John Aram: “What thrills me is making progress together in stride with other musicians.”
John Aram is a Heart of the City alumnus. He played with his band, Anjelitos, at our in-person music event at CO*LAB in August of 2021. He has played the festival in the past with other bands and works at the Bissell Centre as an advocate for the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum of Services (FASS) Program.
In Iran, where John is from, his mother would “drag” him out to her vocal and accordion lessons. “She would play accordion at the house all the time. Then she signed me up for piano once we got into Canada and I did that for a couple of years I think, and I just wasn’t super into it. I took a break from that,” John explains.
John knew he had to get a drum set after hearing Led Zeppelin’s _II _(on cassette) as well as the band Green Day as a teen. “I asked my dad for a drum set and he said no and my mom made him buy one. As you would figure, he was not very stoked because it’s really loud. He likes it now and he will actually come to shows and hang out.”
John is currently “maxed out” in three projects: “One is called Party Jacket and that is with Billie Zizi, Lindsay Pratt, and others. We have been together for a few years and we write little funky dancey quirky originals and do some covers. The other one is Angelitos which is Afro-Latin pop mainly from the songbook of Allan Suarez. We are playing at the Sasquatch Gathering this summer,” he says.
His latest project is Funk Cove, which he describes as “a collaboration between Mike Siek, Pat Pillay, myself, and two horn players, Brandy MacLean and Laurel Sadownik. We also brought in Louise Dawson [on vocals]. Pat, Mike, and I have been practicing the songs for over a year, and then once things cooled down a little with the pandemic we brought the horn players and finally Louise. It’s been a great collaboration because we do covers and we have three or four originals now.”
When I asked John what it’s like to be part of what he calls “a band family” he said, “It’s really challenging. You have to try your best to be supportive and check in on people and see how they are doing, as well as knowing when to compromise on an artistic vision and knowing when to just let people express themselves. I think it’s generally more important for people in the band to feel involved, to feel like they are contributing, than to necessarily have a strict idea.”
I asked John what thrills him. “What thrills me is making progress together in stride with other musicians, listening deeper, polishing up performances, and I love playing to a packed bar. That’s just the best thing. Getting t-shirts for the first time for Funk Cove is really thrilling too because I’ve never had band t-shirts before!”
If you want to check out one of Angelitos’, Party Jacket’s, or Funk Cove’s shows, you can look them up and follow them on social media. You can also order the new Funk Cove t-shirts through Funk Cove’s Facebook (@funkcove).
Corine Demas serves as President of the Heart of the City Festival Society of Edmonton. Corine is passionate about poetry, storytelling, and her city, Edmonton. She lives in McCauley.