According to Aaron Carter, the singer made $300 million by the time he turned 12 with songs like “I Want Candy” and “How I Beat Shaq.”
He was a superstar in the early 2000s, but hasn’t released an album since 2002. With the exception of a stint in rehab and an ill-advised reality TV show called “House of Carter,” he’s largely been off the map.
Now, he’s trying to make a comeback. He’s working on his first album in 13 years, LØVË, which he plans on releasing in early 2017. He also just released a new EDM-inflected single called “Fool’s Gold,” which he wrote and produced himself. He even directed and edited the music video on his own.
Carter told INSIDER that he’s spent the last 10 years learning how to make an album from scratch. “There’s a difference between a beatmaker and a producer,” he said, explaining that a beatmaker doesn’t know what to do with a beat after he’s created it, while a producer starts with a beat, then brings in songwriters and people to edit vocals.
He said he started out as a beatmaker. He went to Guitar Center on his 18th birthday, accessed his trust fund, and claims to have spent half a million dollars in less than an hour on stuff he didn’t know how to use. He then made beat after beat, and hired someone to produce them.
He described it as “like being in a self-imposed creative incubator,” adding “Imagine a hockey player that lived in Alaska who’s, like, trying to learn how to do the J Shot… I was just in Alaska, tucked away.”
Over the years, he amassed a wealth of musical knowledge and technical production skills, which he didn’t get during the “Aaron’s Party” days. For example, a stint in an off-Broadway production of “The Fantasticks” from 2011 to 2013 taught him about scoring and musical directing.
“I didn’t want to give up on music,” he said. “I had all these fans, and I wanted to prove myself — that I’m not just an entertainer, that I’m a musician, a composer, a conductor. I can orchestrate.”
Carter went through a lot of financial troubles, which ultimately led to him filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. This made it difficult for him to get outside funding for his music, prompting him to learn how to do everything himself in order to make the album-making process a little cheaper.
Sixteen-year-old pop stars don’t turn into 28-year-old pop stars easily, but Carter isn’t bothered if his fans still associate him with “Aaron’s Party” and “I want Candy” rather than “Fool’s Gold.”
“That’s who I am,” he said, adding that “there’s a way to connect the dots.” He’s trying to bridge the gap with new takes on his old songs, like an electronic remix of “I Want Candy,” or a sequel to “Aaron’s Party” called “The Afterparty.”
“I have something to prove,” Carter said. He wants to create music that he can be proud of when he’s older, and says that he doesn’t care about money. “I was driving a 6.0 Lamborghini Diablo when I was 12 years old, we had 12 cars in our driveway, we had 12 houses, five dogs, two 70-foot yachts, 20 golf carts… This stuff didn’t matter to me. Love matters to me.”
“LØVË” matters to him.