Wednesday, 8 February 2012

60 SECONDS INTERVIEW: Aaron Riley (a/k/a Negativity)

AT THE age of just 16, Aaron Riley, a/k/a 'Negativity', recently became one of the first young musicians to receive a donation from the Fin Gun Fund for young musicians.

Aaron is honing his talent as a rap artist and has already written and recorded a lot of original material. He has performed at a number of events in and around West Dorset and his work has been well received by audiences young and old.

Aaron is a student at the Dorchester Learning Centre where he is working towards his GCSEs, and a future on the rap circuit. He lives in Dorchester with his mum.

HOW did you end up writing rap songs?
I never used to like rap at all, but and as I got older I made some friends at school who had started listening to it. We used to rap along to the songs in the playground for a laugh, and then I got asked by one of my teaching assistants if I’d ever written a rap. I said, ‘No, I can’t and probably never will’, but one day I was bored so I thought I’d try and that’s how I ended up writing my first rap.

WHAT was your first song about?
It was about a girl that I was with and we broke up. I always used to rap about the difficult things in life. That’s why I’m called ‘Negativity’. These days I rap about a much wider range of things and do much more upbeat songs as well, but when I started out my songs were usually about life’s struggles; the loss of a loved one, that kind of thing. Rap music is about expressing your feelings.  As I’ve got older and perfected certain parts of my rapping I’ve widened my range to include some more positive songs. What I love about rap is that it doesn’t hide behind doors - it’s the truth.

SO, how do you go about writing a rap?
I usually start by writing my ideas out on a notepad, and as I’m dyslexic and find it hard to spell it’s always a bit rough. Next, I type it up on a computer and my keyworker at school helps me with the spelling. When it’s time to record it, I can go to Bridport Youth Centre, or the youth centre in Dorchester and now that I have all the equipment I need, me and my friends can put down the tracks.

HOW did the Fin Gun fund help you?
They’ve been really generous and have given me about £150 worth of equipment. I was told by my keyworker that a musician called Fin Gun had died and that he had always wanted to help young musicians like me. So, I ended up writing a letter explaining how me and my friends didn’t have any recording equipment  and they got back and said they’d donate me some money if I would perform at a benefit gig in Finn’s memory. That was at Bridport Arts Centre in December. I’d already had the equipment by then – I got a microphone, a mic-stand a ‘pop-shield’, which is something that stops the pops you get when you speak certain sounds like ‘p’ and ‘b’.

ARE there certain rapping techniques you’ve had to develop?
Well, I’ve released the ‘inner attitude’- which is when your voice hardens and has a ‘don’t care’ attitude that gives it the rap effect. Then there’s beat boxing, but I don’t do much of that. There are the gestures and movements too, but I mainly do that when I’m performing rather than in the studio because I don’t want to move away from the mic and ruin the recording.

WHO have you perfomed for?
I’ve performed for all age groups. My music isn’t really for any special age group. Last summer I performed at the ‘Anonymous Festival’, in Maumbury Rings, which is probably the biggest one I’ve done. I also did the ‘One World Festival’ at Kings Road Park. I’ve done lots of little gigs too.

WHAT are your three all-time favourite rap songs?
My number three is Techn9nes’s ‘Midwest Choppers’, it’s a really fast rap and I’m very fascinated by speed at the moment; Number two is one of my songs actually, ‘Always in my Thoughts’ which is the one about my Grandad. My keyworker, Clare, cried twice over that one. My number one would have to be Biggie Smalls ‘Everyday Struggle’ – it was on his first album and it’s quite an old skool track.

WHAT are your ambitions for the future?
Ideally, I’d like to get signed to a record company, that’s the top aim, then lots of people can hear my music, but it all depends whether I can get seen enough really. When I finish school I’m hoping to go to Poole College to do a Level 2/3 NVQ in Music, and then if I can I’d like to go on to University and get a Diploma in Music.

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