Church had a big influence on music from a young age, my dad was a worship leader…I would listen to those albums in entirety…and really just break them apart (on early influences).

Aaron VanRavenhorst

Singer-Songwriter, Aaron VanRavenhorst Music

We sat down with Aaron VanRavenhorst, we talked about early influences, how he got into music, songwriting process, covid and creativity, and what’s next for this area musician.


Aaron Van Ravenhorst 01:17
I’m Aaron Van Ravenhorst. I’m 33 years old and getting into music. I think just like most people, I got fascinated sitting in front of a stereo as a young kid blazing away albums.

Brent Hanifl 01:31
Doing it as a kid, did you have someone who kind of turned you on to different things? Like what are some of your influences, early and now?

Aaron Van Ravenhorst 01:37
Well, definitely, church had a big influence with music from a young age. My dad was a worship leader. He’d even put out a couple albums on cassette tape. S,o I remember I was that young kid, you know, I’d sit in front of the stereo system and just listen to his albums in entirety. Then, when I was a little bit older, I remember like having a great fascination with Matchbox 20 or the Goo Goo Dolls, and just being able to listen to those albums over and over again, and just really break them apart, even at a young age.

Brent Hanifl 02:10
What is your process now in terms of like, songwriting? How does that work for you? Is it something that’s quick and easy? Or is it something that takes up some time?

Aaron Van Ravenhorst 02:22
Music being in the family, instruments kind of always being around, other siblings playing instruments, it was always really convenient to just pick up an instrument and dabble here and there. And the dabbling probably began when I was, you know, 12, 13 years old. But wasn’t till I was 16 or so that I really actually started playing. And I don’t know that I ever consciously made a decision to say, I’m gonna be a writer, or I’m gonna write music, or I’m gonna play the guitar, it just kind of something that developed naturally, from the time I was young. And just having ideas or emotions I needed to express and then melodies I just learned to play. And they slowly but surely, a majority of my material, developed that way.

Brent Hanifl 03:12
Similar to that, how does the recording process work. I kind of got turned on to you from, I saw recently you released Headspace on YouTube, a video of a song. Plus seeing you at Artspire recently. How does the recording process go? Maybe those things are related. But is it something that you jump in there and do it? Have you done a lot of recording?

Aaron Van Ravenhorst 03:33
A little bit. I, over the years, acquired everything I need to record myself professionally. I find the process of trying to record myself extremely difficult because I can’t isolate my creativity from trying to just capture what I’ve already created. So I love what I always kind of get when I’m working on a song, but it’s so far from what I initially sit down to record, kind of as like a beside or like scratch track of my vocals and guitar that I can’t reconcile the two. And so I kind of almost kind of put my hands up. As far as having been recorded by other people, I’m fortunate with an older brother that’s in the music, having a lot more gear and experienced recording, is able to capture me there, too. But I don’t know. I think sometimes you’re always you’re just your own worst critic, especially when it comes to something that’s real vulnerable. When it’s just like, you solo with the guitar. And you kind of just want to capture that golden moment that you can conveniently get anytime you’re sitting by yourself in your room. And you’re like, wow, if I’d record that and then you hit record and you just can’t do it. There’s something in my subconscious that always seems to block just kind of capturing. You know, I think the true essence of the song drives to a big part of my music which I like things are universal relatable. Despite musicians or songwriters seeming to be like, expected to perform, I like rejecting any amount of my own personal ego and performance as possible. Much easier said than done. And it’s something I as a practicing artist to an extent, I’m always vigilant of not getting my sense of self worth, identity, or ego mixed into the simple creation or expression. I simply write songs for myself to what I think and feel feels great, and I want to share it. And I don’t want to make it any more complicated or convoluted with that.

Brent Hanifl 05:45
I can totally understand this sort of analysis paralysis kind of component of trying to tweak every little bit. So speaking to that, you know, creativity doing it for yourself? Did COVID over this past year, I know you released, about three months ago you released that Headspace song, did COVID affect your process at all? Was it helpful? Or was it harmful, you know, like 99% of population kind of turned everything upside down?

Aaron Van Ravenhorst 06:09
Sure, you know, going into it, you know, I recognized from the onset that we’re gonna have a lot of downtime, And then also recognizes a great opportunity for creative people everywhere to really, you know, make up a voice of a generation or voice over time, and I had that pressure on my shoulders in a sense. And, you know, I don’t know. How do you put it, like, I don’t feel like I did well with that challenge. You know, as well as I could, and you know, there’s a time in a season for everything. And that’s not to say I didn’t pick up my guitar and play. But I didn’t make headway and with new material or new sense of expression. I think at that time I was, you know, sometimes a little bit delayed, maybe, you know, next year, I’ll have something that I can put out. You know, like, I take time to process things. And I’m not, I don’t feel bad at all, taking my time to get it right, if not at all. And then also to balance that with always be doing something because in a sense, you never feel ready to. But also trying to do my due diligence and saying like, you know, if I want to have a balance and not see myself solely as an artist, but also you know, as a person that’s handy and intellectual and a thinker. I don’t want to just center everything about myself straight around, you know, one aspect of myself.

Brent Hanifl 07:35
Well I mean, yeah, definitely it was a difficult time. I mean, I don’t think anyone had real expectations. Everyone was kind of in the way of like, what do we do? No one knew what was up.

Aaron Van Ravenhorst 07:45
For sure, for sure. And to your question about the music video, Headspace. That had been shot right at the beginning of the COVID season, and it just kind of took a little bit of extra time to get edited, and produced, and finally the final package ready to put out there. And that was all due to an amazing guy Paul Borgy who, through a friend of mine, came to be aware of me and my material, my songwriting. And he reached out to me and said hey I want to make a music video and I want to make it with you, what do you say? And it was pro bono just like that. We hit up a local nonprofit here in Caledonia, Mainspring, owned by Melissa Ray, to shoot it in the location there. One summer afternoon we did it all in one take and finally came out with that momentum. Great things have been happening, people have reached out to me, wound up a couple exclusive gigs. I have through my musical history, typically just filled in half an hour sets on breaks for you know, cover bands that are playing for hours. And here lately I’ve now, I’m getting my own, you know, our own half slot or solo shows, which is awesome. I’m just feeling blessed and also a lot of pressure being that people are interested in what I’m doing to say like hey, well I need to present something that’s worth their time.

Brent Hanifl 09:10
So, you kind of reference a few shows there, what’s next for you? What are you excited for in this next six months to a year?

Aaron Van Ravenhorst 09:16
Well, August 14th, which also happens to be my birthday, I’m solo act for small town outdoor concert series put on by Mainspring, where I shot my music video in Caledonia in the Methodist grassy knoll area there. So outdoor, and I’ll be accompanied by drummer Riley Batson. You can always find links on my Facebook page and then Ravenhorst Music or Mainspring’s Facebook page for tickets or at the door, of course. That’s kind of a thing where people are gonna take a Saturday afternoon to come see me, see me exclusively, even though it’s not a very long show hour and a half. That’s to me, you know, it puts a charge in my hands to say, all right, I’m going to give them a performance and I’m going to be prepared to make them wish it was longer and make them wish I had another show coming up soon. Should drive it to happen.

Amy Gabay 10:15
La Crosse Local Podcast is a production of River Travel Media. Do you have an interview idea you’d like to share with us? Message us on Facebook at La Crosse Local. Find out more about us at And you can subscribe to the La Crosse Local Podcast on your favorite podcast app. If you like us, rate us five stars. We appreciate it.

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