[This article was originally published under scratchedoutblog.wordpress.com on Feb 22nd, 2017. Jaron is still performing solo at times, but mostly with his band under the name Belcarra. You can find their music and info here:
It’s December, it’s cold outside – what better time to be inside, drink cold beer and talk about music? Exactly. None.
(And yes I am aware Christmas was two months ago, but how is this my fault? Exactly. Not at all.)
For the second edition of drinks with people I also talk about music with I invited myself to my friend Jaron’s house. Jaron Chidiac not only has a very unusual name (apparently the universe is going to explode if there’s ever two people named Jaron in the same room), but is also a very gifted musician and songwriter.
Originally from Prince George (or PG, as the cool kids call it, I am told), Jaron moved to Vancouver a little over a year ago (actually it’s more like one and a half now, but remember, this is actually Christmas time, so forget about that), after having worked here for a few months during the Olympics in 2010 and having fallen in love with the city. And apparently there’s just more going on, musically. Says Jaron.
His musical career started off when Jaron auditioned for a role in a PG production of „Oliver Twist“, in which he ended up playing one of the orphan boys. He was 12 at the time, and had never before sung or played an instrument. But thanks to his musical family background and – of course – The Lion King, the threshold to the music world was quite low. Mum and Dad are both musically inclined, and Jaron’s father is dubbed the Weird Al Jankovich of the family – and that’s gotta say something. The first steps into the magical world of music were taken singing along with Simba and Timon in the family living room.
After his debut in the musical world, Jaron just kept on going. His next role was the Friedrich in „The Sound of Music“, and soon after that he scored his first solo role in the local production „Noah’s Flood“, that sold out a venue holding 700 people for two weeks in a row. Not too shabby for a 14-year-old rookie that, to this point, hadn’t had any institutional musical education.
His breaking voice put a premature end to Jaron’s blooming showbiz career, but thankfully there is the glorious thing we call Rock Music, which Jaron got into around that time. Through his participation in said musicals he was already surrounded with other young people interested in music that were readily available to form a band, like Ryan and Brett Zigler, two brothers who had quite an impact on Jaron’s early Rock-career. They started out playing along to their favourite songs, Air-Band style; Sum41 and Nirvana were some of the legends that blew Jaron’s mind.
And then there was Stephan Lennox, „a really cool guy“, Jaron recalls, from Scotland, who sat beside Jaron in art class. And happened to be Annie Lennox’ nephew – it’s a small world, indeed. Stephan turned out to be a true opinion leader, who significantly expanded Jaron’s musical world that was moving around what was popular in Prince George at the time – mainly Punk and Metal. Stephan and Ryan were ultimately responsible for bringing Muse into Jaron’s life – and suddenly, the world stood still.
„(It was as if Muse) tapped into my brain and made a song for me. (They) changed my perspective on music forever. (…) Everything clicked in that moment.“
Jaron’s fascination for Muse’s blend of Rock and classical music and the recommendation of a far-sighted vocal coach to get more training in Rock singing landed Jaron in the (pre-movie) „School of Rock“ program, a twice-a-week happening band workshop type of thing where he got to sing all the good ol’ Rock classics. Co-member Nathan Geida introduced Jaron to Art Rock and Radiohead, and when Nathan’s brother, who was the bassist of the band, quit, Jaron picked up the instrument and filled the gap. Jaron’s main role model as a bassist was, naturally, Chris Wolstenholme of Muse. His style, particularly in „Hysteria“, left its mark on young Jaron, who ended up playing a bunch of shows with the band before the project fizzled out once everyone finished high school.
A few years later, Jaron finds himself on a plane from Vancouver, on his way back to Prince George, thinking: I wanna do music. Back in PG, he buys himself his very first guitar with the money he just made: It’s a Taylor. He still has it. As luck would have it, a friend of his is playing a show on the night of Jaron’s return, and since one of the supporting acts bailed, he invites Jaron to fill in, which he gladly does, playing cover songs like „Karma Police“ and „Everlong“. From here on out his mind is set: He’s gonna be a Singer/Songwriter.
„You and your guitar against the world“
The romance of the concept was appealing, and thanks to Jaron’s constant enthusiastic engagement with and in anything musical – like volunteering at PG’s Folk Festival – he permanently found new inspiration, met new people and mentors that furthered his career and technique. Martyn Joseph from Wales, an early Singer/Songwriter idol, played said festival sporting a loop pedal, which to this day is often part of the Jaron Chidiac live experience.
Generally Jaron absorbed anything and everything about music, while at the same time working „shitty restaurant jobs“ to support himself. When he hit boundaries with the standard guitar tuning, he chanced upon a John Butler Trio LP, which unfurled the world of open tuning to him. Finding parallels between Butler’s technique and his own bass playing experience, Jaron experimented with the new style.
When former girlfriend Karlie Harker introduced him to Ben Howard, Jaron started playing around with his songs, aquiring as much of them as he could and taking them one step further, making them his own. „Home“ has strong reminiscences of the Howard style, and like most of Jaron’s songs, tells the story of a true experience – in this case, of a fairly crazy, slightly dangerous hiking trip with Karlie and some friends, where it wasn’t always clear if everyone was gonna make it back unharmed.
„Shit gets real now.“
Soon after this adventure Jaron moved to Victoria, where „Hollow Tree“ was finished – a beautiful metaphor for Jaron’s then innate restlessness and insecurity about finding his own way. Following your dream is a tough business, he realized – but as one can hear in his songs, it’s also a very resourceful inspiration.
Despite all uncertainties and the constant future-driven way of life this dream brings with it, Jaron is well aware of how lucky he is, and grateful for all the people he has met that inspired him, that support him and believe in him and his music – and in the band now, too. Because since fall of 2016, the Jaron Chidiac Band is a real thing. They played the „Best of Vancouver“ competition last year and have been hard at work ever since. Since losing their lead guitarist to a blooming solo career they’re now a trio, and playing shows in front of a growing audience. They’re planning to tour in the spring, mainly in British Columbia, but if all goes well they’ll soon be heard of all over the place.
Jaron’s goal is to be a full time musician some day, and with all the friends and supporters he made on the way and continues to attract, I personally don’t see why this shouldn’t pan out. As Jaron says, they all helped him to stay true to his dream, to be prepared for all things to come and – most importantly – to keep writing and performing beautiful, powerful music. Cheers to that.
You can listen to Jaron’s music, share and so on here: