I once played in Bruce Willis' impromptu blues band. He plays a mean harmonica.
Other people that have trusted me to bring their music to life include Margo Price, Ron Pope, Nicole Atkins, JD McPherson, Elizabeth Cook, and Jose James.
Versatility. I am conservatory trained in orchestral and jazz performance, have lived/studied/played in Brazil, played on Grammy nominated records, arena shows, on the Grand Ole Opry, and had my set interrupted by a bar fight in a Brooklyn dive. All this boils down to a broad palette to draw from to realize your songs in the best way. From tight pop to swampy americana, vintage soul, modern rock to cinematic flexibility.
In addition to drum and percussion tracks I am available to produce tracks. I will work with you to find the sound and arrangement that will bring your song to life. As a longtime Brooklyn now Nashville session musician I have the fortune of being able to call on a large community of talented players, covering all instruments, who are world class interpreters of songs.
Drums | Percussion - cuban, brazilian, african, orchestral | Percussion Sample Packs | Song Production | String/Horn Arrangements | Mixing
Click the 'Contact' above to get in touch. Looking forward to hearing from you.
Reviews (5)Endorse Aaron Shafer-Haiss
Aaron is super professional and easy to work with. He's a versatile, creative drummer and takes direction extremely well. He's a really hard worker and plays the heck out of the drums! Hire him, you won't regret it.
Extremely skilled in different styles but always appropriate to the song. A real tasty drummer that comes to the project prepared and positive. He'll laugh at all your jokes.
Tasteful and intuitive, Aaron always plays with finesse and passion. My first call drummer, easy to work with and adaptable; hire this man!
Aaron is a musician's musician. From sessions, to live performances, to production, to percussion; Aaron is one of the most versatile and intuitive drummers around. He knows music like air and is just a great guy.
My first call drummer for sessions and live shows! Talented, easy to work with and quite adaptable. I guess that's why he's so busy all the time!
Interview with Aaron Shafer-Haiss
Q: Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
A: I recently made a record with a group called Rain + Left. We took a house that was off the grid in the California wilderness, turned it into a studio, and proceeded to track 20 songs direct to tape in 5 days. It was an incredibly creative process where everyone was reaching for left-of-center parts, the engineer was reaching for creative sounds and mic placements, and everyone was focused on creating a soundscape and performance that brought each song to its fullest life - outside of the "full day" clock ticking in a commercial studio, or a record label breathing genre-specific restraints on the songs. I played drums and percussion and everyone had a hand in production.
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A: I'm currently working on a scoring film with a composer in upstate NY, finishing the touring year with Nicole Atkins, and working on conquering my fear of writing my own lyrics.
Q: Is there anyone on SoundBetter you know and would recommend to your clients?
A: Jordan Pearlson is the first person to come to mind. A fellow Nashville by way of Brooklyn drummer Jordan is not only a great guy but an immensely talent and creative drummer.
Q: Analog or digital and why?
A: Digital, approached with the analog aesthetic. Meaning, record digitally because the work flow is quicker and the gear more reliable, but approach the takes as if recording analog and that the tape is wasting away and there are no chance for overdubs. Though this isn't the actual case, I find this approach keeps you supremely focused and present in each performance.
Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?
A: I promise to always give my best to bring their vision to life - whether that is simply interpreting demo drums or drum loops that I am sent, or working closely with them to carve out the unrealized part they hear in their head but can't vocalize.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: I like that it is so varied - both in the artists and songs that I get to play, as well as the locations and spaces/gear I get to use.
Q: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
A: One of the biggest misconceptions is that a drummer's roll is purely to keep time. Though that is one part of our job, we are also here to breathe life and energy into the song, outline the form eloquently, and drive the energetic and emotional shape/pacing of the song as a whole.
Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?
A: Two common questions besides the nuts and bolts questions regarding form and feel for each song include wanting to know their main influences, and they're hopes and goals for the song or project.
Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A: Hiring someone remotely over the internet can be a daunting task. You want to make sure that communication flows easily, that you trust they will bring your artistic vision to life quickly and accurately, and that they are responsive to any criticism or revisions that you may request and will take the time and care to make it right.
Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
A: I would bring a MacBook Air, and Apollo Twin interface, and AKG 414, a late 60's Gibson J45 and a pandeiro (Brazilian tambourine that you can basically play drum set grooves on).
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: Right out of conservatory I fell into a mix of performing in afrobeat and Brazilian bands throughout NYC and on the road, while also playing with a variety of songwriters both on stage and in the studio, and teaching music through Lincoln Center and Brooklyn Philharmonic outreach programs. After a decade in NYC I moved to Nashville where my career has focused on studio work around town, touring with various artists, and composing for film/television and other media from my home studio. I've been playing and recording professionally for around 17 years.
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: It is organic and human while being solid and propulsive, all while remaining supportive and appropriate to the song.
Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?
A: I would love to work with Jeff Lynne. His songwriting is masterful, his orchestration and production is unique and varied, and he seems like a great hang.
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: If the instrument or part is not crucial to achieving the feel/goal of the section then it is not necessary.
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: I like to say that I usually work with songs - bringing an artist's lyrical content and story to life. As a genre this most often falls into the americana/rock/pop categories.
Q: What's your strongest skill?
A: My versatility - in addition to being versed in a variety of styles and instruments, my experience as a composer and producer allows me to mix styles and grooves to find a unique part for each song.
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: I always try to bring the most appropriate balance of subtle support and intriguing parts/sounds to a song to bring it alive to it's truest character.
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: My drum tracking process starts by listen to, digesting and learning the song. After deciding on an appropriate groove and shape to the song I pick which drum sounds and percussion instruments will bring the song to life in the most intriguing way. I track all drum and percussion parts, and once all parts/revisions have been approved by the client then either deliver them as raw tracks or mix them as requested by the client. My drums are always miced so the process is streamlined to be as efficient as possible.
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: I most frequently record drums and/or percussion parts for clients, 1-3 songs at a time, though full album projects are not far behind. This usually entails conceiving of both parts, sounds, and instrument choices, as well as layering multiple instruments to form different rhythms and textures. Outside of tracking drums & percussion I fill my time composing and producing tracks for various types of media.
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: I have an isolated home studio in Nashville TN. Flexible drum positioning in the room allows for a variety of sounds, from dry and punchy to big and roomy. I have API, Neve and UA preamps, as well as a wide variety of plugins to shape the sounds. Other instruments include a variety of guitars, other stringed instruments, an upright piano and a lowery organ.
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: I've always been drawn to the do-it-all-yourself guys like Jeff Lynne, as well as the full time session crews that stuck together like the Wrecking Crew, The Swampers, and the Stax rhythm section.