“There’s this saying my mom always says to me,” Senior Aubren Hickernell explained. “It’s like, shoot for the moon, land among the stars. That’s what I’m trying to do.”
Hickernell and music are two things that have always gone together. At just 3 years old she started to learn how to play the piano. At 13, she traded a friend her skateboard for a guitar and since then she has been writing and performing her own songs, Hickernell said.
She then began performing on the streets of Claremont, California. From there she was able to get gigs at local shops, restaurants and small venues. At 16, she made the move to Los Angeles, a city that is a centerpiece for musicians and artists all over the world.
Hickernell, who originally thought she would be attending the L.A. Recording School, said she had never actually heard of California Lutheran University until one of her friends graduated from here. She discovered that Cal Lutheran offered a music production program so she applied and was admitted shortly after. She also learned that she could potentially earn a scholarship specifically for the program.
Although she was hesitant at first, she decided to go for it anyways and was able to earn herself a Visual and Performing Arts scholarship.
“It wasn’t what I expected. I didn’t expect to have them be like ‘Yeah we want you to come here and here’s a scholarship to do what you love,’” Hickernell said.
Being a music production major, her time in the practicing studio was spent not only being a singer and songwriter for her jazzy tunes, but also working on technical parts of music like mixing, editing, recording and proficiently using Pro Tools, a sound recording and production software.
Hickernell said she did not realize what she was meant to do until the beginning of her junior year when her professor, Daniel Aguilar offered to help her develop an extended play or EP.
She credits a lot of success to her professors because their help and networking have led her to do things most artists could only dream of.
Lucas Frankel is credited by Hickernell in supporting her every step of the way. Frankel is a drummer and senior music production major and is able to help bring a new perspective to Hickernell’s music. He also helps put bands together for Hickernell’s live performances.
“I think what sets her apart from other music students is her drive. Anyone can talk about what they will do, but she really goes and does it,” Valenzuela said. “She’s willing to really put in the time and see things through, which I find very admirable.”
Hickernell said she is fortunate enough to have the help of Ryan Valenzuela, a student who currently working on his independent studies with Hickernell. She said he helps out a ton in the studio and on the production side of music.
Since then, Hickernell has recorded four songs, one of which was entirely recorded at a number of studios in Los Angeles including Steakhouse Studios and United Recording. Hickernell also performed two gigs at the House of Blues, the Hotel Cafe and the State Social House.
She said she is currently trying to progress as much as she can into the Los Angeles live music scene and also mentioned how getting to perform somewhere as notable as the House of Blues really drives her to make her mark in the music industry, while also staying true to herself.
“As a fellow creative, when we are working on new ideas and such, she really puts the whole room on a great creative vibe that we all feed off of. That’s just one of the great things about working with her,” Valenzuela said.
While Hickernell was waiting her turn to perform at the House of Blues, she said she took a peek at the big stage where another band was playing. She said after getting to see the size of the crowd and feel the performance, she turned to her sister and said, “That’s next!”
“It’s very, very important for artists to play live. Like that’s a really big factor, because you can be really good at the studio recording side, but you have to develop that artist engagement and be able to read a crowd,” Hickernell said.
Hickernell will be releasing several singles followed by an EP spring semester.