Tech-House Sensation AYYBO Takes the Music World by Storm
Picture a jet-black dance floor glistening in technicolor red; this is the kind of immersive experience that tech-house sensation AYYBO curates with his sound. Aaron Bonnema, the up-and-coming producer behind the AYYBO project, is coined for crafting blissfully dark bangers and raising the bar with a repertoire of creative talents.
Staying true to his film student roots and using that knowledge to his advantage, Bonnema supplements his music releases with satirical video clips that emphasize the pandemonium of his unique presence both online and onstage. From his mesmerizing beats to his unique eye for cinematography, the producer connects with the crowd by tuning out reality, turning up the party, and exuding GDB energy, his signature crowd call.
“GDB stands for ‘god damn baby.’ […] It actually came from a dream I had where I was performing at a big festival and for some reason yelled ‘god damn baby’ on the mic and the crowd went nuts. I made a song about it, called “GDB,” and now it’s a part of my brand,” AYYBO told MP3 MAG in an exclusive interview.
Growing up in a small suburb of Orange County, CA, Bonnema was captivated by music from the moment he listened to groups like Outkast and N.E.R.D., who inspired his affinity for the drums. But after jamming out on Rock Band, joining drum line in high school, and DJing at a few local parties, he put his musical aspirations aside when he went to college to pursue a film degree.
But that didn’t last long. Somewhere in between then and collaborating on the hit song, “RIGHT OR WRONG (HYPNOSIS)” with Pitbull, Aaron Bonnema became AYYBO.
“After getting music software and binging Youtube tutorials, I felt myself get better,” Bonnema explains. “I began developing my sound, which motivated me to keep going. About a year into making music, I had become so obsessed with it that I didn’t want to do anything else.”
During college, Ableton took over. A tale as old as time, Bonnema went from being inspired early on by EDM legends like Daft Punk, The Chemical Brothers, and Chris Lake to hammering out beat-mastered hip-hop inspired bootlegs and remixes on Soundcloud in 2021, when his project officially took off.
That year, he caught Zeds Dead’s attention, reeleasing a house-y remix of their song “lost birds” featuring Elliot Moss on their Altered States label, a new imprint the iconic duo has used to explore non-dubstep genres of house, techno, and more.
Following the momentum boost from the label, AYYBO dove into his own discography. By 2022, he blew up on social media for contagious beats, chaotic visual concepts, and impressive editing skills. Bonnema explains, “I realized that Tik Tok and Instagram reels are like a ticket to the lottery. Every day people go viral so why not use this tool to my advantage.”
As the adrenaline rush of his newfound popularity settled in, Bonnema kept a few key ideas in mind, including diminishing the ego, always being willing to learn something new, and never being afraid of failure. Still holding those core beliefs close, he continues to ground himself by maintaining a growth mindset.
“Before I had a somewhat fixed mindset and thought the music I was making was pretty good, not taking the proper steps to be better. Learning to take input and to be more open-minded was the best thing I did as it allowed me to learn and grow faster.”
Nevertheless, Bonnema’s journey toward success and a healthy mindset is ongoing, and was not always easy for the producer. He reflects on struggling to motivate himself during earlier years, when his music had hardly any traction. But even without the external validation he was craving, he persevered.
The producer explained that by looking inward and recognizing his progress, he pushed himself past doubt and stayed motivated by developing a strong relationship with his intuition.
Now he’s taking on a new set of challenges, which he prefers to call champagne problems. Balancing his time between producing, playing shows, and social media stardom is the full-time job of his dreams, but stepping away from the screens is something he does regularly to maintain clarity. He explains, “There’s more pressure and expectations that sometimes bogs me down. I think disconnecting from socials every now and then helps me stay grounded.”
But even though he’s feeling grounded, his project is soaring high. Several Altered States label releases put him on the map in the past year and helped him solidify his project within the EDM community. Plus, he began 2023 with an iconic opportunity: to collaborate with Mr. 305 himself.
“One of Pitbull’s producers, Sermstyle, hit me up one day asking for the instrumental. That same day, Pitbull really liked it and started to write a hook to it.”
It really was as simple as that. Staying true to the ethereal darkness of his unique sound, incredible connections gravitate toward him. As he continues to manifest his identity as a producer, Bonnema is proud to put out music that he genuinely aligns with. Describing his latest single, AYYBO said, “I think “BASS GLIDE” is probably the weirdest song I’ve made, but is the most honest representation of me. It’s weird but groovy.”
Sinister basslines with a touch of euphoria are what he does best, but it’s just the beginning. Currently, at a sweet spot in his career, Bonnema reflects on his story and shows that believing in the vision and relentlessly self-advocating can reap extraordinary rewards. Nothing is impossible when ego takes a backseat and hard work and a willingness to learn are at the forefront.
Catch AYYBO and the Altered States label at The Ground for Miami Music Week on March 25. Purchase tickets here.