, Emon, Faceway. — Faceway being my own label, I usually release everything there.
For this one though, I really wanted to try and reach a larger audience. Obviously everyone wants their art to be seen, but with the context I’ve previously provided, maybe the album can mean more to the listener/reader after seeing this. I can only hope so’.
Can you tell us a bit about how your creative process works: which part of creating / producing do you find the hardest and which you like the most? Would you say Vaporwave is definitely your genre, or would you try something different in the future?
‘The creative process for me is all over the place. I usually just throw one key piece onto a blank canvas and try to create something interesting around that, but that doesn’t always end up working out. Vaporwave for me is easy to create because I feel like what I make is what I listen to, so it works out!
But I’ve tried different things in the past. I’ve made really raw and authentic synthpop and tried producing beats for friends before. I’ve co-produced some songs in different genres but never had huge inputs on them.
I think in the future, I’d like to do a lot more stuff. Eventually I’d love to say I’ve done a little bit of everything, just for the experience. I think that’s a great thing for everyone though. Like I said, trying new things is cool. Not only that, but sometimes it can be educational’.
If you had to name one of your songs that had you particularly struggling / had a specific personal impact on you, which one would that be and why? Also: is there a song that seemed to make a distinct impact on your fans, that you know of?
‘I don’t know, a lot of the music for this album was so painstakingly crafted I wish I could just say all of it. However, the last track, “Next Steps,” is one I’d write home about. I made it a very long time ago, right around December of 2019. It sat and it sat and it sat until about two or three months ago when I revisited it.
There was something so… victorious and emotional about it that it seemed like with a little bit of tweaking it would complete the album. I went into it and started reworking it but even when I felt it was done, it needed something else. So when I had exhausted all my instrumental ideas, I got to writing lyrics, and truly only one of the verses stuck out to me. “I won’t tell you to wait my friend, I won’t stay until you say when, I’ll just say again and again, maybe it’s time to take your next steps.”
I remember recording the vocals and listening back to the album after it was all said and done and listening to the repeating vocals on Next Steps and tearing up. I had already felt really emotional about other tracks I’ve made, but never this strong. It’s just really close to how I feel about all things generally, especially now, during the beginning of 2021.
It’s really hard to come to terms with what’s happening — and I don’t mean anything in the political world or the real world, I guess. It mostly just has to do with me, moving on, growing up. Radical coming of age type stuff. I hope listeners can feel the same way, or at least understand that feeling’.
What are your hopes, dreams and plans for this year? Anything new you’re planning to work on? Any dream collabs you hope to see come true maybe?
‘I’ve given up on most collaborations in the past, but I’ve definitely got more planned for 2021. You’ll end up seeing some key remixes and other pieces of music from me getting released at some point… maybe some dream collaborations coming true?
I don’t know, maybe I’ve already said too much… but yes, more music is coming out this year. As Ahero. My output as of recent has been too great to leave all these projects on the backburner’.
Is there anything else I did not ask you about, you wish to add / share, with your fans / the readers?
‘I feel like I have already talked too much… but I’ll keep going, just for an ending statement. To everyone reading this, remember to be true to yourself. Be that person you want to be. Don’t let your fears stop you from becoming the best you to ever be.
The past year has been a time of reflection for not just me, but many others. Time marches on and at the end of the day we can all relax for a few moments and enjoy our existence. Please take care of yourselves, and never let yourself down. Keep your head up, things do get better. Peace out’.
And with these wise last words – basically my blogs mantra lol – I leave you all. Again, Big thanks to Ahero! And you readers, hopefully this little preview has got you curious enough – did you find the hidden song?
Follow Ahero on Bandcamp – YouTube – Spotify – Twitter – Instagram – Faceway
Wishing y’all a very successful week, show the World Who You Really Are ❤