Ari Hest takes inspiration from family, variety of talents

By Larissa Gula

Ari Hest

Thunderbird Café

Nov. 28, 8 p.m.



Press coverage has praised… Ari Hest

Thunderbird Café

Nov. 28, 8 p.m.



Press coverage has praised Ari Hest for setting himself apart in the musical field.

He has moved away from standard labels and created music that, according to the Washington Post, is a “melodic folk sound [that] bears hints of Bruce Springsteen.”

But even if Hest is aware of such praise, he might not accept such comments as praise at all.

“You can learn some things occasionally, but I don’t pay too much attention to critiques,” Hest said. “There’s no way I’m going to please everybody. If I get caught up in that, it’ll be dark situation. I rely on my own ear.”

The singer has recorded 11 albums and EP releases, all influenced by his upbringing.

He studied piano growing up, taught himself to play his mother’s guitar and listened to many of his favorite artists’ records, including The Beatles, Smashing Pumpkins and The Police.

“Music is in the family,” Hest said. “They never pushed music on me, but I knew I could sing from the time I was a little kid. I liked playing guitar. When I was in high school, it was a nice outlet. It became a bigger part of my life when I got to college. I started to write songs, and little by little, it became a bigger deal to me.”

Hest also played baseball throughout high school. But in college, he said, he knew he didn’t have the talent to continue professionally.

“I didn’t really like academics, but I wanted to get through school,” he said. “After a while, [guitar] seemed like a better idea. At that point, I was playing at fraternity parties in college and getting my feet wet. I didn’t fully grasp things when I started to play, but I had very supportive friends [and family].”

Music not only became his priority, but it showed itself as his gift. Hest doesn’t have much trouble with songwriting.

“I have a head for it, and I’m lucky,” he said.

From his meager college beginnings, Hest began releasing his recorded albums.

His songs were a composition of lyrics inspired by his life and music he often hummed and thought out to himself rather than wrote out on paper.

“I didn’t put too much thought into production on the first album,” Hest said. “It was more my getting used to things. I didn’t know what made an album … I tend to go from folk to rock to something else without hesitation. That’s the way I write. I don’t like to fit into one category.”

But the act of recording seems to be Hest’s major challenge.

“Recording feels pretty unnatural,” Hest said. “It’s hard to get to a natural place when you’re doing takes.”

Hest has also dealt with rocky times and felt insecure about his music career, he said. He might find an alternative to music, if he ever felt the need.

“I dabbled with teaching — not teaching music,” he said. “I kind of like numbers. I have taught math a couple of times for substitutes over the last two years just to see if it was something I would be interested in. I like it, but not at much as what I do now.”

For now, Hest said nothing is definite with him other than being happy where he is.

“I don’t have a plan for the future,” he said. “Last year, I did this one song a week thing. I wrote a new song and released it on my website … This year, I’m wanting the pressure off and going more with the flow. I’m trying to do more shows out of the country. But I love what I do. I don’t feel pressure to be famous. I’d love more people to know my music, but I’m happy with the way things are.

“The thing I like the best is coming up with the song I like and feeling good about creating something,” he said. “That’s what I’m trying to accomplish.”

Check out Hest’s Myspace page here.