Q. Where does the name “Son Little” come from?
A. I used to be called Little Son back in the day and I literally woke up one day not too long ago and thought, “Why don’t I just flip it backwards?”
You’ve written music in a lot of different genres. How has your sound developed sonically over the years?
Well, the guys I’ve been playing with recently have some experience using electronic samples in a live setting, which I’d never really done before. I’ve built these songs from a lot of different sounds.
From a performance stand point, I’d never [incorporated] samples with live music before. I was used to playing with just guitar, bass and drums. I was a little reluctant at first to even just play with a sample on a loop. But the guys kind of twisted my arms a little bit and once we started messing around with it, we found that we could represent the recordings pretty well, without sounding like we were doing the exact same thing over and over again. It feels really natural, even if there is a loop or a weird sound that is not represented on stage.
You have an album coming out this fall—are you working with specific groups or ideas in mind?
Well, it will basically be the same formula—throw a lot of ideas at the wall and see what sticks. I do hope to spend some more time collaborating with other artists. I’ve done things recently with Mavis Staples, which was pretty cool. She’s such a powerful singer.
What makes you decide to work with one person versus another?
Well I don’t know if it always works this way but in my case a lot of what I’ve done has come through mutual friends, acquaintances or people who I’ve worked with. Some people are introduced by the connector-types who can gauge someone’s temperament and kind of picture how two people might be able to work together well. But usually it seems to be friends and acquaintances. I feel very fortunate to have friends and people around who are interested in connecting people together.
What are some of the things you’ve learned from someone like Mavis Staples?
Well one thing that all the great artists I’ve worked with have in common is that they have a certain energy. There’s an endless source of energy for what they do. And it’s something that you can’t really help but absorb by being around them.
Son Little, also known as Aaron Livingston, first made a name for himself working with The Roots and RJD2. A bluesman for the hip-hop generation, Son Little’s highly anticipated upcoming debut album has received national attention. His work has been covered in publications including The New Yorker and NPR, which dubbed his single, “The River,” a “song we love” and a “favorite” on New York City’s WFUV. In live performance, Little incorporates elements of blues and psychedelia behind his timeless voice, racked with the conviction of the roadhouse and the church. Vibe magazine said of him, "Heartache never sounded this good.” This summer, in anticipation of his debut, he has appeared at The Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival as well as opening a series of dates for Mumford And Sons.
(Photo credit: The New Yorker)