It was some kind of unnamed universal magnetism, the thing that brought Dawaun Parker and Phil Beaudreau together. There’s just too much evidence to deny it. The pair met relatively recently, despite both being born and raised in Providence, Rhode Island. Their paths would overlap, having played in the same streets, later walking the same college halls in Boston, but it wasn’t until music pulled both to Los Angeles that their paths merged and AOE (Ambassadors of Earth) was born.
Homecoming, the group’s upcoming debut, takes shape as a sonic composite of the group’s diverse influences, an experiment in jazz, prog rock, hip-hop, and r&b. The project is an exploration of its members’ past and present, and the resulting work is their future. Dawaun Parker went straight from Berklee to Dr. Dre’s Aftermath Records where he worked for almost a decade, producing for Eminem, Busta Rhymes, Jay-Z, 50 Cent, and others. Parker is a rap-production wunderkind, but he’s not just a rap producer. After leaving Aftermath in 2014, Parker took his technical chops and applied all of the other influences he loves, from Quincy Jones to the Beach Boys, to try and create something new. It wasn’t until he found Phil that everything clicked.
Beaudreau spent his time at Berklee playing trumpet and studying jazz composition after having received encouragement from his idol, Wynton Marsalis. A career in jazz made way for a passion for production and writing, which cleared a path to Los Angeles. Phil started making his living composing for commercials and independent film, also performing and touring in a rock band as front-man, but it was at a party in LA where Parker first heard Beaudreau. The two had naturally gravitated towards the piano and started trading riffs. The connection had been made.
Parker and Beaudreau started to work together, perform together, and became known in LA and in online music circles as a dynamic duo. Initially they thought it would be a more traditional “beat-maker/ singer” collaboration, but creatively that mindset was quickly outgrown. AOE is genuinely eye to eye — two visions coming together at a specific place and time, and using the energy between them to create something entirely new. For Phil and Dawaun it’s a partnership that spontaneously generates art. Conversations in the studio birthed the concepts, Beaudreau says, and his “lyrics are always an approximation of the feeling [he] get[s] from the music.”
Homecoming as a whole is the artists’ reflection of their environment; it’s draped in a bittersweet sense of wanting to understand the terms of the outside world. Exploring these feelings, the duo realized that they had a responsibility to uphold as artists, and as humans. “AOE is our name, but it’s also something we aspire to be; Ambassadors of Earth,” Beaudreau says. “We have to continue to grow and change with our world if we want to represent it.” The experience of their collaboration is like an exploratory journey into space, and like all explorers, they bring whatever they discover back to the world with them. Homecoming is a collection of their first findings.
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