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by Silke Hartung

Aidan Fine: C’est La Vie

by Silke Hartung

Aidan Fine: C’est La Vie

Born in the US,  Aidan Fine grew up in South Africa and now calls Auckland home. The 20-year old hip hop artist’s name could be mistaken for a stage name, but, as he assures NZM, that’s the real Aidan Fine standing up to the mic. In early March, he released a single titled CLV with mates Elijah Manu and Albert Purcell, better known as Church & AP. He had earlier joined them on stage at last year’s Rhythm & Vines to perform the song in front of 7000 people, his biggest audience to date. NZM caught up with the prolific songwriter.

How did you get into music, and can you tell us how that led to hip hop? 

I got into music through a process of trial and error, to be honest. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the movie Soul, but I watched that recently and my musical journey was kind’a like that. I tried everything, and then I found my ‘spark’ was making songs.

Not all rappers create their own beats. There’s a lot of musicality in yours…

Thanks! For most of the music I write, I produce it myself. It’s only been for the last few months that I’ve been working with other producers like Edyonthebeat and Dera Meelan.

As much as I love producing, I only learnt how to do it out of necessity. When I was starting out as a shitty rapper in a massive city in South Africa, I don’t think anyone wanted to make my beats, so I had to figure it out myself. I’m glad I did though because I do love it, and now I get to produce for other people too, which is crazy to me.

Who do you work with mostly to create music, also behind the scenes?

I’ve spent quite a lot of time in the studio with Church & AP in the last few months, working on the first part of their album and whatnot. That’s the family, I’m always grateful for the love YKK show me. I’ve also spent a lot of time working with Sam V, Eli Wilson, BrokeBoi Ace, Edyonthebeat, Jarna, and heaps of other really talented artists and producers. I feel really lucky!

What gear do you use when you work on music?

Mostly my laptop, running Logic Pro X. I don’t really use much hardware outside of the studio monitors and the microphone, to be honest.

How would you describe your style of hip hop?

My influences change often, depending on what’s speaking to me at the time, but some of my main ones would be Saba, Aminé, Kanye West and Brockhampton. 

I’d describe my style of hip hop as honest. It always comes from somewhere within, or at least that’s what I try to do. I’m not philosophising to try and change other people, I’m really just tryna figure myself out. It’s kind’a like my diary, only everyone has access to it…

You just released CLV which is a collab with Church & AP. Who came up with which parts.

The song all started with that percussion loop you hear at the very start of the song. I think Edy found it while he was looking for sounds to use in a class that he teaches at Avondale High, and he bookmarked that one because he ‘heard’ something.

Sometimes he hears full-fledged beats in his head just from one note or one drum sound. This was actually our first ever session, and he pulled up that percussion loop and started making this crazy beat that he had in his head. I had never tried rapping to that sort of beat before, so I really didn’t think I could write anything. I kind’a forced myself though, because I didn’t wanna ruin our first ever session by not having anything. I’m glad I did because I surprised myself.

I left that session with the chorus and my verse, and I knew I wanted to get Church & AP on it. A couple of days later I took the song to one of our sessions working on At Thy Feet, I played it for them, and they really liked it. They recorded their verses, and after a few months of reworking certain aspects, performing the song live to see the crowd’s reaction, and tweaking small details in the mix, it felt ready.

Someone offers you to curate a small festival line up, who would you book?

Myself! RnV, please book me! Haha, just kidding. (Not really…) Other than that, I can honestly say with full confidence that Sam V has one of the best live sets in the country. The fact that he’s not already on heaps of festival line-ups baffles me. I’m not saying this because he’s my friend, I actually don’t even like him that much. But damn, he can sing. 

What was your strategy when applying to get NZOA funding for CRV?

I’m so incredibly grateful for this! I was not expecting it, to be honest. I’ve applied before and I didn’t get it when I really thought I would, so I guess I had low expectations. But damn, we got it! I think it comes down to the song itself, and your pitch has to really sell the potential for the song to do well. 

You have already achieved plenty, pretty much out of your own drive. What tip about the music game would you give young kids trying to get to where you are?

Ah, thank you! That’s really kind. My biggest tip about the music industry would be to stay who you are, and don’t change that for anything. Just do you. A wise man once told me that you will always get what you’re worth, so stick with it.

What vision have you got for yourself, artistically. What art do you want to create in the long run?

I want to be in a position where I can entertain my wildest ideas and just go with it. I wanna make a groundbreaking album. I wanna write TV shows. I wanna start a toothpaste company. I wanna be able to wake up with an idea and pursue it until it exists in the real world.

Please finish the sentence: When heading out to record in the studio don’t forget your…

… water bottle!

How far off is the video for CLV?

We’re beginning pre-production in a few weeks and filming begins shortly after, so it’s a little while out, but worth the wait!

And what’s next for Aidan Fine?

I have heaps of collaborations coming up actually – look out for the Y$O album coming soon. I’m also gonna spend a lot of time rehearsing with my live band because I wanna take my shows to the next level. Other than that, I’m really excited to keep exploring the local scene and learning from my contemporaries. 

Made with the support of NZ On Air.