Ari Hest will be performing live on stage at Cinema Salem on April 14th, 2016 at 8:30 PM – Tickets here

Q&A with Ari Hest

How did your childhood engender a love of music? When did you realize you wanted to devote your life to music writing and performing?

As a kid I actually wasn’t that avid a music listener. I didn’t own albums. I occasionally listened to my older brother’s albums, and I noticed I could sing along random harmonies with ease, but I didn’t really think that was out of the ordinary.

Near the end of high school, a friend was playing guitar in the hallway of one of the buildings, and he was playing songs I knew and liked. He passed me the guitar to try it out and it’s all been downhill from there, ha.

There’s a YouTube video showing you sharing the stage with your mom. How did that happen and how did it feel?

There’s a song I sometimes play in my sets that I invite an audience member up to sing part of. That particular night, the crowd was sheepish when I asked for a volunteer, so my mother yelled out “I’ll do it”, and I agreed. After all, she can sing her ass off. It was a little weird at first to have her up there but it turned out to be really enjoyable.

As opposed to some popular music, a lot of the themes of your songs seem are devoted to a deeper understanding the most important things in life? Some artists want to escape life’s complexity, but you seem to want to embrace it. Is that a fair statement? 

I think I’m one of those people who try to embrace all of it because I don’t know how not to. Escaping reality has never been my strongsuit. Even though I like to have fun, I’m on the serious side, and that’s probably because I come from a family of worriers. I talk about some of those worries in my songs perhaps as an outlet. Maybe that’s the way I escape reality. Who knows. 

Does audiences’ responses to your music differ in different parts of the country, or in different parts of the world?

European audiences tend to listen more intently. Some areas of the states are great(Massachusetts!) and some aren’t as attentive. It also has to do with the venue. Some places I’ve played over the last 15 years shouldn’t have live music because there’s too much else going on. 

How did you get involved in touring with Judy Collins? Where did the idea of creating a record together come from, and tell us about what the record will sound like?

I met Judy 3 years ago at a festival in New York. She and her management saw me play and asked me to open a show. It must have been a success and Judy has had me along for over 50 shows since. We’ve bonded over that time and began writing a year ago. After a couple of songs we thought, “hey why not make a record!”. Kinda surreal for me, the experience of working in the studio with the legendary Judy Collins, and as you’d expect it’s been a thrill. So looking forward to people hearing the album this summer.

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