JPR Live Session: Son Little
The artist formerly known as Aaron Livingston knows his nation well. The pastiche and reach of his music is literally all over the map, and he can hear a map in his music. In it, he can recognize the places he's lived, traveled, and played to, places explored and discovered. "I hear places in the songs without trying to evoke them while writing. I can trace where a lot of my music came from, as my life and my family touch so many different places. I can hear the Gulf Coast of Louisiana in my voice, the way I say some of the words; I hear New York, definitely in my lyrics. Detroit is a place I haven't spent a ton of time in, but if I explore the music of Detroit, I can hear myself in there, too."
Born in Los Angeles to a preacher and a teacher, as a kid he absorbed songs from dusty family records and learned saxophone and piano, though he felt more at home inventing his own language on those instruments rather than following the lesson plan. “I was always a writer," says the man formerly known as Aaron Livingston. "Before I really learned music, I was serious about writing. Didn’t matter what it was. Just playing with words.” He moved to New York and New Jersey, and dropped in and out of schools in Manhattan and Philadelphia. There he collaborated with acts like The Roots and RJD2.
He debuted as the artist Son Little with last year's highly praised EP, Things I Forgot; a small collection of big songs that showcased his ability to hop across genres as well he does state lines. It's all there: Triumph and trophies, hardship and heartache, soft sentences, loud chapters, facts and birthdays, faces and places and scrapes and scales, nights and weeks and years all lost, gone into the ether, slipped away, out-sizing our normal human bandwidth.