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Auburn musician inspired by everything from Prince to Debussy

Gayden first wrote music because of the ‘eternal catalyst:’ love
By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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Auburn resident Aaron Gayden, 42, thought he would play the flute when he was younger, but found his love of music through the piano. Gayden grew up in the Los Angeles Basin and moved to Auburn about four years ago. He is a full-time musician and member of several local bands, including the Aaron Gayden Band. Gayden sat down with the Journal to talk about his career and love of music. Question: When did you start playing and writing music? Gayden: I started playing piano at about age 5, started taking piano lessons. I actually wanted to play flute, and my parents said, ‘Piano is really a good basis or foundation for anything else musical, so start with piano.’ I started writing music mid-high school. (My reason for writing music was) the same as everyone’s: love. Q: What instruments do you play? G: I play basically keyboard, piano and bass guitar. I sing as well. Q: Who are some of your major influences and why? G: I would probably say my four biggest influences are Prince, Fred Hammond, he’s a gospel singer, probably Stevie Wonder and a group called the Yellowjackets. With Prince, his (music) because my favorite instrument is guitar and he is an amazing guitar player as well as everything else. Fred Hammond, he’s primarily a bass player and singer and his music, it always spoke to me, but particularly at a very difficult time in my life. Stevie Wonder, he’s probably the biggest musical genius, the first huge multi-instrumentalist, the most incredible voice and voice range. He writes things that, I think because he can’t see, he doesn’t know you can’t do that. He goes places other people don’t go and makes it so beautiful and effortless. The Yellowjackets, it’s my favorite jazz band and the keyboard player in particular. His name is Russell Ferrante. The voicings and sounds he chooses are just lush and rich, and it’s an amazing band all the way around. Q: What is one of the most memorable things you have done music wise? G: Singing at the Los Angeles (Memorial) Coliseum for a Christian men’s conference called ‘Promise Keeper.’ I was next to the stage at the time and there were probably about 75,000 men at the place singing, ‘Lord, I want to be a Christian.’ It was just an amazing, powerful moment to be a part of and witnessing at the same time. Q: What is your favorite song that you have written? G: The first one that came to mind was ‘I Belong to You.’ It’s because it’s a song to God, and it speaks of being loved, and accepted and cared for. I wrote it probably about 10, 12 years ago. Q: If you could meet and spend a day with a deceased musician, who would it be and why? G: Claude Debussy. I love his sense of harmony, and melody and his use of woodwinds and low horns, like the French horn. Those kinds of sounds made him a big draw for me. Q: Do you play gigs and where? G: On Sunday mornings I’m at Celebration Community Fellowship here in Auburn. I’m the chief musician, or what would usually be known as a musical director, there. Most Saturday nights I’m a worship leader at a church in Sacramento called New City Church. I play with a couple of local bands, one from Grass Valley/Nevada City and one that is based in Sacramento. I have played from Sonora to Petaluma with those groups. I also perform with my own group, the Aaron Gayden Band. Q: What was a memorable event the Aaron Gayden band played? G: Recently something that was really important for us is we played at a fundraiser … for a Courage House benefit. That’s an organization that builds homes to rehabilitate and benefit women who have been saved out of sex trafficking. Q: What advice would you like to give to aspiring musicians? G: Be as diverse, and flexible and well acquainted with your instrument or instruments (as possible). And be able to read and play by ear. And know that it’s hard and it’s worth it. It’s definitely both. Most overnight successes happen after 20, 15 years of paying your dues. ------------------------------------------------------ Want to hear some of Aaron Gayden’s music? Visit reverbnation/aarongayden