After graduating from Stevens' music and technology program in 2019, Aidan Mutschler went on to release 97 CLASSIC, a genre-bending, full-length album that he developed during his time in the College of Arts and Letters. Released under the stage name Ayem, this project was made with the idea of combing composition styles from genres like jazz and RnB with modern production techniques heard in today's pop and hip hop music
Read our Q&A with Mutschler below to learn what inspired the work and how his time in the College's music and technology program built a technical and cooperative skillset needed for the professional world.
97 CLASSIC is an impressive debut album. What do you hope or expect listeners will feel when taking in this music?
I hope that listeners are able to learn about my story and feel a personal connection to me while also finding things within the music that they can connect within their own life story. I've learned that finding the balance between "tedious" personal anecdote and universally experienced emotion is a very difficult task. With this album, I tried to find that balance.
What inspired this work?
Mostly albums that have combined these genres well. To Pimp a Butterfly by Kendrick Lamar is, in my opinion, the greatest album of this generation. Its seamless combination of two genres made it nostalgic and "classic" sounding while simultaneously being modern and groundbreaking.
What tools or technology did you use during the creative process?
My [digital audio workstation] of choice is Ableton Live Suite, so most of the production was done through that software. I did some of my recordings in ProTools through the SSL Matrix board in [the College's music studio]. I used a variety of SoundToys and Waves software plugins for processing. For hardware processing, I used the Chameleon Labs compressor and a focusrite preamp. Vocal recordings were done with an AK214 and a Sterling Audio ST51 (mics that I have in my apartment). I recorded instruments using a variety of mics that are in the [Stevens'] studio.
What are the skills you learned at Stevens that you believe will be most useful for your career?
I learned a lot about balancing independent work with collaboration. I am better able to voice my opinion in a group setting and, despite potential changes, still create something that I and the rest of the team are happy with. It is still important to me to maintain my vision and be confident in my ideas, but I obviously can't step all over collaborators. I now have the skills needed to achieve this balance.
As you head into the beginning of your career, what are your goals?
My goal after graduation is to find work in the surrounding areas of NYC or other major music hubs such as Nashville, LA, or Houston. In terms of career paths, I am interested in pursuing sound design for movies or television. I also intend to continue pursuing music production and performance.