Monday, September 28, 2009

Interview with Ari Hest

Earlier this afternoon, we talked with solo artist, Ari Hest. He provided us with an incredible amount of insight about the music industry, and what it means to be TRULY independent …we’re talking no record label. He is an incredibly talented artist who has learned everything by going out and trying it first hand. From songwriting, to singing, and recording, Ari wants aspiring artists to know that they shouldn’t let anything hold them back. You can see more of him on his website Check out the interview below to see what he had to say!

Ashley: How did you get started in the music industry?

Ari: I started when I was a late teenager, and my music found the ear of a booking agent and he said he could get me some gigs. He said he could get me on college campuses in the Midwest. I went to school and worked (on music) at the same.

Ashley: What other music artists inspire you?

Ari: The Beatles as a kid. I know everyone says that but I listened to my parent’s albums such as Abby Road. They taught me songs, song writing, forms of song writing and guitar features, just listening to them. Today, friends of mine that play in New York inspire me. There are a lot of talented people. We have become friendly and listening to them, I’m like wow; I want to sound like them.

Ashley: What other activities do you like to do outside of music?

Ari: I’m a sports fanatic. I play baseball in the summer, in the city. Aside from that, I like to eat food. I just started to cook, and just bought a juicer so I am learning how to use that right now. Just taking it one day at a time. But other then that, um, same as anyone else does. The first thing I turned to when I am not playing music is something sports related.

Ashley: You were with a national label and left them to be on your own, what were the challenges of promoting yourself as an independent artist versus having a national record label helping you?

Ari: The biggest challenge is finances. Not having a label doesn’t let you get a whole lot done at a national, macro level, but I can get a lot done at a smaller level. I can be in charge of everything and do what I want to do. That includes recording. I have to make choices that were not always up to me. I’m the kind of person that likes to take care of my own things and be the boss. If a label came along that was really interested in me, a small label, I would consider it, but for now I am happy taking care of myself.

Ashley: How do you handle the financial part on your own?

Ari: It’s very difficult. Through touring, CDs and past CDs. Records budgets don’t have to be as big as they used to be, the industry is in kind of a strange phase right now so you can do a lot. I don’t need a whole lot to put out an album. But if I want to get on the radio or get on stores like Wal-Mart, its difficult with out a label.

Ashley: Your music has been on programs like Army Wives how did you make that happen? Did you get to go to the set of the show?

Ari: I was chosen to be put on this one episode. It was great. I know the show is popular so it’s always cool when that thing happens. It’s funny because sometimes the song doesn’t fit the episode. I remember when that song was in the episode and it actually fit. I just had another one of my songs put in a Brazilian soap opera, in a wedding scene, and it had nothing to do with song. But then again, I don’t know Portuguese.

Ashley: You went to the Democratic National Convention since your song "Reason to Believe" became an Obama Youtube video. Who invited you to play there and how was that experience?

Ari: I was invited by people working at the convention. It was great to be apart of it; the whole city was very energetic about what was going on. There were so many shows going on the weekend I was there. You got to see so many people regarding change, and people were so excited for their country, which is something I have not experienced my whole life.

Ashley: What is life on the road and how does it affect your personal life?

Ari: Life on the road is very difficult on your personal life. For me, I’m not married and I think that if I was, it would be much more difficult. But since I’m not, it allows me to do whatever I want. I enjoy it; I enjoy the people I tour with. It’s nice to get away from home when you want to be.

Ashley: Since you are independent, what is touring like?

Ari: I tour when I want to. I know my limits on how long I want to be gone at one time and I make sure I wont overdue it.

Ashley: What is your biggest piece of advice for aspiring artists?

Ari: We are in a stage where you can do it better yourself. I would say, don’t hold back so that someone will come along and make your career for you. Learn about as much you can and all different sides of what you do, not just the singing or song writing but also learn how to record, learn the business side of it and even if your not good at it, like me, you will be get better at it. The more you can do, the better. The reason I am where I am with my career is because I learned about it.

Ashley: Did college prepare you for the music industry?

Ari: No, not at all. Glad I finished and maybe one day I will put the knowledge to use but maybe by then I won’t be able to recall what I learned. So we will see what happens.

Ashley: Do you write all your songs? What inspires you to write songs?

Ari: I write about 90 % by myself and the rest are with few other people. I enjoy doing both. Writing can be tough. I also have written for other people.

What inspires me? It Can be anything. It depends on the day. Sometimes you’re not really inspired to write lyrics if nothing’s happening, so you wait for the next day. You wait for something bad or good to happen to write about. It’s based on how you’re feeling that moment, that day.

Ashley: What is the hardest part about the industry?

Ari: At this point, it’s not knowing how it will be in the next year, let alone the next month. It’s changing all the time and you have to stay ahead of the game. The project I did last year, 52, helped me get ahead of the game. But I don’t know what’s going to happen with me now, and I don’t know what form I will release it in. You have to stay with the times, which is the hardest part.

Ashley: How do you describe your music?

Ari: That’s a difficult question; I guess I’m a singer/songwriter. It’s just kind of like straight forward and about my voice more than all that’s going on around my voice. The song is more important than the company and my record.

Ashley: Do you have any major goals or future plans right now?

Ari: I’m trying to do some things outside of America, get going in different countries and learning from different parts of counties. I want to be in parts of Europe by the end of the year and go back to Ireland and hopefully south America, which is something I haven’t been able to do up until now. I’m trying to learn cultures, which is one of the benefits of touring. I’m just trying to do as much touring as I can.

Extras Notes from Ashley:

Song of Ari’s from Army Wives (Season 1 episode 3): Bird Never Flies

Ari’s Myspace:

Ari’s “Reason to Believe” used in Democratic Convention:


  1. I really enjoyed seeing how a VT grad moved forward in their career. Great job!