“These words are the single best thing I have in helping to understand myself and be emotionally intelligent.”
Photo by Andy Lajara
little bear’s Aaron Kisslinger dove deeply into their consciousness to write their debut EP Needs. The five-track collection swims through pools of joy while celebrating the distinct way in which the creative process opens the artist’s understanding of self. Born mostly from nights sequestered in their work, Needs is an intensely personal and vulnerable portrayal of Kisslinger’s own self-examination.
“These words are the single best thing I have in helping to understand myself and be emotionally intelligent,” Kisslinger says. “It’s a vulnerable thing to be sharing this with other people, I’ve learned.”
Through writing this body of work, Kisslinger developed a sense of agency. Strengthening their own voice, they see their art as a platform for vocalizing the thoughts that are truly important and worth sharing with others. Kisslinger finds that in their lyrics, they’re often speaking as much to the listener as to themself.
“I want my work to be encouraging to others to create. And to use the process of creation for you to become a better human being.”
Photo by Andy Lajara
In the tracks on Needs, layers of instrumentation flood around Kisslinger’s vocals, that spill lyrics expressing delight in the beauty of existence and center the listener in a place of optimism and self-love. Their words are a gentle push toward accepting a broad spectrum of personal emotion, both for themself and the audience. In a world that can be very isolating and dark, Kisslinger hopes to bring love and positive energy forward.
“I’m a human being, as well as an artist,” says Kisslinger. “I live in 2018 in a world where I’m constantly surrounded by really harmful stuff. The best thing I can do is live my reality and reflect it in the art.”
As a platform for visibility and self-expression, Kisslinger found that producing and writing this album allowed them to deeply explore and find acceptance for their own queerness. The ability to express their queerness through their art is not something that Kisslinger takes for granted. They see the ability to share their voice with others as incredibly valuable and an uncommon opportunity. But Kisslinger hopes that creativity can become a more universal process, and that their work might encourage others to pursue their own craft. Ultimately, there’s no comparable feeling to creating something where there was nothing before.
“Me being up on the stage means that you can do this too, if you have something to say and put the work in,” Kisslinger says. “I want my work to be encouraging to others to create. And to use the process of creation for you to become a better human being.”
little bear performing at Trans-Pecos in July 2018.
Photos by Yohance Barton
Moving forward, Kisslinger hopes to be more collaborative in their future projects. Though most of the most of the writing and recording for Needs was done in isolation, Kisslinger found that bringing other artists onto the track “Home” opened a door to new planes of sound. With strings by xango/sauve, harp by Yomí and drum parts by the Burns Twins, “Home” walks a harmonic line parallel to Needs’ four other tracks, but is certainly following a path all of its’ own.
For now, Kisslinger is finishing school and learning how to be open and vulnerable as they continue to make and share art in this world.