“When it comes to becoming a musician, people always ask, ‘Where do you start?’ The first instrument I played was the trumpet in the fourth grade. I was kind of serious about it, and I almost went to school for classical trumpet performance when I was growing up in Westchester. When I was maybe 13 or 14 I got an electric bass. I started playing it in a band, and then I slowly fumbled around the guitar, played a little piano. At 16 I got a laptop with GarageBand on it, and I started to try to make my own songs. My dad is a songwriter—he’s still writing songs. My mom was a dancer at one point in her life. Music was always around. So I feel lucky to have been exposed to songwriting from a young age.
Three or four years ago I signed a record deal with Domino, and from that moment on I was like, ‘I’m so lucky—my job is to create stuff.’ I do not want to take that for granted at all. It’s a nine-hour-day thing, just like a regular job. It can be such a beautiful, exciting, comforting thing to make music, and sometimes it can be gut-wrenching—like, what am I doing, this is garbage. You can’t come up with something brilliant every day, but if I work for nine hours and there’s nothing, I can barely have a conversation with anyone. Whereas if I get something good, I’m like, ‘Hey! What’s up! Have a great day!’ [Laughs] It’s interesting—when you work out of your room, it’s just there, always. I wish I could afford a studio, so when I leave work, I leave. That time away is just as valuable as the time you spend on it.
I try to keep [my creative process] rigid as fuck, because it’s crazy to not have any sort of structure. As in, I feel crazy. So I eat my meals almost militantly, at certain hours of the day, wake up at a certain time, and try to make a routine. I get up early, get coffee, and write for like an hour. And then I’ll come back, and I’ll look at what I wrote and see if there’s anything that feels like a good idea. After that I’ll sit with a guitar or the piano and flip through my notebook and try singing different things out until something clicks. And then I kind of take it from there.
In a week I turn 30, and I’ve started to gravitate towards some more self-care things. It helps with a lot. I think if you take that kind of time for yourself you put out different, more positive energy. That sounds good to me. I really like how it feels to be clean and fresh, and smell good. I’ll save that moment of the day for when I need it the most, usually around 5PM, so I’ll shower and shave then. I really fuck with Aesop. I use the Parsley Seed Serum and Parsley Seed Moisturizer. It’s so obnoxiously expensive, but they hooked me. I like how it feels—maybe it’s in my head, but I feel like it’s calming, and there are good ingredients, and it smells really fresh. I’ll wash my face with it. Then I use toner—I have two. I use the Aesop Balancing Toner, but Ultra Aesthetics MSM Toner is pretty tight too. I like that it’s in a spray bottle, and I’m more inclined to spritz it on because it’s convenient. I feel like it does something—it also smells good. There’s this nighttime slop I put on my face, also from Aesop. It makes my skin feel really soft. If I shave, I use the Moroccan Neroli Post-Shave Lotion. I just use Gillette shaving cream and disposable razors—try to keep it sharp. I really like the Kiehl’s Blue Astringent—it feels good after shaving. It must have some alcohol in it, because it stings a little bit. It’s so expensive and it always gets taken away at the airport. I always forget about the bottle size rule on airplanes.
BODY & FRAGRANCE
I really like this Eucerin Calming Body Wash—it smells like a grandma, or something. But it feels good. And I love the Aesop deodorant. I have a bunch of fragrances. I was into the Tacit scent from Aesop for a while, and then I got kind of tired of it. Now I have Kiehl’s Musk, which I really like. That’s kind of been my vibe for a couple months now. There’s this coffee shop called Homecoming in Greenpoint that has some small runs of these floral scents that I like, but they’re kind of intense. And then my friend Phil has this scent company called Hawthorne. It’s really special. They have a site where you fill out this extensive survey, and they give you two scents that can work daytime and nighttime. So I use those now, too.
My mom had a Mason Pearson forever, but I couldn’t bring myself to spend—how much are they? Like 300 bucks or something? Insane. So I just went on Amazon and found one with five stars, and it was like 30 bucks. It feels so good. I got this Nakano Styling Wax from the guy who cut my hair. Oh yeah, I also like the Oribe Gold Lust Hair Oil. Back when I had bleached hair it calmed it down and made it feel less dead. I kind of switched to the wax now, because it’s a little heavier, and it makes it sit. I basically never wash my hair. I’ll rinse it with a bunch of water and scrub it out, but it’s been so long that my scalp has adjusted and doesn’t get greasy. I put wax and the oil in it every day, and it just works. I think your body remembers how to work if you’re not stripping it of everything. I cut my hair once every two months or so–it depends on the haircut. Like, when I had it bleached, it was a lot more maintenance because I would trim the sides and the bleach would be gone. It was kind of a nightmare. I’m trying to grow it out this winter so I can get it to a nice little bob situation. It is fun with the hair thing, knowing that in however many months I will be taking new press photos, and I like the idea of them being different than the old ones. Some people know what they like and stick with it, and that’s their look, and that’s cool. But I’ve always been interested in trying new things, and different clothes and hair. I’ll look back and there are some things that I’ve tried that I’m like, ugh. Excruciatingly bad. I hope no one ever sees those pictures of me with like, a beard and aviators. But it’s also fun to experiment.
Occasionally I wear [makeup]. I like a little lipstick on my eyelids sometimes, like a darker red kind of thing. Recently I bought my first thing of mascara, and I like just a little touch of that. It’s just black, but I think it looks really beautiful. I use Covergirl Clump Crusher. That’s pretty much it, but it feels good to have a little something. I guess it’s usually eyes—I don’t do much more than that. Sometimes I paint my nails. I like getting mani-pedis. I tried that for the first time a year and a half ago, and I don’t know. It feels good to pamper yourself, even if there’s no nail polish or anything. It’s nice to have someone touch your hands and clean them up. There’s this spa called Hollywood Nails and Spa on Houston and 1st I think, and they’re really sweet.
I started doing yoga for the first time ever three or four months ago, and it’s kind of been a massive thing. I do it every day now. I didn’t realize how much it really helps, to do something physical. Especially when you’re sitting all day. I just feel more equipped, emotionally, to face anything—whether it’s music or my personal life. It helps to take a second and breathe, and kind of open up. I feel more at peace. I was going to this studio in Greenpoint for a while, but it was hard to keep it up because I would go on tour. For a short time I started going to the gym. I would go on the elliptical for 45 minutes, and time has never passed slower than that. Every second felt like five minutes. And yoga flies by—it’s crazy. The hour feels like ten minutes. I’m glad I found something that’s not excruciating.”
—as told to ITG
Aaron Maine photographed by Tom Newton on September 24, 2018.