Air-Ik is a certified alcohol and drug counselor, he battled alcohol and drug addiction for over 20 years and but due to his determination, now he has been clean for 11 years. He is a songwriter and produces his own songs. When asked in an interview with Mister Styx of Musicarenagh about his style of music, this is what he had to say about it
I’m never really fond of having to put a label on it or put it in a category but we’re in a world of many music genres and they keep coming and so to be in context with the rest of the world I sometimes have to say it’s Heavy Metal or that It’s Gothic/Dark Wave or Alternative and so on. I can write in a few diverse genres.
He admits he wasn’t an avid music lover but after his first concert which was Ozzy Osbourne on March 29th, 1984 at The Selland Arena in Fresno, California. It changed his life!. He later fell in love with music completely and with a little help from a friend he started playing the guitar.
In the interview Air-Ik spoke about his new song Call Me, he then delve further into his personal life and hiow things has been for him in the music industry. He also opened out on his regrets and gave a hint of what to expect from him next.
Get the full story below while enjoying Call Me
Follow Air-Ik on
What is your stage name
Is there a story behind your stage name?
“So my birth name is Erik. When I was in the band Willow Wisp at a time when we were young and starting out, we were trying to think of cool stage names. We thought of names like Blackie, Roxxy, Champagne and other goofy names like that. We were very ‘Glam’ then and those kinds of names were typical with Glam and Shock Rock bands.
But we wanted be different so my girlfriend at the time suggested we take our real names and spell them with words. So Tony, our drummer became Toe-Knee and I became Air-Ick but later dropped the ‘C’ because I didn’t want to be known as being icky, which is like saying yucky! …The other two members didn’t like that ‘word into name’ idea so they stuck with the cliché Glam names HA HA!”
Where do you find inspiration?
From all over the place. I always have my guitar near me and sometimes I’ll just be watching whatever show or movie on t.v. and a melody will pop in my head and it’ll be like a burning itch. But when it burns a little more that tells me I need to pick up that guitar and work something out. I battled alcohol and drug addiction for over 20 something years and now I’m coming up on 11 years sober.
I work as a certified alcohol and drug counselor. Sometimes listening to what my clients are going through, some of the things I went through and overcame, I get inspired. Especially when I see them progress and start to live happier lives. There is ALWAYS a song for that!
What was the role of music in the early years of your life?
So as a child I wasn’t totally into music. I was more interested in comic books and Star Wars and toys like action figures and stuff. In 1978 I discovered Kiss and then Journey and that really got me into enjoying music. It was when I was 16 and got to see my first concert, Ozzy Osbourne on the Bark At The Moon tour in 1984. Seeing the guitarist Jake E Lee for the first time I was blown away. The next day I begged my grandmother to buy me a guitar!
Are you from a musical or artistic family?
Kind of, mostly on my father’s side. But also growing up, my step dad raised me early on and he played guitar. Was really into Country and Western and he would sing these goofy songs to us from time to time that I actually enjoyed listening to. He tried to get me to play guitar but like I mentioned earlier, all I was into was toys and comic books. Later once I got to know my real father before he passed away I learned he was a cartoonist and a musician and had a band in high school called The Establishment. Always thought that was a cool name.
I also draw comic book style art which I guess my biological dad is where I got that from. I haven’t drawn in a few years though and I did self-publish a couple of comic books with some guys back in 2014. I feel like I’m most creative with music and I get the most satisfaction creating music. I kind of see it as no matter what I am expressing myself artistically but by music notes and not illustrations of sort
Who inspired you to be a part of the music industry?
In high school and before I even knew how to play an instrument, I met this kid named Tony, we were in the same grade and he thought I had a cool style with this long chain earring I used to wear. So he asked if I played guitar. I lied and said I did. I mean I did have a guitar after seeing that first concert. I just had no clue how to play it.
He was to be the singer but later became the drummer. But what really inspired us to keep at it and put on local concerts and eventually move to Hollywood was this local band that went to our school called Sweet Poison. These guys were bad ass!, and we’re talking 1984. Bands like Motley Crue, Ratt, Twisted Sister and W.A.S.P. was what we were all into and what was dominating MTV. Big hair, make up, outlandish outfits and killer stage shows.
So this band called Sweet Poison in our little small town of Atwater, California would put on these shows at a venue called The Winton Hall and they did everything those more falous bands like Motley Crue and Ratt did. Kick ass look and stage costumes and dry ice. I mean we all felt like we were watching one of the biggest bands in the world. So they set a high bar for nay band to perform in that town and it just made us strive to be Rock Stars!
How did you learn to sing/write/to play?
I’d like to say I am totally self-taught but I don’t think any of us are because we are always learning from others. However, I never took formal lessons. I did have a friend in school that I looked up to as a guitarist and he showed me the pentatonic scale and how to play a guitar solo using that scale in the proper key.
Once he taught me that I had my AH HA! moment and ran off to the races! I just went from there and just learned to play everything by ear and studied basic theory so that I have some clue as to what the heck I’m doing ha ha and just insert myself in places and around other musicians that I can get inspired by and learn from. I also think it’s important to get to know your instrument and the things you can do with it harmonically and melodically as much as possible and to do that you want to learn all the notes on the guitar or whatever instrument you’re playing and HEAR the colors of every note
What was the first concert that you ever went to and who did you see perform?
HA HA looks like I answered it earlier but to reiterate it was Ozzy O sbourne on March 29th, 1984 at The Selland Arena in Fresno, California. It changed my life!
How could you describe your music?
Good question. I’m never really fond of having to put a label on it or put it in a category but we’re in a world of many music genres and they keep coming and so to be in context with the rest of the world I sometimes have to say it’s Heavy Metal or that It’s Gothic/Dark Wave or Alternative and so on. I can write in a few diverse genres.
But my comfort zone will always be between Heavy Metal and Dark Wave, Goth style. And lately I’ve been coming up with what sounds like that ‘Singer/Songwriter style. When I got back into writing, producing and releasing music in 2020, I put out a single called Belladonna and it’s very Goth in the style of Bauhaus or The Cure. Then a few months later I put out a song called ‘Warmonger’ and it’s very Iron Maiden/Judas Priest like.
I also have a project called Deathcryptopia and it was meant to be a full Black Metal style project but my brain won’t let me stick to one genre so it’s turning out to be a mix between Goth/Dark Wave/Industrial/Black Metal and Alternative Rock.
Describe your creative process.
It varies but my main one is just picking up my guitar and start fooling around. Seems like every time I pick up my guitar a riff or melody idea comes out of nowhere. If it really hits me then I try to work it out. I’m not much of a lyricist so I try to work out the vocal melody with a bunch of gibberish. Then I reach out to a couple of lyrists I work with and ask “what do you got?” and see how I can work them into my melody without comprising their work…
However I will write my own lyrics if it’s something I really want to call my own. The problem is it can take me a month or more to finish the lyric that I have no idea where it’s going subject wise until it’s done. Which I think that is kind of neat too. Since most lyrics written are usually open for interpretation by the listener. I guess my main objective whether using lyrics to sing from or guitar or other instruments to supply the main melody is to have THAT melody that really carries the song.
What is your main inspiration?
It’s as simple as everyday life. I go to bed with the mindset that today I am sober and I plan to kiss tomorrow, hello or kiss yesterday goodbye. However you want to look at it, really. We’re not promised tomorrow but should you get it, then what you did the day before has already shaped your day so live it accordingly. Every day above ground is a day to do something that will allow you to keep moving forward and progress in life before we all meet our fate.
What musician do you admire most and why?
So when I’m asked about guitar heroes, I say Ritchie Blackmore (Deep Purple, Rainbow). I love everything about his playing. So raw and expressive and sloppy. I say sloppy in a good way. I love that raw, rough way of playing. The way he attacks the fretboard with fire. I try to achieve that in my own playing.
Every time I hear the guitar solo in Man On Silver Mountain it gives me chills yest it’s kind of a simple guitar solo. It’s how he plays it that makes it so emotional. I also admire a female singer from Denmark named Amalie Bruun who is also known as Myrkur. She is an amazing talent and a mutli-instrumentalist. But more important is she gets it when it comes to creating some of the most beautiful and at times dark melodies.
A true gift to the world of music. She set the bar high for me to want to achieve that level of creativity. She sets it even higher with each new song or album she releases. Hard to keep up HA HA!..Other bands and artists that are my influence are The Cure, Iron Maiden, The London Suede, Bathory and Sarah Brightman. So many more to mention that would take up the entire interview.
Did your style evolve since the beginning of your career?
Oh yeah most definitely. Yet at the same time I think my core style has remained. I left my original band that I started in 1984, Willow Wisp in 2007 due to my battle with addiction and I went further downhill from there. Though I always played my guitar and wrote riffs and melodies, I just never bothered to put together another band or put music out until 2020. I got sober in 2011 and then in 2020 when the pandemic hit I just found myself getting back into writing new stuff and I mean like full new songs that I found worthy of recording and that started my new venture into the world of music. I can tell you this.
Creating sober, I feel I’m writing the best stuff I’ve ever written. In Willow Wisp I wrote some good stuff but I was usually high or drunk too. It’s funny because when people who were fans of my former band hear my new stuff they’ll often say “That sounds very Willow Wisp” I chuckle thinking I guess that is my signature style and there is no escaping it.
Who do you see as your main competitor?
No one really. I mean, like any musician or someone who is wanting to move up in the music world, you see your friends or people you played the club circuit with get their shot and there is that little ounce of jealousy that arises. But that is a good feeling to have because it makes you work a little harder at what you do. Some people can let that defeat them. I don’t believe in being defeated in that way because I don’t have unrealistic expectations as to where I’m going in the industry.
Often people will ask me “Who’s a better guitarist, Eddie Van Halen or Randy Rhoads” I say they are both good. There are things Eddie can do that Randy can’t and vice versa. I ask them, who do you prefer to listen to the most? Eddie or Randy? It’s really about what moves people. To me, musicians who are completive in a way of who can play better, write better and so forth should quit music and go into sports. Music and art should not be seen as a sport.
What are your interests outside of music?
Since 2019 I got back into collecting and more importantly physical music. I mean we’re in a day and age where everyone just streams music and fell into that routine for a while there because it is convenient. But I also felt myself feeling less rewarded. I missed the days of having a record or CD or even cassette I can hold in my hands while the music is playing and just lose myself in the cover art, the liner notes, lyrics etc.
Even the smell of it HA HA! So in 2019, someone gave me a Kiss record from his collection but I didn’t have a record player, so I bought a cheap one on Amazon and from there I have been hooked. Now I have almost 800 pieces of music in the vinyl, CD and cassette format. New releases and old. What makes collecting them fun these days is when you buy vinyl from the band and it’s a new release or re-issue they include cool stuff like colored vinyl, posters, extra booklets etc.
I know it’s a gimmick and all but hey, it makes collecting music exciting again! But it’s also a great investment. Some albums I bought at regular price of $35 two years ago now go from $50 to $100 in the collector’s market. I also collect and read comic books and I have a nice collection of action figures. If you saw my room and my home you would think a teenager lived here. HA HA!
If it wasn’t a music career, what would you be doing?
Since I’m a certified alcohol and drug counselor already I would keep that as my career. Maybe look to open up my own treatment center. I try to include music and art into my therapy but I do have some limits as to how I and when I can implement that. But I find it to be really helpful to a lot of clients that struggle. So it would be really cool to have a treatment center that incorporates something like that on a more regular basis and at the same time playing by the ‘State rules and policy guidelines.
What is the biggest problem you have encountered in the journey of music?
Probably getting addicted to alcohol and drugs at a time when I could have taken advantage of more opportunities in the music industry. Moving to Hollywood in 91’ and then around 84’ is when I started drinking alone and using ‘speed’ that later evolved into ‘meth’. So, the cool thing was being able to play legendary clubs like The Whisky A Go Go and The Roxy and all up and down the Sunset Strip.
The bad thing was I was so into going to parties and getting wasted instead of doing proper networking to get management and a full team that can help me get to higher levels. Willow Wisp did get signed by independent labels twice. Our first signing was our most successful. Full Moon Productions with an advance of $10,000. Our first album as a signed act called Delusions of Grandeur (A Gathering of Heritics) did ok. Even though about 5000 CDs were sold around the world in 1999, today I see people selling them on Amazon for a few hundred dollars.
I say they’re making more money off that album than I ever did HA HA! We found it challenging to tour due to finances. We had fans in Germany, Australia, Japan and Canada but we had no money or management to help get us there. With that $10,000 advance from the label, we spent $3,000 on the recording and blew the rest. We asked the label when will they put us on tour and they asked “How much of that $10k do you have?” We said, “None” and they said “Then there is no tour” oops HA HA
If you could change one thing in the music industry, what would it be?
To make it MANDATORY that award shows like The Grammys honor Rock and Heavy Metal acts in the same way they do the Popstars. When a Rock or Metal act is up for and wins a Grammy no one sees it on T.V and if they show it televised it might be just a snippet. The mainstream media is so into processed manufactured music that is barely played live and often lip-synced whereas Rock and Metal acts work hard and craft their talent for years and if they are going to give them an award, they should do it properly and respectively.
What are they afraid of? That some kid into Pop or Hip Hop music might jump ship and become a Metal Head? That wouldn’t happen. If anything that kid would probably dig it and get a fresh dose of inspiration. I’m into Metal and I can still get inspired by certain Pop or Hip Hop/Rap artists when I see them. I think it can work both ways if the industry is willing to take a chance
Why did you choose this as the title of this project?
Well ‘Call Me’ is a cover of a classic song by the band Blondie that was released in 1980 so I didn’t have much of a choice in choosing the title. However, I did take upon myself to make the choice to cover it the way I did. Completely take the original and arrange it in way as if it could be a song I would write.
Brief Story Behind the Recording of the ‘Call Me’ Blondie Cover “I was inspired to cover this classic while watching the new t.v. series American Gigolo on Showtime. After hearing the original version as the theme song, I heard it differently in my head. Slow, dark, brooding, sexy, and a bit disturbing. Luckily I had I my guitar nearby and within an hour I had the arrangement worked out then I thought “Hey I need to record this!”
After I finish the episode of course! The mid-section with the ‘Ooo-oo-oo-oo-oo” and so on was difficult to sing in a way that fit my arrangement so I let my guitar handle that part. After my distributor label, Distrokid secured the licensing from Blondie’s camp I set it up for release.
What are your plans for the coming months?
So my other music project Deathcryptopia is due for a new single and so I’ve been working on completing that for hopefully a mid-November released. So far it’s looking like a song called ‘Sinister Mary’ will be that single. I have another song for Deathcryptopia in the can and ready to go but I don’t think it would fare well as a stand-alone single.
I’m working on a full album for this project and though it’s taking a bit longer than I wanted it’s taking just enough time for me to get it right. I work on this with my creative partner and friend Robert ‘The Garrgoyle” Garr who is the main story teller and lyricist. Deathcryptopia is a story based project in the fact that it can transcend into comic books and maybe even a Broadway play some day! Three demons are at a battle to win and rule this world called Deathcryptopia. Humans are caught in the middle and often become cannon fodder during this battle.
It’s not a Good vs Evil story. It’s an Evil vs Evil vs Evil story. Robert is an awesome writer. He and I worked on a comic book together back in 2014 so when I first had the itch to create something outside of my Air-Ik’ stuff he was my 1st choice to bring in. We released two singles in 2021 called ‘Death’ and ‘Furyous’ that can be found anywhere people stream their music. The hopes is if the budget permits, to release this album on CD and vinyl so that even if we barely sell any units I can at least add it to my record collection, HA HA!
Do you have any artistic collaboration plans
Other than the Deathcryptopia project, I am in the process of seeking out a female singer to work with. I am also contemplating on finding a female singer to sing ‘Call Me’ over my original arrangement. I have a feeling that would go over nicely.
What message would you like to give to your fans?
For one I would love to thank anyone who is a fan or has become a fan for all of their support. I want them to know that whatever I do musically, artistically, I do it from my heart and I would never release something just for the sake of views, likes or money. If you haven’t heard it from me it’s because I have it buried deep in a vault where it belongs. When I write music I have to like and love it myself.
I have to step outside myself and pretend as if I came across a song like ‘Warmonger’ or ‘Call Me’, would I buy it? Would I want to hear that more than once? Would I put that in my playlist? I have to ask these questions as if it’s not me the creator of the music asking but me as a fan. If I can feel that, then I know I have something worthy of putting out. If people dig it, that is the icing on the cake. If they don’t like it. That is ok too! Plenty of music and artists to go around and touch people’s hearts and souls.
Also to anyone out there that has a passion for something and you really want to pursue your dreams don’t let ANY ONE or ANYTHING stop you. There will always be people that will try and tear you down. Those are usually people that are already torn down in life. Full throttle ahead and always move forward and up!