Get a virtual assistant when it makes sense to do so. We hired one for an affordable hourly rate, and then we were able to bring her on in a more full time capacity, and her involvement has been such a life saver for us. We outsource the administrative tasks that pull us away from our creative process. For us, new music has been the biggest needle mover, so paying someone else to keep things running while we’re in the studio makes a lot of sense.
As a part of our series about Nashville’s rising stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Ariel Bloomer.
Since forming in 2007, Icon For Hire (composed of singer Ariel Bloomer and guitarist Shawn Jump) have quietly amassed a legion of followers. With 10s of millions of streams and over 600,000 followers across social platforms, Icon For Hire are the sleeping giants of the modern rock scene, and are now ready to step into the forefront with new album Amorphous.
For fans of Twenty One Pilots & PVRIS, Icon For Hire’s sound is one that effortlessly blends heavy riffs, elements of electronic production and soaring vocal lines into a powerful & bold sonic explosion. But at the heart of Icon For Hire’s music is a message of positivity, self-love and personal empowerment from the painfully relatable and rousing lyrics of Ariel.
New single “Waste My Hate” follows on from “Last One Standing,” that premiered via Rock Sound earlier this year, and is the final taste of music before the band’s upcoming album Amorphous is released on Feb 19th. “Waste My Hate” is more a continuation of Icon For Hire’s now signature sound, heavy riffs and empowering lyrics written to not only inspire the listener, but challenge the status quo of the rock genre.
“’Waste My Hate’ was born from a feeling of unrest- it’s a reminder to stand your ground, fight for what you believe in, and not get sucked into the bullshit along the way,” says Ariel. “Musically, Shawn had fun creating the catchy blues guitar lick for the base of the track, which we coupled with a punchy guitar solo as well as a sing along chorus. It’s a fun, defiant fight song that we hope helps ward off some of the negativity that the world has been feeling as of late!”
For Amorphous the band worked with Grammy Nominated engineer Romesh Dodangoda (known for his previous work producing the last Bring Me The Horizon album as well as acts such as Don Broco, Busted, and Kids in Glass Houses).
The album has been completely funded by fans through Kickstarter on a campaign that raised over 200,000 dollars— making it one of the year’s highest-raising music campaigns. This success was achieved thanks to the bands highly dedicated fanbase that support them on Patreon and have been there for the band though thick, thin, litigation, addiction and more.
Having overcome both personal and professional adversity, Icon For Hire are living proof that you can take control of your life — and that’s perhaps the greatest success anyone can hope to accomplish.
Thank you so much for joining us in this series! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us a bit of the ‘backstory’ of how you grew up?
I was born in Lund, Sweden and lived there the first few years of my life, though I did much of my growing up in the states. I’ve always wanted to be a musician-more specifically in a rock band.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
Writing and performing was the only thing I ever wanted to do. As a kid my sister and I would stand and sing in the windowsill hoping to “get discovered”…sadly, it never worked! But doing this was always my focus. I was that obnoxious kid in math class telling the teacher I didn’t need to know what they were teaching because I was gonna grow up and be a rockstar….
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
One especially crazy moment that sticks out is crashing our tour bus underneath a New York City bridge on the way to a show. The whole ceiling just peeled right off. It was a wild way to wake up-peeking our heads out our bunks to see food and papers strewn all over the floor and the blue sky above us.
Can you share with us an interesting story about living in Nashville?
I like how laid back everyone is about the music and entertainment industry, how it’s not such a big deal. Running into Lzzy Hale from Halestorm at our local taco place was a recent highlight. Another was seeing Tom Hanks at Barista Parlor and everyone being really cool and acting like…Tom Hanks isn’t currently hanging at our local coffee shop.
Can you share with us a few of the best parts of living in Nashville? We’d love to hear some specific examples or stories about that.
Living in Nashville means I get to be surrounded by music and artists, which I love. I’m most often surprised by how easy it is to eventually run into someone you’ve been wanting to meet. You’ll hear about someone for months and then they’ll find you at an event and tell you, “Everyone’s been saying we should meet!” And I find that eventually those connections always transpire.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
If my other band members had a song they loved but I hadn’t finished writing the lyrics yet, that didn’t stop us form playing it out. We played lots of basement shows and in-the-grass festival slots, and usually the sound system was so bad that you couldn’t hear my voice through our drummer’s aggressive playing anyway. So I’d often just make up sounds instead of singing real words! I would never try that now though!
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
We met a guy named Gary Lancaster backstage on one of our European tours. When he introduced himself to us, he said “I’m Gary, and I am the most important person in the music industry.” We rolled our eyes and were like, “Ok whatever man.” Well it turns out, he’s been an amazing partner for us! We ended up signing with his distribution company, partnering with him on the new music release, and he’s become one of our favorite members of the industry, if not the most important!
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
We are working on putting together our first full live band virtual concert. We’ve done a lot of acoustic live-streaming but putting on a full fledge production on for a stream, totally live, is a huge project for us to tackle. We hope it goes off well and we can do more.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- Make friends with all the other bands. We spent most of our years on Warped tour signing and taking photos with our fans. It would have been wise for you to split our time chatting with the fans, as well as getting to know all our fellow touring buddies. We were so fan focused, which is great, but that also meant we didn’t get to know potential friends and collaborators in our scene.
- What gets measured gets managed. Whenever I see an area of our business that I want to grow, I know that just spending an hour digging into the numbers, the backend, will help me naturally come up with all sorts of ideas for growing it. And it helps to make a spreadsheet and just record the data. Record how much merch you sell each night, or how many views each video gets, and you’ll probably naturally and easily come up with ways to grow those numbers, simply by tracking them.
- Follow the 80/20 rule. Supposedly, 80% of people’s result comes from 20% of their effort, and vice versa. It’s so helpful to look back and see where we’re getting the most effective results from which efforts. This applies to financial investments, time, energy, focus, everything.
- Get a virtual assistant when it makes sense to do so. We hired one for an affordable hourly rate, and then we were able to bring her on in a more full time capacity, and her involvement has been such a life saver for us. We outsource the administrative tasks that pull us away from our creative process. For us, new music has been the biggest needle mover, so paying someone else to keep things running while we’re in the studio makes a lot of sense.
- Keep improving your skills, especially the ones that truly matter. For us, that’s songwriting, fan connection, performing. Even though we’ve been at this for a long time, we try to keep learning, practicing, getting feedback, to get better. We want to be doing this for many more years to come.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
This isn’t something I’ve figured out all the way yet so I may not give the best advice. Being organized is one practical that helps. Making a system, and documenting every little thing that has to happen to launch a new single, for example. We do the same things every time-send out a bandsintown post, do livestreams with our fans, update Spotify’s artist pick, do Pandora Amp blurbs. So now we have a Trello checklist where we go through all of those items every single time, and refine it based on what has the most impact. It’s way better than going off memory and flying by the seat of our pants on a chaotic release day!
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I would encourage anyone to listen to and honor the part of yourself that is struggling. Usually, 90% of me feels like a badass, but there’s this smaller part, what people often call the “inner child”, that doesn’t feel like she is being seen or has a voice. So I give that part of me airtime by asking myself “What are you struggling with right now, how are you feeling, what do you need?” That helps comfort the neglected part, and helps keep me mentally sane so I don’t periodically break down in tears during an especially stressful moment.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
At the moment its “Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.” I like that idea of not suffering over the pain of being human. Hard stuff is going to happen, but can we be resilient and learn from it, rather than letting it take us down? When something falls apart, can I process that and move forward instead of needing to binge Netflix the rest of the day and drink wine?
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
I’ve always been one of the many people enamored with Angelina Jolie. I find her very intriguing I would love to spend some time with her and know what she is like.
In the music space, I would love to have coffee with Mike Shinoda or the aforementioned Lzzy Hale.
How can our readers follow you online?
We particularly enjoy Instagram, and our handle there is @iconforhire. We also have lots of cool things happening over on Patreon: www.patreon.com/iconforhire
This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!