Aaron Paredes, who records under the name of A-Wall, hit the viral jackpot when his song “Loverboy” caught a trend on TikTok. But the 23-year-old wanted more than just a moment of glory. His new album, Autopilot, will take you along his journey of self-doubt, anxiety, and the driving passion to risk it all for a shot at making music. Originally from El Paso but now living in Arlington, A-Wall has welcomed change by not committing to genre. Instead, he’s inspired by the drive to evolve his style into many different directions. Paredes incorporates his singing and rapping while blending hip hop, electronic, and R&B, all while paying homage to his original bedroom pop beginnings. We’ve got the single “Dropout” on repeat when we want to get real with our inner demons.
Let let’s talk about music. How did you discover this passion? In middle school I wanted to be a DJ. My first influence was EDM and dance music. My first concert was a rave that my aunts took me to in El Paso. When I saw everyone dancing and the DJ up there, I fell in love with it. That is when I knew.
So it was EDM first, but you don’t really make that kind of music now, right? When I came to Arlington, nobody around me listened to that. It made me expand what I was listening to– rock, hip hop, rap. All of that came from living here.
How would you describe your music to someone who has never heard it? That’s tough, but I’d say alternative and anti-pop.
Where did the name A-Wall come from? Do you credit an online rap name generator? My last name is Paredes, and that translates to “walls” in Spanish. I added in the “A” because my first name is Aaron. But the real credit goes to my dad. He had a username somewhere called Mr. A-Wall and I was like “Yo, that’s a fire name.”
Props to your dad! Yeah, I took it from him.
If not music, what would you be doing? That is literally what this whole album is about. I dropped out of UTA and then community college and really there was no plan B. When I was in college I was failing miserably, not because I didn’t understand, but because my heart was just not there.
I have to ask, how did that conversation go with your parents? It was hard. I was hiding it, they knew I was into music, but not to this extent. It was also scary because I had so much pressure to succeed. That conversation didn’t happen until “Loverboy,” actually.
I have to bring up how you went viral on TikTok. The last I checked, “Loverboy” had 193 million plays on Spotify. What is it like having your song go viral like that? It was interesting, weird, and crazy. I started quickly trying to finalize the album I was working on. The first month of it wasn’t even attached to my name or face so I had to get people to realize that this was my song they were using for the trend.
Understandably, you were not ready for this at all. Absolutely not. I was scrambling to get my album done. But the song was taking off. Every day I would wake up with my phone blowing up.
I saw you perform live not too long ago; everyone was singing along during your performance. What is it like seeing people sing songs that you wrote back to you? That was an insane feeling. “Loverboy” going viral was very much an internet thing but seeing a crowd’s reaction in person, that is something different.
We’ve seen this growing movement with young Latinx indie artists in Dallas such as Luna Luna, Ariel + The Culture, CHROMA, and yourself. What is it like being a part of that? It’s an honor. To be representing my community means so much to me. It does feel like we are a part of something big that is starting here.
What is the evolution from your previous albums to the new album, Autopilot? In Verano and Helios I was really into the melodic and the singing parts of songs. With Primavera, which is when I was collaborating with CHROMA, they really made me step out of my comfort zone with some of the beats that I was hopping on. We stayed at an Airbnb for weeks to try and finish the Primavera album. That’s where a lot of growth happened and what you’ll be able to see with Autopilot.
Are there any influences that you drew inspiration from for this album? Tyler, the Creator, Frank Ocean, Mac Miller, Kanye West, and Kid Cudi.
“Dropout” is the lead single in your new album, where you openly wrote about anxiety and self-doubt. Why is it important for you to make music with these kinds of themes? People don’t really know anything about me at this point, other than TikTok. This is me talking about what life would be like if things didn’t work out and how I would feel like I had nothing left.
It sounds like this song could have been difficult to write. This album was hard to write.
How so? I wanted people to understand how it wasn’t just a fun and joyous ride. There was a lot of darkness in it too.
You feel comfortable sharing that with your audience through this album? Well, it’s a part of the story. And I want to also inspire people that may feel like they don’t know if they could commit to being an artist.
You’ve got a tour coming up too, with a lot of Texas dates for us to hear your story live. Yeah! I will be performing in Dallas on Halloween at Ruins.