Aaron Holstein of VibeSquaD on balancing his family/home life with being a touring DJ
Aside from touring as a solo act under the VibeSquaD moniker, Aaron Holstein has found the perfect balance between being a highly sought-after EDM producer and his duties as a father. Following a successful stint on Bassnectar's Vava Voom tour, Holstein has settled in for 2013 by touring with electro-jam rockers Lotus. Based here in Denver, one of America's EDM hotbeds, Holstein creates music that straddles several genres, blurring the lines between breakbeats and bass music without straying far from his hip-hop roots. Live, a VibeSquaD show can quickly go from Holstein setting the groove with a nice house tempo to an insane, raging, full-blown dance party.
Westword: Tell me what it's like being a touring DJ with a family to support and how you maintain a healthy relationship with them.
Aaron Holstein: Touring is a challenge, even when you're single. It's certainly a big challenge with a wife and two kids. Balance is key. I'm fortunate to have a great family who supports what I do, but, in turn, I work really hard to be present and helpful when I'm home. I try to make it to as many karate belt testings, hockey games, piano recitals as possible. I take my kids to the skate park and tear it up with them. I make music with them. I drive carpool to school and activities. And I work really hard on music during the day while my kids are at school and my wife is at work. I try to make sure I don't travel too much and leave for too long. It's definitely challenging, but worth it.
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To me, break beats were a natural evolution for dance music. Why have you enjoyed this realm so much?
I've always been a fan of the funk, hip hop, soul, et cetera. I really like backbeats. They create movement and motion and rhythmic "conversations" in the music that I resonate with. When I first heard breakbeat music, like Tipper and SOTEG, I was like, "That's my shit! Let me at this."
Did it ever occur to you to move into the dubstep world, or drum-and-bass, or trance? These are some very broad terms nowadays, and your music touches on all of them, but how do you maintain your integrity as an artist while making music you love?
I listen to tons of different music styles, and I borrow lots from different genres. It never feels right to copy a trendy style just to be more "in." I learn from styles and genres, and I like to hear them emerge and evolve, but I don't like to imitate. I just make music that I love and hope that others will like it, too.
What do you think of how mainstream EDM is getting these days with people like Skrillex sweeping dance categories at the Grammys?
I think it is really interesting. I wish everyone the best. Skrillex is really talented. My sons love him. His music appeals to a ton of people and he turned a lot of rock fans on to electronic music. It's not surprising that he wins awards
Have you ever worked outside of your element on other musical projects -- minus Zilla/FJP/etc. -- more along the lines of commercial music production?
Yes. I have written and produced music for other artists. I have recently been playing lots of guitar, bass, drumming, singing and producing some tracks that don't necessarily fit the VibeSquaD sound. I'm not sure what to do with them yet. Maybe an Aaron Holstein album might emerge that is more song based...
And finally, what is on the scope for you going into 2013?
I'm working on a new full length album right now. I have a bunch of new material for it -- more than twenty unfinished new tracks. We'll see how many make the cut. [It will] probably drop it in April/May. I'm playing weekend shows right now and working in the studio all week. Next month, I am going on a tour with the band Lotus. I hope to play a ton of festivals this summer.
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