Neon Trees took the stage that June night full of energy, with a performance that reached the ears and hearts of many. One person in that crowd, though, was perhaps more affected than anyone else present. With tears streaming down her face, she looked at the band that managed to take local gigs to a full-blown international career and knew she wanted to see more local bands find that same success.
Aimee Vargas had always wanted to be a singer when she was younger. It was her passion up until she was 15 years old. She soon realized, however, that she wasn’t willing to put in the work to make it big. That’s when she decided that her place was behind the scenes working with local bands.
“I want to see them succeed because I know how it is to have a lot of passion for something,” Vargas said.
Her passion for music began when she was 11 and started to attend concerts like crazy. Once she discovered the Velour, it was a steady progression from simply watching bands to becoming their close advocate and friend.
“We have been side by side at many shows,” said VanLadyLove’s bass player, Steele Saldutti. “She’s been front row at almost all of our local shows and has helped us promote events and connected us to different TV, radio and concert opportunities.”
It could have posed as a difficult task for Vargas to go up after every Velour show and introduce herself to new bands. She had a stuttering problem and was outwardly starstruck, but Vargas made an effort to start a conversation after shows.
“A lot of people ask me, ‘How do you do it?'” Vargas said. “And I just tell them no matter how scary it is, I still have my arms attached to my body at the end of the day. So I just do it.”
Vargas’s next step was to become involved with “street teaming,” which is a group of people that a band will select in order to promote its music. This sometimes involved Vargas booking shows for bands, but mostly she uses her contacts within the music scene to spread the word about new artists. That, paired with her avid social media promotion, made her an asset to any band trying to make it in the Provo scene.
“Aimee is especially beneficial for new up-and-coming bands who don’t know the nuances of the music scene, the various venues and opportunities available to them,” Saldutti said. “She helps get them plugged in.”
Eventually all of her involvement transformed into a paying gig. The producers of a new show called “Backstage Avenue” found Vargas and hired her on as the talent coordinator.
“It’s funny, because I made it as a New Year’s Resolution to find a job that was locally involved in the music scene, and then in February, not even a month later, I was given this job,” Vargas said.
Her main responsibility is to find local bands to showcase on the program, which comes easily for Vargas since she is familiar with almost everyone in the industry.
“Aimee is all about building relationships with people,” said Backstage Avenue host Nathan Osmond, “Neon Trees agreed to do an interview with us because of the relationship that Aimee had established.”
These relationships within the music industry are not only helpful to Vargas in her current position but have also been the therapy she needed to overcome hardships throughout her adolescence.
“From the age of five until I was 14 or 15 I went through depression and was trying to find who I was as a person and how I belonged in the world,” Vargas said.
Along with her depression, Vargas was put in a wheel chair and had to endure 30 different surgeries due to a lifelong disability called Spina bifida. She can walk, but it’s difficult over long distances, requiring the use of a wheelchair for most of her day-to-day life.
“Being involved with the music scene and being part of a team has helped me deal with things in a positive manner,” Vargas said, “whether it’s with my disability or anything that comes in life.”
Although Vargas might have the option to explore the music scene outside of Provo, she feels that local band promotion will always be her first love.
“Honestly, my heart is where the local music scene is because it’s more personal and I get to know these people outside of the stage,” Vargas said.
Her first experience with Neon Trees made this point clear to Vargas. She looked up at a group of people she was able to see progress from just a local no-name to something recognizable across the world. But bands that experience this kind of transition needs help. In this, Vargas has found her niche.