Meet Aaron Kaufman, a songwriter, musician, and the audio engineer of our favorite theater-centric podcast, The Fabulous Invalid. Aaron has worked with Houston based nonprofit Purple Songs Can Fly, writing and recording songs with pediatric cancer patients at the Texas Children’s Hospital, and currently works with music nonprofit Music Doing Good, providing free music outreach programs to at-risk students. Coming from a family of Broadway performers and producers, its only natural for him to take on theater with The Fabulous Invalid. Subscribe on iTunes today to catch this week’s episode featuring Mary Testa and Ali Stroker, stars of the upcoming Broadway revival of Oklahoma! But now, let’s take a break On The Couch….
What do you consider to be your best asset?
My creativity. Obviously as a songwriter and musician, I use it in an artistic form, but I’m also really proud of my ability to write funny (albeit silly) emails that incorporate gifs, usually for things like party invites. I realize this is a very specific and useless skill.
What was your proudest moment?
I used to work with the Arts in Medicine program at Texas Children’s Cancer Center in Houston through an organization called Purple Songs Can Fly. In addition to writing with cancer patients, I used to go room to room and play songs for patients and their families, and there was one time a child had been in an incredible amount of pain and the nursing staff came to get me because she’d worked with the Arts in Medicine program before and she loved music. I came in a played a song for her while she was clearly experiencing a lot of discomfort and pain, and I remember she gradually calmed down and was just listening and I was able to just connect a little and make that moment at least a little more bearable. I kept visiting her while she was in the hospital, and even renamed that song after her. It didn’t matter if anyone else ever hears that song, it meant something powerful to her in that moment.
What is your favorite drink?
Green tea in the morning, tequila and grapefruit at night.
What is your favorite food?
Szechuan Chinese Food, in particular ma pa tofu and suan cai yu (a kind of fish soup with pickled greens).
What is your favorite condiment?
Whole Foods has a Peanut Coconut Sauce that is obviously great on rice/vegetables/protein/etc, but I may have also MAYBE used it on sandwiches in the past maybe…
What is your current obsession?
The Key Lime flavored La Croix. It sounds gross but for some reason it’s not. I can’t explain it and I don’t want to know how it works.
If you could give up one of your vices, what would it be?
Re-watching shows I’ve already seen instead of watching new ones. There are so many great shows out there! But I ALSO love rewatching The Office…
What is the one professional accomplishment you long for most?
I think sort of going back to my experiences working in the hospital, I always aim to create something that really connects with people, in a meaningful and intimate way. I know that’s vague, and probably not quite what you were looking for…
What is the one thing you waste too much money on?
Patterned Button Down Shirts.
What is the one activity you waste too much time doing?
Laying in bed using my phone and trying to convince myself it will help me fall asleep.
What do you consider to be the single greatest threat to your health?
Dropping my iPad on my face while watching Netflix in bed. Probably watching The Office again and not finally starting True Detective.
What is the single best trait you inherited or learned from your parents?
Both of my parents were in theatre, and I think they’re both really comfortable with themselves and with being on stage and in a performance, and I think they helped me develop that in myself.
What is the single worst trait you inherited or learned from your parents?
I think the only person that loves a good sale more than me is my mom. My friends used to make fun of me for saving coupons in college (my mom actually used to mail me coupons for things like cereal), and even now I’ve been known to get too excited about buying something just because it’s a good deal, even if I don’t need it. Which is why I now have way too many backpacks.
What in the world most thrills you?
Creativity and different people’s creative routines! I love the creative process, from what helps inspire people to how their minds work in the moment. I know for myself, nothing is more exciting than when I’m writing a song and things start to come together. It’s incredible. Similarly, it can be so frustrating when you put the work in and things don’t come together. I love learning how other people approach their creative process, too. It’s such a mysterious thing!
What current trend in popular culture most irritates you?
Thinking global warming is fake because it’s cold out? That’s ok to say, right? This is a theatre audience, they understand global warming is real, right?
What was the single most embarrassing moment you’ve ever experienced on the job?
I once had a feedback meeting in my first big job out of college for a big corporate company and they told me some of my other coworkers had said my hair was distracting them in meetings and that I sang too much in the halls. It was kind of like “oh, so you just don’t like me as a person…”
What is your favorite place in the world?
The Bay Area. Also the Coast of Maine. Also spring in Minnesota.
What is the most important trait you seek in a romantic partner?
A similar sense of humor. Knowing global warming is real.
Do you prefer the company of dogs or cats?
Dogs. We were always a dog family growing up, and I love dogs, especially medium-to-big ones. But to be fair, I’m allergic to cats so I’m biased.
What would have to happen to make today the best day of your life?
Having a dinner party with friends from across different parts of my life (growing up, college, etc) in some scenic location where we can relax for the weekend and catch up. Also, a huge sale on Amazon. For backpacks.
What is your personal motto?
Do everything until it gets in the way of something else.