Introducing: Ace Aura
Introducing: Ace AuraFebruary 21, 2022
In just a few years, Ace Aura has become one of the American bass scene’s most popular and innovative forces. Jordan Mafi learns his story so far.
Recognized in the bass scene as a leader in melodic dubstep and riddim, Ace Aura is living proof that being yourself is the key to creating memorable art. The 23-year-old Texas producer was previously featured on Beatportal for his instantly recognizable sound, one that’s inspired an entire movement for young producers around the world and has been picked up by labels like Never Say Die, Monstercat, Disciple, and more.
Born Eric Seall in Dallas, Texas, Ace Aura says music has always been an important part of his life. “My mom sings and my dad plays guitar, so there was always music playing growing up,” he shares. “My mom had a hip-hop and gospel background and my dad listened to rock and metal. That was all stuff that I absorbed as I was growing up.”
Eric absorbed the music like a sponge, and the urge to create his own struck him at a young age. “I had this little pencil box that held crayons and markers and stuff like that, and I picked up two paintbrushes and started doing a drum beat, just using the tile floor and the pencil box. My dad saw it and said, ‘We’ve got to get this guy a drum set.’ For my next birthday, I got a drum set.”
Eric carried his drum skills to the school marching band in middle school and high school, an experience that was integral to his sound. “I like to borrow instruments from the time that I spent in marching band,” he says. “I use the marimba in my music a lot — that’s an instrument I fell in love with when I was in high school.” While he spent his teenage years playing in marching band and teaching himself how to produce music, Eric was a bright-eyed kid who kept his career options open.
“My mom grew up in a poor environment, so she had to focus on doing well in school and getting a good job so she could get out of that situation and provide for her family in the future,” he shares. “That was her mindset toward me and my brother as well, so I studied a STEM career. I was in computer science and got my degree in December 2020 — but I never wanted to really do that as my job. I always wanted to do music as my job after I discovered dubstep.”
With the foundation of his music so deeply rooted in his childhood, it’s no wonder Ace Aura’s music is so reminiscent of his formative years. “When I discovered dubstep, I already had the lite version of Pro Tools as a Christmas present.” Eric decided to mess around with his DAW to see if he could make dubstep. “It didn’t work,” he says. “But after years of trying stuff out and seeing what worked, watching YouTube tutorials, and just practicing, I eventually got to where I am now.”
Ace Aura says he’s not quite sure how the idea of his signature sound came to be, but that it all started with Skrillex’s “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites.” “I heard that growl and I thought, What if that growl was also a chord? That’d be really cool,” he says. “It took really long to make that type of thing just because I didn’t have the skills. But ever since I stumbled across the sound that I had in my head for years, I’ve really been pushing more and more to discover and develop that.” In 2017, Eric had his first breakthrough for his inventive new style of dubstep when he was making a remix for a friend. “I was dragging vocal chops into an Ableton plugin called Granulator — it cuts the audio into tiny pieces and plays back those pieces — and I was just putting effects on it. I was really into messing with sound design and seeing if I could figure out new stuff. I put Ableton’s Resonator effect on it, then made it a chord. I had this percussive vocal chop going through the chord effect and I thought, ‘This is exactly what I want.’”
These days, Ace Aura owns a distinct sound that has yet to be truly emulated by another artist. “The way I try to work with my music is by combining heaviness with melody — but usually when a lot of artists do that, they’ll have melodic sections of music and heavy sections of music. I try to combine those elements into one thing: a very heavy melodic sound.”
Armed with his marching band chops and a trailblazing approach to dance music, Ace Aura knows exactly what he wants to create. “I try to express. I don’t know if this is me trying to invent depth where there isn’t any, but I’m trying to express all sides of myself in my music. Part of that is the light and dark nature of things being combined into one element.” It’s common for music writers and enthusiasts to try to describe Ace Aura’s style, but Eric excels in painting a picture through his own words. “I think there’s a lot in dubstep where it’s just super dark and heavy, but whenever we get to the lighter side of things, it’s usually just a lot of chord stacks. It’s not very intense to me — I want to create an intensity of light.”
One driving force of Ace Aura’s production style is his faith and relationship with God. While releases like 2017’s Exodus EP and 2018’s “Tongues of Fire” are direct references to the Bible, Ace Aura’s latest work demonstrates the difference between showing versus telling. “I take influences from my life and relationship with God and how that’s shifted over time and incorporate that in my music symbolically. My track “Coma” was symbolic of a moment where I felt a really big shift in my life. I felt more awake and I tried to express that through music. For a long time, the way I was raised led me to think and feel certain ways about myself and my ability as a person. I think realizing that and spending time in prayer really helped, so I wrote a song based on that.”
It all began to happen when he accomplished his first major career milestone: signing with United Talent Agency. Just before the COVID-19 pandemic, Ace Aura was set to embark on his first tour — and he narrowly missed it due to cancellation. As Eric continues to tell the story, his face lights up: “Days later, my manager gets an email from an agent with UTA. He goes, ‘Hey, I was on SoundCloud — I stumbled across Ace Aura and I really liked his stuff. Does he have a booking agent?’ Then they get on a call, discuss details and all that, and I end up signing with them.”
Ace Aura says this was the moment that pushed him to pursue music full time, something he worried about due to the ongoing pandemic and completing his computer science degree. “The timing of that was literally perfect,” he laughs. I ask how he got through that tough time between the tour cancellation and his signing.
“If it was meant to be, if it was God’s purpose for me to be touring as an artist, it would happen somehow,” he answers. “And even if the timing wasn’t exactly what I envisioned, I knew it would happen in the way God wanted it to. That was something I leaned on and that helped me get through it without collapsing.”
Jordan Mafi is a freelance writer and a Curator at Beatport. Find her on Twitter.