On Valentine's Day, "Everyday Is A Day of Self Love"
Happy Valentine’s Day, fam. We’re taking a peak at how love & beauty are expressed within the Milk community; below, musician Greg Aram in conversation with photographer Jess Farran and Luca Repola.
Greg Aram lives in LA but I somehow see him weekly in New York. Whether he’s hosting DJ events at Kind Regards or managing his musicians playing at Baby’s Alright, the only thing more surprising than his bi-coastal fluidity and weekly trips to the barber is his commitment, or even responsibility, to wearing the exact same outfit everyday: a black “I ❤️ NY” hoodie, a blazer, and Dickies to match. It’s clear his staple wardrobe allows for some fun in the beauty department; Greg jumps head first (literally) into the seat of Brooklyn’s best barber, Rich the Barber, to try whatever style pops into his mind… say, a million tiny red hearts? Greg is refreshingly secure in his masculinity, donning the blush red eyes of a softie in his music video “Boys Don’t Cry” directed by Daddy. He doesn’t flinch when I ask to put mascara or eyeliner on him; he doesn’t even respond actually—he just stares with thick black eyes and smiles. Whether we recognize Greg by his grin or his hoodie or his hearts or his music, it’s clear to all who know him: Greg Aram is a New York lover boy with a hair appointment.
Jess: For the people who don’t know, why don’t we start with a little about yourself: Where are you from, what you do and what you’re working on?
Greg: I grew up in New Jersey, moved to the city when I was 18, lived there for a while and just got a place in LA. Im still back and forth though. I like to keep my fingers dipped in everything, but primarily music: I’m a songwriter, an A&R for Downtown Records as an A&R and an artist. I just started a new artist project with my main producer that’s kind of under wraps right now, but will be talked about soon.
Jess: So the million dollar question, who is your barber?
Greg: Rich the Barber, the best barber in NYC. Also shoutout Erica at BRUSH, she helped with the color.
Luca: Oh so it was a collaborative effort?
Greg: A power collab, yeah.
Jess: How did you get the inspiration to cut your hair and dye it this way?
Greg: I don’t know, I came into 2019 just feeling the color red so I dyed it red initially and then I was on the subway and I saw this guy with a bunch of Louis Vuitton logos tatted into his head and I was like ‘Damn, that would be really sick as a haircut’ but I didn’t connect with LV like that, so I thought hearts would be cool, I just didn’t think it was possible. I was scrolling on IG the next day and saw a video of Rich cutting Tekashi69 ‘s hair before going to jail and I was like ‘yo, that’s my guy, I have to hit him up’ so I DM’d him and he was down. Didn’t even think about valentines day to be honest.
Luca: You said that you felt the color red in 2019, what does red mean to you?
Greg: I never really connected with the color before. Red is such an emotional color, and I think I’ve been dealing with some emotional dissociation for a while now and it wasn’t until recently that I’ve grounded myself and came into the new year feeling really emotionally connected and red physically embodied what that felt like for me.
Jess: Whether it’s your barber, your friend, a photographer or musician, what is the most important thing for you in any relationship?
Greg: I think just mutual self awareness, you know? Im at a point in life where Im only trying to surround myself with people that uphold complete honesty and to be in that place you have to be honest with yourself before anything.
Luca: You don’t seem like you have a hard time trusting people, how did get to that point?
Greg: I don’t know if it’s trust, it’s more like I have no expectations for people. I definitely had and still have insecurities and being to express those are tough in fear of judgement. I have this tendency of putting other people first with the return being some sort of self validation. Its something I’ve been working on because in the end of the day its me and me alone so knowing that and being humble to the universe really allows me to be open. I maintain trust in myself in the same way I only set my own expectations. When it comes to surface level things like hair it’s the same thing, who cares? Go crazy and have no expectation, it makes life more fun and gives you a chance to uphold individuality. Fuck people who judge you. Let it wean out the people who you don’t need in your life.
Jess: What is the closest you’ve ever been to love?
Greg: Love oh fuck.
Luca: It’s a loaded question.
Greg: I mean, I’ve been in relationships. I left a long relationship last year where I can confidently say I felt in love, maybe for the first time.
Luca: Do you think it was real? Why?
Greg: Yeah definitely. And it took breaking up for it to feel the most real. Experiencing heartbreak for the first time was the most humbling thing I’ve ever gone through. It was like this big ego death, where I just felt so small and emotions controlled me. But it was beautiful.
Luca: Why was it beautiful?
Greg: Heartbreak is beautiful because it reminds us we’re alive. Not a lot of things do that now, especially for kids our age. As humans we tend to just put things in boxes, like we box emotions as negative or positive ‘sadness, anger, fear’– these are all negative emotions. Happiness, joy, etc’ – these are all positive emotions. I think that’s bullshit. It’s all a spectrum, like color. You can’t say red is a negative color and blue is a positive color, its color, its all rounded. Sure you don’t want to be perpetually stuck in sadness, but experiencing them all in the way heartbreak delivers them is a beautiful and humbling thing.
Jess: Do you believe in soulmates?
Greg: It sounds nice right? In my opinion there’s a math to it, like a percentage of compatibility. People connect based on how compatible they are right? So in theory everyone has people that are 100% compatible with them. Chances that we find one of those people are so slim that we tend to just settle with whoever is the most compatible person we’ve encountered. Then it comes down to an environment thing – like if you grew up in a small town with only 1000 people, you end up with the person you’re most compatible with quickly, even if that person is only 60% compatible with you. It wouldn’t matter because there is nothing to compare it to so it works and that’s why you see like those small town kids get married when they’re 18 or whatever. It’s different for everyone I know who grew up in a city or grew up in social media because there are so many people to compare to. Then people get stressed and feel like there’s this expectation to get married and settle even though they weren’t completely compatible. My parents split up when I was 19. It took them 19 years to realize “hey, maybe we just aren’t soulmates” which I commend because I feel like most people in that generation just settle and stick through it and end up living shitty lives. There’s probably something to say about the rise of social media tied into the rise in divorce rates. My bad, yeah yeah I do think it exists. I guess my definition of “Soulmate” is the person in the world that you are 100% compatible with. Lucky if you find them though.
Luca: Are you currently dating or looking for love?
Greg: To go back on what I said earlier, I think this is the first time in my life I’ve put myself and my emotional fulfillment before anything or anyone. Last time I was in a relationship, I didn’t have the same self awareness that I do now and I definitely think that’s what lead things down hill. Im still really focused on myself right now, so maybe I’m hesitant in fear that a relationship might comprise this “me first” mentality, but obviously people aren’t evil and finding someone who can encourage what I’m doing for my mental health and I can do the same would be a nice thing to have. Yeah, Im open to it.
Jess: Who do you see when you look at these photos of you?
Greg: Someone who’s working on being comfortable in their own skin.
Jess: Do think that differs from what others see?
Greg: I think the people that who think they know me have some dated sense of who I am, a past character I portrayed in order to maintain societal expectations and emotional strength…
Luca: …Do you think peoples expectations will shift when they see the new you?
Greg: Honestly, I don’t care what people expect out of me. Again, I’m at a point where my happiness comes first and you know…what people should expect is the best version of myself, and that’s what I’m here to promote and in doing so work with people I trust like Jess to make something cool for ourselves and if other people can feel something from it, that’s even cooler.
Luca: You talk about the best version of yourself, what would you say your favorite thing is about yourself?
Greg: That I’m just blunt as fuck.
Greg: Yeah. It’s the New York in me. It cuts through, its polarizing where you either like it or you don’t. I’m not here to be nice or mean or whatever. Im just here to be me.
Luca: How do you feel about Valentine’s Day, Mr Blunt?
Greg: Haha, um, I mean I get it. You know? Why not have a holiday for everything as a nice reminder. Its always weird being single on Valentine’s Day but I try not to get caught up in tradition.
Luca: Do you think Valentine’s Day could be a day of self love?
Greg: I think everyday is a day of self love.
Luca: Good answer. Okay, you’re 70 years old and you’ve lived a beautiful full life, who’s around you?
Greg: I don’t know. Hopefully my kids, and their kids. I like the idea of kids.
Luca: Okay, but who’s in the squad?
Greg: Honestly, I don’t know what my projections are for 70, but if there is a situation where I can upload my consciousness to the cloud like San Junipero and be chilling with everyone I loved throughout my life then I might be down for that.
Luca: Anything you want to end with?
Greg: Just for my mom to know I love her.
Talent: Greg Aram
Photo & Art Direction: Jess Farran
Stylist: Haile Lidlow
Assistant: Julia Loten
Stay tuned to Milk for more V-Day art.