Finding his voice: Interview with Aron D

Ahead of Babylon Radio’s upcoming event night at The Cobblestone, I was fortunate enough to sit down for an interview with Aron D, a.k.a. Aron Debrecen, one of the gigs headliners. An all too humble musician from Hungary, Aron is keen to re-enter Dublin’s music scene in a big way after the shake-ups Covid has caused for his industry.

Aron, how would you describe your music? What are your influences?

Aron: In short, probably indie-folk with an earth sound…my main influences are Damien Rice, José González, Eliott Smith, Radio head, they all inspired me to get into this. My first major inspiration was Damien Rice and his O album. I was thirteen when I first listened to it and it just clicked in and hooked up in a minute. After that the Veneer album by José González. I just found that all of these records, while still the same genre of indie-folk, they sounded unique to me. I found something in them that I didn’t find in other artists and thought ‘okay, this is the direction I want to take’.

Do you have a favourite piece that you’ve done?

A: I’m really critical of myself, to be honest, but if I had to pick one I’d go for Beneath the Sun. It’s the second track of my latest release. The only reason I picked this was because in terms of sound, that’s the one where I’ve come closest to finding myself as an artist. Writing and creating music, it’s all about the development. I remember the first songs I wrote and they were terrible, but the more practice you get and the more inspiration you take in from other artists, the better you get. Beneath the Sun  best expresses who I’m trying to be as an artist, what I’m trying to sound like as an artist. Indie-folk, but without trying to copy anybody else, instead trying to make my own way. Obviously, influences are important, but I think an artist should look for their own unique sound.

Hopefully, I’ll be satisfied with my music one day [laughs]. Or maybe not, but I’ll keep pushing which gives me drive.

You want to carve out your own identity?

A: Exactly. I try to go my own way in every imaginable sense.

And how long have you been performing?

A: I started playing music live about ten years ago back at home. We’d mostly play covers, do a couple of venues, but it wasn’t that serious. I started studying songwriting in London in 2016. That was when I got really serious about this and thought ‘okay, I want to go for this’.

I do it because I love doing it. It’s not about the career, it’s a part of my life. Whatever I experience I just write it down, I try to riff on everything… I want to play as many gigs as possible. It’s not just about recording and releasing records, but also about performing live. Connecting to other people. That’s the beauty of it.

Where would you like this to take you?

A: The future is way too unpredictable, [laughs]. I would definitely keep writing as part of my everyday life, as my routine. Obviously it would be great to grow a fanbase, maybe sell out a few gigs around Dublin. But if it didn’t happen I’d be fine. If it takes off I’d consider that a bonus. Like I said, I’m doing this because I’m passionate about it. I love writing songs, I love telling people my stories. Music has always been a kind of magic to me, it colours everything I do.

Do you see yourself as a storyteller?

A: Yes, definitely. That’s the thing, it’s not just music but lyrics as well. Writing is like a mixture of music and poetry. I like to make my lyrics as poetic as possible. I like to make the music for the lyrics, and hope they mesh together well. Yeah, it’s storytelling altogether. That’s the point of writing music – saying something. Saying something that they’ve already heard in a  different way, or saying something new that they need to hear about in life.

Aron D

What’s the best venue you’ve performed at?

A: I played the Hard Rock Café in London a couple of years ago, that was pretty cool. This was back when I was performing covers so I didn’t have a lot of original tunes at the time, but that was a cool venue. I liked the atmosphere, but when it comes to the future my goal is to play somewhere like Whelans here in Dublin or Vicar Street. That would be huge.

I do prefer smaller venues, to be honest… it’s more intimate. You’ve got more opportunities to connect to the people, to the audience. When you have a stronger connection to the audience, I like that. I don’t have anything against larger stadiums or such, it’s just different, and I don’t think my music would be suitable for that sort of venue. I always prefer playing theatres, like The Olympia Theatre in Dame Street. That’s a nice venue.

Are you looking forward to the gig in The Cobblestone?

A: Absolutely. It’s going to be my first gig since about 2019. I had to take a break because of the pandemic, but I’ve been working on my songs and recordings. It’s going to be great. I like that the gig is going to be varied in terms of genre. We’re gonna have other Irish singers and writers, a jazz band at the end, and my stuff which has a more indie vibe to it. I like things that are colourful, versatile.

Do you draw a lot from your own life for inspiration?

Exclusively, to be honest. I tried writing songs with more fictional narratives and stories, but it never really worked out for me. Rather than telling a very detailed personal experience, I would prefer to grab an impression of that moment and try to write about that. So in that sense I’m not like that sort of folk artist [who transcribe their experiences]… like Bob Dylan, I’m not into that. I try to be more abstract about it. As I said, it’s important to approach writing from a unique way, to sound different.

Would it be fair to say there’s a melancholy undertone to your work?

A: Yeah, absolutely. With my new EP, the main subject or image that occurs is all about moving abroad, settling down in Ireland. Integration, which is difficult, and leaving everything behind that you once knew, everyone. It’s not going to be cheerful, the way I approached it, but at the same time…it’s not going to sound depressing. I know people would rather not feel down listening to something first thing at 9 am in the morning [laughs]. I try to find the way in between.

Aron D’s latest EP

Do you miss your family back home?

A: I do, of course, but honestly, I prefer living here. There are multiple reasons for it, but at the end of the day, I’m kind of a citizen of the world. I’ll always manage to integrate relatively fast. As long as you’re able to do that as an immigrant, you shouldn’t feel lonely or isolated. My family still comes to visit me… so we still got a connection, but I found my place here. I obviously still miss Hungary, I spent my childhood there, yet growing up there I always felt like an outsider.

Do you have any advice for newcomers who are trying to find their own way?

A: If I had advice for the younger generation, it would be to never be satisfied with mediocre ideas. Never give in to mediocrity. Always try to find your own way, which is difficult, but worth it.

You can catch Aron performing alongside The Hot Tolka Club, Elly D, and Nabil Gonzalez at The Cobblestone, April 21st at 19:30.

Tickets available here

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