ARTIST NAME: Aaron Kusterer
SONG TITLE: One Shade Away
RELEASE DATE: April 30, 2019
Guitarist/vocalist Aaron Kusterer has worked with Jennifer Batten (Michael Jackson, Jeff Beck), Latin Grammy winner Juanes, classic rocker Eddie Money, and others. His latest single is entitled “One Shade Away.”
The jubilant and funky track spotlights Kusterer’s high-energy songwriting and guitar playing; an approach forged by the massive songbook he performed as a former musical director of the U.S. Air Force Band.
“One Shade Away” features Chad Clark on drums and Natasha Remi on background vocals, and was self-produced, engineered, and mixed in Kusterer’s personal studio.
“I’ve always loved bands that had big vocals, sing-along choruses, and heavy guitars, and with everything packing a massive punch,” says Kusterer. “‘One Shade Away’ is a peek into these musical elements that inspired me when I was growing up, and I wanted to take a shot at bringing them together in my own way.”
Tell us how to refine a demo to a mastered song.
Refining a demo is something that I think probably changes over time depending on where someone is at in their musical journey.
As far as how is concerned, I believe that paying attention to what a song needs and deserves is crucial.
Once you start giving a song what it is asking for, then the picture of the final product becomes more and more clear.
The key is to know what to give it and that involves stepping in and out of the artist’s shoes to try to see it for what it is.
Discuss the processing involved in creating a song.
For me, inspiration can be drawn from anything, anywhere. Once I have an idea, I try to run with it as far as I can in a particular moment.
Often, new ideas for the song will start to pop out once I’ve gotten that initial thought written down or recorded.
Sometimes it starts with just a melody and other times it’s a cool chord progression or lyric. This process often involves the piano as that was my first instrument prior to playing the guitar.
Elaborate on the themes of most of your songs.
My themes vary pretty widely. Often though, I tend to lean towards being more cynical and speak a little more pointed than the average pop song. Much of this is because I prefer to get into emotions and topics that aren’t covered as often.
Tell us your greatest musical works up to date.
Honestly, I recently scored a short film and it sits right in the big orchestral vein and I’m pretty happy with how it came out.
Tell us how you are handling the promotion of your music.
At the moment, I’m working through social media greatly along with several placement entities.
Tell us your future goals and how you aim to accomplish them.
I really enjoy working for other artists actually. Working as a guitarist/singer backing up the primary artist is truly where my heart is at so my goal would be doing that full time. At the moment, I move between doing that, producing, teaching, writing, and audio engineering.
Tell us what you think has changed in the music industry.
I think the focus on real-world talent has shifted. I think that the focus is more on what can be packaged as opposed to having someone who is truly a professional at their craft. A wonderful example is Lady Gaga, she is absolutely the professional’s professional. Personal decisions aside, I don’t think the industry was able to contain her. The business model is very set on what can be packaged and they tried for a while with her but you can’t just keep containing that level of ability because at some point it becomes a hindrance to the artist.
Just look at what she has accomplished without the standard industry model . . . the Tony Bennett performances and recordings, the duet with Sting (King of Pain live), amongst many other successes. You don’t get to work with Sting unless you’re legitimately good. That is another level of ability that few attain regardless of where they sit on the Billboard charts. This is purely my opinion of course.
Tell the greatest mistake to avoid while making a song.
Putting barriers up as to what you want/don’t want to do. That will limit creativity every time.
Tell us how you boost your performance.
Through continuous self-examination and process improvement – If you run across something that needs to be improved, then work to improve it!
Explain the structure of the song.
‘One Shade Away’ adheres to a fairly standard song form: intro, verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, solo, chorus out.
Discuss how the instruments come together for a song.
For this recent song, One Shade Away, the guitars drive it tremendously. I’m a huge fan of funky guitar and because of the groove I chose for this song, I thought it would be good to go with it.
In a more general sense, instrumentation and arrangement are huge when it comes to songwriting and can truly make or break a song. I think the key is making sure that each part has a purpose.
State your musical skills.
Guitar, singing, and piano.
Tell us if you consider acting in a movie.
No, probably not. That isn’t really something I have much interest in.
Tell us how you eliminate noise in your recordings.
By trying to get as clean of a recording during the capture phase to avoid having to deal with noise at all in the mix phase.
List the name of artists you cherish most.
Toto, Dann Huff, Brent Mason, Brad Paisley, Winger, Chaka Khan…
Tell us how you get inspiration.
From anywhere and anything.
Elaborate on the song.
The song takes on a slightly different meaning between verses. Verse one involves trying to get ahead in the music industry (or life for that matter) and just feeling like you’re never quite good enough.
Verse two refers to working hard to fit in and get in with the “cool kids” but dealing with the fact that it can be incredibly fragile and can all fall away in an instant. The chorus ties these two concepts together by saying that life is a balancing act regardless of where you are and what you’re doing. We are all always just one shade away from something. Either from something we want or losing something we have.