Interview with Arden Snow

These past few months we’ve had the pleasure of exchanging numerous emails with Arden Snow (Shaun), whose musical style stands out as refreshingly original and exceptionally unique. His most recent release is Intervention, described as telling a story full of ups and downs with a whirlwind of emotions. Aside from releasing his own music, Arden helps other musicians with his songwritingmixing and masteringmusic production services and music lessons too. His story is a most interesting one, and we hope you enjoy reading this interview with him!

Please tell us a little bit about yourself and where you reside? What  drew you towards writing music, and what were you up to before your first release “Succubus” hit Bandcamp in late 2022?

So a little bit about myself. I have never been good a speaking about myself however, the more positive reviews and conversations I have with people gives me more confidence to speaking about myself proudly, as opposed to feeling like a door to door salesman. I am originally from New Jersey, however, I have been living in Colorado Springs, CO since 2015. All of my family is still back east so I definitely took a leap of faith, so to speak, when coming out here, and I failed miserably at first. I have always been drawn to music as long as I can remember. I started playing guitar when I was ten, then I next picked up the bass guitar when I was 18-19. The first band I played in was a cover band for which I was brought in as their lead guitarist, which was such a cool experience! I was only 17 and playing bars throughout New Jersey, Delaware and Philadelphia. I would have to sit outside when we were not playing due to my age, but I didn’t care. I was just happy to be out playing.

Next, I started an original project with a friend I had met in college whose name is Michael Roberts. The band was called Disco Machine Gun. Mike played guitar and I played bass (which was my first time playing bass). All in all we wrote and released 2 EP’s and 2 albums which saw some decent success, but nothing major. The band ran its course and we all went our separate ways eventually. Michael went to Phoenix, I went to Colorado and the rest stayed scattered throughout NJ and PA.

I didn’t discover the instrument that I was “meant” to play until I moved to Colorado, which was the piano. Immediately upon playing it I realized that this was the instrument that was truly for me. It was during this period that I started to take my songwriting more seriously. I started looking for a vocalist because in my mind there was no way I was going to be singing, but after a year and a half of looking with no success, I finally said “fuck it” and decided to do the vocals myself. I had lyrics for 2 songs done at the time. They were “We Cannot Know” and “Migraine”. I figured I would submit them for reviews and let the people decide my fate. If the reviews were negative, I would go back to searching for a vocalist. If the reviews were positive, I would continue down the path of me singing. Needless to say, the reviews were great along with We Cannot Know being #1 & #2 on two of Broadjam’s Top Ten List. Their Top Ten Alternative and Top Ten Colorado.

If you ask people like my friends and family, they will tell you that everything came out of nowhere. I was a decent instrumentalist and then overnight (in their eyes) I had become a good songwriter. But trust me when I say it didn’t happen overnight. It happened from me spending all day everyday continually working on improving my craft. Even when I had become homeless for one summer, I had found a piano downtown which they would let me come up at night to play when they were closed, and I’d play on it until sun up. It also took me failing significantly in order to start to find the successes that I am starting to see. And while I had been playing in bands for most of my adult life, this was the first foray into which I was doing EVERYTHING. And never in a million years did I EVER think that I would be singing, let alone singing songs that people love to hear, so it has been an interesting journey so far and I can only say that I am excited what is ultimately about to become.

What a background! Thank you so much for sharing this. It is always interesting hearing what other people’s musical journeys have been like, and its refreshing to read your honesty about the hard times, and the good times of course too! For our tech-lovers out there, what equipment do you like to use, and what tools do you think might have really helped in working as a solo artist these days? I’m also curious how long it took you to record the album? Was it a stressful process with a personal deadline, or did it just organically happen over a period of time?

Also, I have to ask, how is life for you in Colorado Springs? What is the music community like there?

So, the tech I am using is a MacBook Pro (M1) with my 12.9 iPad Pro being used as a second screen. With me using Mac iOS, the DAW that I use is Logic Pro along with a few different addons under the plugin manager with the main additions being FabFilter ProQ3 (I have the whole set but this is the main one I use), Nectar 4, and Melodyne. I then use Lurssen Mastering Studio for my mastering. With me being pretty broke, paying a studio to do my mixing and mastering was not an option but compared to what I started out with (my iPad and a digital piano lol) I have definitely come a long way since then.

Now, the music equipment I use is a Yamaha Clavinova digital piano, Fender Strat, a RODE NTK mic, and a custom no-name 4 string bass that are all hooked up to my Headrush Looper Board with each instrument/mic being on their own channel, which then gets fed into a Tascam US-4×4 audio interface before ending up in my Mac. Also, to ensure optimal running speed, I keep all of my data, virtual instruments and plug-ins on an external hard-drive as storage can fill up very quickly!

The equipment setup as explained is strictly for recording purposes and for live playing, however, when I have a song that I am ready to mix, I unplug everything and mix with my studio headphones being plugged into the headphone jack rather than the audio interface, as the levels can be quite deceiving considering all of the different setups that are connected to one another. I’ve found that by removing my recording setup from the equation, it allows me to get my mixing done much more efficiently.

I also have 2 templates that I created for time conservation. One for recording and one for mixing. These templates are literally the bare bones of what I always need and use, however every song gets expanded on as no mix is ever 100% the same as another. But having the things and setup ready that I know I will use for each song, is an essential time saver.

To answer your second question on how long did Intervention take to record, is actually a little bit of both in terms of what you specified. I had a deadline that I wanted to keep myself to, but also gave myself room to allow the album to develop organically over time. Initially, Intervention was a completely different set of songs and was going to be a double album of 18-20 tracks, however, when I had about 16 songs finished I was really not happy with the quality of many of them, so I had to take a step back and really “reevaluate” what I was looking to achieve with this album, and the direction of the songs, and would those songs get me what I wanted to achieve, after which the reality was that those songs were NOT going to achieve what I wanted. So out of the 16 songs only 3 songs (Simple Man, Broken Bones, & Calypso) were kept and the rest were scrapped.

This was around the end of April when all of this happened. I then moved to Calhan, CO which is about 40 minutes east of Colorado Springs in the absolute middle of nowhere, which I thought I needed, to really get away from any outside distractions and I made a change which I felt was by far the most beneficial change for me in terms of my songwriting. That change was to NOT put myself on a schedule for songwriting, but to give my mind the freedom it needed to be able to absorb everything around me, and channel that into my writing. Meaning that while I did (and still do) play everyday, my focus was improving my craft as a musician or working on improving my mixing techniques. I saved my songwriting for when I would get the unexplainable feeling in my gut or head telling me “I need to play tonight”. It didn’t matter if I was in the middle of something or at an event an hour away, if I got that feeling then everything I was doing at that moment was dropped and I would head home, if I was not there already.

There were quite a few times where I am sure I pissed some people off because in their minds I was unexpectedly cancelling plans at the last minute, or leaving right in the middle of said plans without any real explanation other than “I need to go home and play” lol. So when this interview is finished I will have to make sure to send a few people copies of it! By doing this it allowed me to write what I definitely consider my best work thus far in my life, at a pace that seemed like a floodgate once it was opened, and from the end of May to October I ended up writing the other 10 songs to complete the album. I then ended up adding The Gypsy King to the album as a bonus song at the last minute. The reason for this was because I had wrritten the song as a tribute to my friend Matt Flowers, who was murdered in October and I did not find out about it until the beginning of November. After I wrote The Gypsy King I thought the song was too good to not be included, so I had to essentially pull my initial release and re-release it with the song included. I actually am going to be having to do something similar as the song Violet Dreams was never intended for me to sing. I had written the song with a female vocalist in mind (hence the line “Like a siren” lol I don’t know of any male sirens) but after the singer I had lined up didn’t work out, I ended up doing the vocals so I didn’t have to pull the release (which I ended up doing anyway lol) I did end up finding a singer with an incredible voice who ended up singing on the song which came out incredibly. Her name is Beatriz Kelly. The version with her vocals is how the song was supposed to be.

Lastly to answer your question about Colorado Springs, life is good. Like previously stated, I now live in Calhan, CO which is about 30-40 minutes east of Colorado Springs which is flat nothingness in the middle of nowhere with exceptional views of the mountains in the distance. Colorado Springs is not too far so I can venture into civilization when I like or keep to my peace in our secluded spot in the plains, which has really been great for my peace of mind along with my creativity. I initially moved to Colorado because I had loved the music scene when I had come out here for the first time about 15 years ago. After I moved out here in 2015 I was actually a little disappointed in the music scene as it didn’t quite fit with me. There are a lot a great musicians out here with bluegrass, folk and country being the go-to for many out here which was definitely not me. But I can still respect and appreciate good music when I hear it, and there are a lot of great musicians out here.

With Intervention completed and released, what are you currently working on musically? Is there more to come in 2024? I’m curious what you might be cooking up over there, and also what you might be changing when approaching new material? With the tracks that get cut from release, do you find yourself revisiting them later in time, and adapting them or altering things to suit future releases? Or are they, sadly, permanently hidden away and never to be heard? Sometimes it is fun listening back through abandoned ideas, but I’m always curious if other people do that too 😊

I am always working on new material. Although I do feel I have a big undertaking in trying to release something that is better than Intervention, as at this point in my career I can 100% say that Intervention is my masterpiece, so I will definitely be very selective as to what ends up being released in the future.

It’s funny that you should ask about tracks that were ultimately cut from the album, and if I revisit them. When writing Intervention it was originally a very different album. It was going to be a double album, but around June of 2023 I remember going over the songs and just not being happy with where the album was going. I had about 16 songs done and I ended up scrapping all but three songs (Calypso, Broken Bones, & Simple Man) and started again. Luckily, I went on a creative streak where I was able to complete 11 songs in a span of 4 months, giving me the album that I ended up releasing, which I could not be more happy about.

So the first order of business is for me to rerelease Intervention due to rerecording the song Violet Dreams with a female vocalist (the way it was meant to be originally). I am also in the process of remixing all of the songs to make for better production quality. And I have written about 6 or 7 new songs since releasing Intervention. They are only instrumentals at the moment.

Order physical copy of Intervention: Here
Arden Snow on Bandcamp
Arden Snow Official Website