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If Bible stories were categorized by the same hyper-specific algorithms as Netflix content, the genre I’d find myself perusing most would be “Psychedelia Featuring a Strong Animal Lead.” My very first Spark & Echo project last year explored one such story from Acts 10, where Peter’s mad zoologic hallucination spurs him on a crazy but ultimately fruitful quest.

Find the complete progression of the work linked below.

Daniel 4

Artist in Residence 2017: Aaron Beaumont - Part 1


Aaron Beaumont


Curated by: 

Spark & Echo Arts, Artist in Residence


Image by Giorgio Trovato

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March 20, 2017

If Bible stories were categorized by the same hyper-specific algorithms as Netflix content, the genre I’d find myself perusing most would be “Psychedelia Featuring a Strong Animal Lead.” My very first Spark & Echo project last year explored one such story from Acts 10, where Peter’s mad zoologic hallucination spurs him on a crazy but ultimately fruitful quest. Such stories exist in a liminal space, between the possible and impossible, blurring the line between natural and supernatural, historical and mythical, inspired and insane. Daniel 4 ticks all these boxes for me. In fact, it one-ups Acts 10 by featuring not only animals and visions, but also a lengthy bout of bonafide madness. It’s a rich, complicated passage, and as such, I’ve started clarifying my ideas with a lot of free writing. I’ve always been attracted to stories that challenge the binary nature and tidy knowability of reality; the polarities in Daniel 4 that have emerged so far as ripe for exploration include:

  • Animal-human. Specifically, exploring the relationship between the divine and humans via animals, and the conception of nature as wise, possessing a subconscious, cellular, instinctive wisdom acquired over the eons.

  • God-human. The blessing of not having to be gods. Nebuchadnezzar relieved of his duty to play God, perhaps a relief in the truest sense.

  • Reality-fantasy; genius-madness; exalted-debased. The conception of genius as madness plus success, that the tails of the bell curve wrap around and spill into each other like east to west, that the ends are more closely related to each other than they are to the middle. The history of people of questionable sanity exerting their will on reality, and bending it to conform with their conception of it.

  • Wilderness-civilization. Bliss and oblivion versus sapience and acuity. The tree of knowledge of good and evil.

  • Tyrant-benevolent ruler. Daniel 4 presents challenging notions of hubris, tyranny, and authoritarianism. Dismissing Nebuchadnezzar as wholly a tyrant ignores his role as provider and protector (the tree in his vision) and the high esteem in which Daniel, one of the Bible’s great heroes, holds him.

The next phase of my project is arguably the most important: selection. Over the next few months, I plan to evaluate material from my freewrites, scrap the bad ideas, and distill any worthy ones (and hopefully there are a few!) into a lyric.

I’ve also compiled a playlist (from which a small selection appears below) to serve as a reference for song structure, palette, or tone. Daniel 4 offers a potpourri of moods, including the epic, regal, supernatural, primal, psychedelic, tender, and mad. As such, my playlist features a colorful range of genres and eras - I’m excited by the challenge of discovering a sonic space in the middle of this disparate cloud of references, and hope to capture some of the complex flavor of Daniel 4 in my final work.

Spark & Echo AIR Playlist - Aaron Beaumont

(Click to Open in Apple Music)

David Axelrod - The Mental Traveller

Scott Walker - The Seventh Seal

Scott Walker - It’s Raining Today

Sufjan Stevens - Impossible Soul

The Innocence Mission - Beautiful Change

Odesza - Kusanagi

Flying Lotus - Zodiac S**t

Flying Lotus - Do the Astral Plane

M83 - Soon, My Love

The Album Leaf - Window

Lana Del Rey - Ride

Amon Tobin - Kitty Cat

Clams Casino ft. Kelela - A Breath Away

Arcade Fire ft. Mavis Staples - I Give You Power

Nino Roto - The Great Mouna

Nino Roto - L’uccello Magico

Grimes - Laughing and Not Being Normal

I’m eager to share whatever emerges during the next few months as I grapple with this challenging text. While I’m not sure where my exploration will lead, one thing is certain - with such a rich subject in front of me, it will be a long time before I move on to RomComs of the Bible.

Spark Notes

The Artist's Reflection

Aaron Beaumont has toured the U.S. and Europe as a pianist and songwriter and been invited to share his work in wide-ranging venues from the Sziget Festival in Budapest to KCRW Santa Monica to the Tribeca Film Festival to off-Broadway Theatre 80 in the East Village to the main stage of the West Hollywood Carnaval. L.A. Weekly wrote that Aaron's music brings "a new life to the ancient music-hall/pop piano-man tradition, with clear-headed songs of genuinely witty lyrical oomph and, most of all, a historically informed musical depth – all delivered with style, grace, wit and elan, of course."

Aaron wrote one song, arranged two others, and served as a piano performance coach for the feature Permission (Rebecca Hall, Dan Stevens, Jason Sudeikis, 2017 Tribeca Film Festival), which premieres worldwide February 2018. He also contributed two songs to the forthcoming series Dan is Dead (Drake Bell, Maker Studios) and two songs to the indie feature film Alex & Jaime (2017 Roxbury International Film Festival). Aaron contributed an original co-write (“17”) and several arrangements to Gil McKinney’s 2017 debut album, How Was I to Know, which reached #1 on the iTunes jazz chart and #8 on the Billboard jazz chart. He also co-wrote “Good Love” for Briana Buckmaster’s 2018 debut album (#1 iTunes blues, #3 Billboard blues). Other recent TV and film placements include original songs written for Cedar Cove (Andie McDowell) and Where Hope Grows (Billy Zabka, Danica McKellar; Dallas Film Festival, Roadside Attractions). Aaron has composed original scores for films and theatrical productions, including All the Lovely Wayside Things; Tall, Dark, and Handsome; Heart; Until We Have Faces; Shrew; The Fire Room; the Breakfast Show with Adam O; Companion; and Beyond Imagination, winning best score and sound design at the Hollywood Fringe Festival for his work on Fugitive Kind’s production of The Fire Room by Ovation Award-winning playwright Meghan Brown. In 2016, Aaron wrote a commissioned work for the Spark & Echo Arts project, and in 2017 Aaron created a larger scale work as an Artist in Residence. Aaron also works as an in-house arranger, producer, composer, and mix engineer for the Gregory Brothers / Schmoyoho, whose original music has earned them a gold and platinum record and nearly one billion views on YouTube, along with myriad collaborations on other platforms. Recent Gregory Brothers collabs include the Justice League film (ft. Gary Clark Jr.), Weird Al Yankovic, Debbie Harry and Chris Stein of Blondie, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bassnectar, Alex Wassabi, LaurDIY, Markiplier, Slow Mo Guys, Todrick Hall, J. Fla, The Resident (Fox Network), and the International Olympic Channel. Songs Aaron has worked on with the Gregory Brothers have received over 175 million plays on YouTube.

In 2015, Aaron participated in the Ultraviolet Music and Arts Festival in Los Angeles as a featured artist and presenter, and performed with his band The Mots Nouveaux for the 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018 Rockwood Music Festival in Frankfurt, Germany.

Aaron wrote the music and lyrics to the original musical, Behind Closed Doors, which sold out every performance at the historic Hayworth Theater, received multiple Broadway World L.A. Award nominations, and played for thousands of festival goers on the main stage of the West Hollywood Carnaval. Behind Closed Doors was selected to participate in the New York International Fringe Festival as a national show, enjoying a mostly oversold run at off-Broadway Theatre 80 in the East Village. Aaron was selected as a finalist as a composer and lyricist for the Fred Ebb Foundation / Roundabout Theatre Company Fred Ebb Award for musical theater songwriters, and received the Hal Gaba Scholarship for Excellence in Lyrics from UCLA/Concord Records.

Aaron is currently developing new musicals with playwrights Meghan Brown, Andrew Crabtree, Peter Berube, and Cassandra Christensen, and a one-woman show with soprano Lorelei Zarifian. Lorelei and Aaron’s first musical triptych, Midtown Antoinette, was featured on NPR-affiliate WFIT in March 2016 and debuted as part of the Florida Tech / Foosaner Museum French Film Festival. Aaron also occasionally helps produce the outrageous bingo raves phenomenon, Rebel Bingo, in New York and Los Angeles, as featured in the L.A. Times, Guardian, and BBC, and recently played a run of five capacity shows in the downtown L.A.’s Globe Theatre as part of 2016 Night on Broadway.

Aaron has collaborated as pianist, musical director, and/or co-writer with a panoply of music buddies, including Jason Manns, Gil McKinney, Sara Niemietz, Tim Omundsen, Dave Yaden, Nicholas Zork, Aaron Roche, Nick Bearden, Emma Fitzpatrick, Amanda Wallace, Shane Alexander, Ben Jaffe, Brett Young, Courtney Bassett, Eden Malyn, Luis Selgas, Aly French, Sam Heldt, Karma Jenkins, Emily Iaquinta, Lynette Williams, Meshach Jackson, Roy Mitchell-Cardenas, Kamasi Washington, Chad Doreck, J.T. Spangler, and Katrina Parker. He claimed several distinctions as a young classical pianist, including two-time Wisconsin Academy Musician of the Year, Andrews University Concerto Competition Finalist, and the British Royal Conservatory of Music Award of Highest Distinction for Piano Performance at the Newbold Creative Arts Festival. He currently serves as co-chair of the Carnegie Hill Concert Series in New York, featuring leading interpreters of classical and New Music from around the globe.

In 2015, Aaron founded SongLab, an online songwriting community for emerging songwriters. The inaugural SongLab Series welcomed GRAMMY-winner Dave Yaden as special guest.

In addition to working with other artists, Aaron performs as one-third of the pop trio, The Mots Nouveaux, alongside vocalists Emma Fitzpatrick and Amanda Wallace. The band celebrated their latest album release with a residency at Hotel Café, a six-month residency at the Montage Hotel in Beverly Hills, and residencies at Rockwood Music Hall and Sidewalk Café in New York. They were invited to join the lineup for the Broke L.A. Music Festival in downtown Los Angeles, where Lyynks music hailed their set as the “greatest revelation” of the festival, one that “really thrilled the crowd” of thousands at the Lounge Stage ( The Mots Nouveaux recorded a new EP in Spring 2017 with co-producer Peter Barbee / Among Savages, with forthcoming tracks slated for 2018 release.

Aaron released his debut solo project, Nothing's Forever (Not Even Goodbye), featuring the first ten songs he wrote, on Milan Records (Warner-Ryko) in 2008.

In his spare time, Aaron enjoys playing the piano, traveling, eating, writing songs, making coffee, drinking coffee, collecting records, going for brisk walks, being near coffee, and composing extensive autobiographical sketches in the third person.

Aaron Beaumont

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