Gifted by Association

Definition: 1) A long, accompanied song for a solo voice, typically one in an opera or oratorio

My mom tells the story of how I got the name Aria with ease. She was driving her car and listening to music when she got caught in traffic. After sitting there for a while, she felt little fetus Aria kicking away. After turning down the music, she realized that, not only was I kicking to the music, but I was kicking in time with the music. Her and my father both saw it fit for me to have a musical name.

I’d like to believe that I got my musical ability from my father. That musical inclination is a hereditary trait, and that I showed stages of it even before I was born.

My father, Gayle Ellett, is the most talented man I know.

Give him any instrument (except for drums, both he and I have trouble coordinating our hands and feet to make a steady rhythm and also keep up with fills) and he will be able to teach himself how to play it within an hour.

When you walk into our single-storied house, immediately to your right is a long table overflowing with musical instruments. On that single table there are instruments from all around the world, each one different from the last. After you pass the table there is a door on the right. It is almost hidden by the dining room table, but it leads to a room of enchantment. And laundry machines.

When my dad first got the house, he ripped out the garage door and put a wall in its place, creating a nearly soundproof room. He needed a place to put his instruments and his washer and dryer machines, and he decided that they both could live harmoniously in one room.

Inside that room there are large instruments and small. The occasional piece of blue foam on the wall, helping to absorb the rooms various echos. There is no room for a bench for the old, slightly out of tune wall piano, so there are two large amplifiers there instead. Then there are three large and complicated looking synthesizers. There are two huge congo drums and three shelves covered in percussion instruments. Cables litter the floor in a spiderweb of electricity, giving electric instruments the sound they need to truly be beautiful instruments.

My dad is a part of many different local Topanga bands, but his main band, started in 1984, is called Djam Karet (meaning “Elastic Time, The Hour That Stretches”). They are a progressive rock instrumental band, and they are not very popular in the United States. In France, however, it is a different story.

In 2009 there was a three day festival called The Crescendo Festival. Not only did Djam Karet participate, but they were the headlining band. My step mom, Rita, will tell you that, as she stood side stage, she saw full grown men crying while listening to Djam Karet’s set. Every fiber in my being wishes that I was able to attend that festival and see my father’s band play live.

I am incredibly lucky to have such a talented musician as a father. I am grateful that I have someone in my family who understands what it is like to have such a raw passion for music that you can hardly control it. I can talk to my dad for hours about musical theory, where the industry is headed, how it is hard to find a new “popular” artist who writes his or her own songs and doesn’t use auto-tune or pitch correction, and even just the process of writing a song.

Djam Karet has released 15 full-length albums, including The Heavy Soul Sessions (released October 19th, 2010) and an additional 16 EPs and compilations, each one rivaling the next in complexity and true musical talent of all of the members of the band.

“They can burn the paint right off your walls.” – Whole Earth Review magazine

Without my dad helping me with music, I would be lost in a sea of confused passion, not knowing how to release my own musical tension.

Thank you, Daddy, you are more loved and appreciated than you understand.




The Crescendo Festival.

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