Chicago-based soul singer-songwriter Aryk Crowder will be embarking on a string of Midwestern dates in the coming weeks, kicking off the stretch with a visit to the Do317 Lounge on March 29. Crowder's set comes on the heels of his 2010 debut solo EP, Ready, Set..., and 2012's Over Being Over, a release recorded and co-produced with Greg Magers of Lupe Fiasco's The Cool.
Crowder initially started out by crafting rhythm and blues-inspired music with a four-track tape recorder in his modest Windy City apartment. Pulling early inspiration from Jimi Hendrix guitar licks and the vocals of Al Green, Crowder refined his sound with the focus of a determined artist and worked his way up to getting booked at heralded venues throughout Chicago.
NUVO caught up with Crowder to discuss his upcoming Indianapolis visit, his current projects and what fuels him as an independent artist on the rise.
NUVO: What do you hope the audience takes away from your live show?
Aryk Crowder: A great time. As an artist, that's the simplest thing we can ask of anyone in attendance. The fact that we can entertain someone, put a smile on their face, and leave them feeling better then when they came in.
NUVO: And what do you wish to take away from each new show?
Crowder: New fans, of course! I'm now able to start expanding my tour, so being able to play to new people, new cities and new venues is really exciting.
NUVO: You cite Jimi Hendrix and Al Green, respectively, as inspirations for your guitar work and warm sound. Any additional influences who resonate for you and inspired the sound and writing of Ready, Set... and Over Being Over?
Crowder: Prince is also a big inspiration for me as well, especially on Ready, Set... However, what influences me as an artist has a wide range. Even though I'm typically a soul singer, I find inspiration in pop, rock, hip-hop and even country.
As of late I even find inspiration from stand-up comedy as well. I'm not saying I'm looking to be the next Weird Al, but it's whatever makes you think, and moves you to create. Comedians have to constantly be coming up with new material. They can't ride the same joke for 15 years like a musician can ride a song. I definitely find that type of creativity inspiring.
NUVO: At this point in your career, what's your benchmark for success as an artist and musician?
Crowder: Simply put, consistent growth. As long as I can keep playing the music I write and inspire someone to be happier, do better, to enjoy life...that's what I view as successful. I think that's what most musicians want when they're just getting started. To be appreciated for what they create.
NUVO: How much is the city of Chicago hard-wired into your music?
Crowder: I can't really say that it is. I love Chicago as it's my home, but it's not what makes me. The one thing you can say that is wired into me is my desire to always be growing as a musician. I've been blessed to have played with some fantastic Chicago musicians who keep me humble.
NUVO: What do you have on the horizon for the rest of 2014?
Crowder: My new record! I just wrapped up most of the recording for my next project, 2x4. It's a series of two EPs, the first of which to be released this summer. I've got a Pledge Music campaign (www.pledgemusic.com/projects/arykcrowder) that will be starting in late March as so I can fund this album and get it out. I also have all my music, video and social media links up on my website (www.arykcrowder.com).
In addition to the new record, I'll also be donating a portion of the proceeds to the Greater Chicago Food Depository. They're a great charity that helps feed hungry families in the Chicago area.
NUVO: Any music/films/books/life events that have captured your attention and have been inspiring you lately?
Crowder: I recently watched a documentary called Miss Representation. It's a look into how the media shapes society's perception of women and gender roles. Shortly after watching it I was inspired to write a song I titled "Perfect Body" that will be on 2x4.