Published Jul 15, 2013Toronto artist-producer Bird's debut LP, La Notte, dropped just last week, but he's hardly new to the industry. La Notte gestated for a long time, even while Bird (a.k.a. Aaron Bird) worked as the music producer for travel adventure TV show Departures and for such artists as Abdominal and D-Sisive back in the mid- to late 2000s. The album, which is heavily influenced by old film soundtracks of the 1950s and '60s, was preceded by singles such as "Crazy" and "The Whole World Knows," which generated tremendous online buzz. As Bird points out, it's been a long time coming.
"I always had an idea of what I was going to do with an album," the Toronto native tells Exclaim! "It was just the fact that I didn't know what it would evolve into. I always kind of pictured it as an RJD2 or a DJ Shadow-type record, where there were instrumentals and MCs on certain tracks. I also thought about getting singers for certain tracks, but decided that I'd do it myself."
Going with the title La Notte (Italian for "the night") was all about going to a cinematic, soundtrack feel. "I'm a big fan of films and soundtracks from the early '60s and '70s. It was like, 'What better way to release an album than [by] actually creating a soundtrack?' I titled it La Notte because it's the title of one of my favourite films [from] back then. The themes are sort of these light and dark themes throughout," Bird says.
The album was heavily influenced by visuals, too. "I went to school for computer graphics, and I have always loved cinematography and films," notes Bird. "That was a big influence for me. So the process for this was basically [to] watch as much old material as I could: putting on old famous movies, get into that mood and just start creating music from there.
"To be honest, I've always loved singing, and did it when I was younger. But it wasn't like I compared to the greats. It got to the point where I was like, well, I can't reach out to all my favourite singers and get them to sing. Plus I didn't know if they would understand the mood of the song and the direction I wanted to go. So it was best that I just sang it myself."
Still, Bird grabbed a formidable guest list for La Notte, including Little Brother, Notes to Self, Odonis Odonis, Abdominal, D-Sisive and Tanika Charles.
"At first it was just that I wanted to reach out to some of my favourite MCs, and I wrote Little Brother, Ab, and I also wrote MF DOOM and a few others; even some of my favourite producers, like 9th Wonder and RJD2. It ended up that I connected with most of them, except for MF DOOM. Then I just started working with every one of them. Then Tanika Charles was a meet-and-greet through the Notes of Self crew. So everything was just organic in that way."
It was around 2003 or 2004 that Bird notes that he reached out to 9th Wonder, who produced album track "Still Shine."
"That was around a time where I basically needed music as a positive force in my life. It kept me going and 9th was one of the producers who wrote me back. He had listened to some of my stuff and was giving me pointers. 'Listen to the greats, dissect their songs,' that sort of thing. So that was one of the hugest things: getting notes from 9th Wonder, and also RJD2. That made me inspired."
With La Notte out, Bird is now looking to the future. He tells Exclaim! to expect a live show — "No plans on specific dates," he notes — plus a video for "Still Shine," which was shot in early July and should be out in short order. In addition, Bird is already at work on a new EP, "which is coming along really well," he adds.
"I just wanted this to be a business card sort of thing. A 'here is what I can do' sort of thing," he explains. "I just wanted to work with artists who are dedicated and have the want to make really great music."
La Notte is out now on Bird's own Lost Metropolis Records. Give it a listen below.