The Music Industry vs The Food Industry (feat. Aaron Day)

Aaron and I first became friends during our mutual love of music back in our high school years. My respect for his work ethic and skill set has only grown as the years have passed, with Aaron continually displaying his ability to learn and translate new skills efficiently. Whether he was playing bass guitar, guitar, percussion, dj’ing or making music, he was always competent, creative and inspiring.

This interview focuses on Aaron’s transition from the music industry to the food industry (something I know very little of). If you’re a musician who loves food or is curious about the food industry, this interview is for you.

Do you recall what sparked your interest in food and nutrition?

I’ve always had at least some knowledge about nutrition ever since I was younger. My mum is a naturopath who taught me everything I know about food and nutrition, specifically micronutrients (magnesium, zinc, etc.). 

The funny thing was, during primary school, I would diagnose friends with mineral deficiencies. Those same friends would go home and tell their parents, and Mum would get a call with something along the lines of “Your son said my son has a zinc deficiency…”. Her response would usually be “Well, it sounds like he’s right”.

As I grew older, I knew that certain foods could help or hinder how I felt. It was during my time as a poor music student where I realised the impact that diet and nutrition could have. When you only have $50 to spend on food per week, you begin to maximise nutritional density and rely less on fillers. Rice bubbles only gets you so far. 

Do you still make and/or play music between all the cooking, food prep Etc?

Most of the time, I actually play music while cooking. This helps create a division from “I’m at home” to “I’m working on a cookbook”. I find having a routine that says “work starts now” always helps the working from home slump. 

Recently I’ve been writing cookbooks, so those cookbooks tend to have a theme of music that I tend to gravitate towards. The latest cookbook has been heavily influenced by Rage Against The Machine. Hopefully, the desserts don’t come out too rebellious.

Have you found any of the skills you acquired as a musician directly translating to the health and food industry?

This was something that thankfully I learned was a skill early on. Finding a through path throughout your career choices is key to creating a diverse array of experience, plus allows you the freedom to pursue avenues previously unexplored.

From studying music, through to writing lines of code as a software developer, to writing recipes as an author, I’ve found that creatively solving problems is something I enjoy. Finding the aspect that you enjoy from what you’re currently doing helps create a light at the end of the tunnel in the inevitable dark tunnel.

Be the best you can be at what you’re currently doing. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or fail fast, just don’t make the same mistake twice without learning from your mistakes.

I’ve found it common for artists to attach their identity to their work. Did you find transitioning from the music industry a challenge to your “self-image”?

Definitely, but that’s in our human nature. To make the chaos of life seem bearable, us humans tend to want to categorise everything. Everything from styles of music to specific cuisines, to the clothes we wear, we love to fit in a category or place ourselves within one.

The beauty of moving industries is that you create our own identity, one of which is a combination of your experiences and prior industries which creates your own individual way of operating within the world. 

With the birth of every new genre of music is an amalgamation of prior styles to create something old, done in a new way. With every new skill we add to our repertoire, the more options we have to combine those skills to become an individual.  

What are the biggest differences from being a professional musician to being a published author in the health and food industries?

I think their similarities are probably more interesting. You still need the skill to put creative limitations on ideas, you still need to perform in front of an audience, and you still need to work on projects in the dark for years before they ever see the light of day, with the exact same amount of anticipation. The only difference is the final product.

Whether that’s an album or a recipe book, the ideas are the same, the medium is just slightly different. 

Is there anything about the music industry that you miss or wish was complementary to your new line of work?

I wish more chefs and cooks would “jam” or collaborate. There seems to be a tendency to create recipes and share them as your own individually. Obviously, restaurants are a little different, but authors, in particular, seem to be quite guarded when it comes to their work.

I always believe that sharing your best ideas, secrets and processes doesn’t make you replaceable. It only creates a new level of “better” for everyone involved and often allows the community to grow as a whole, rather than just the sum of its parts.

It’s common practice for musicians to use food-related terms (spicy, tasty, etc.). Does this make any more or less sense to you now that you have experience in both worlds?

I often think that musicians are much better at creating cross origins through sensory feelings. Saying a particular sound is “crispy” only comes from experience, whereas the distinct taste, texture and smell of specific foods often can’t be altered too much.

The one thing that the food industry is good at is recreating excitement and anticipation through all sensory experiences. Chef Heston Blumenthal is a classic example of someone who is a pioneer of multisensory cooking, food pairing and flavour encapsulation

Has your view on the music industry changed now that you can have a more objective view?

Through my time as a musician, I think I often had a belief that what I thought was good was all that mattered. Write good music, and the money will come. Writing for other people can often be portrayed as “selling out”.

What I didn’t understand back then was finding a balance between the two is critical. If you can write music that you enjoy, and others can too, then you’re on to a winning streak.

If you could go back, would you do things differently now that you’re no longer a touring musician (eg: not studying music, or not doing music entirely)?

I wouldn’t change a thing.

Do you have any desires to perform and or make music in the future?

I’ve always loved playing music, and a big part of running an online business requires putting music to video to set a scene. I often don’t have the time to create the music that I want, only the music that is required, so taking time out to write that type of music would be purely self-satisfying. 

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