SACO – Like many in the community, Brandon Aull was in a state a shock when he heard that 18-year-old Alivia Welch and 19-year-old Derrick Thompson were killed in their Sokokis Road apartment in Biddeford.
“I was headed to Portland to visit some friends and it really didn’t sink in until I came home,” he said. “I was rattled and in shock.”
Welch and Thompson were killed Dec. 29, allegedly over a dispute with their landlord, James Pak, about parking, snow removal and rent payments. Also injured during the shooting was Susan Johnson, Thompson’s 44-year-old mother.
Aull had been a friend of Welch’s for years and, after they both graduated from Thornton Academy in 2012, he has focused on school and his music.
“When it finally registered that it was real, I broke down and spent the next few days trying to think of something to do,” Aull said.
Aull dealt with the death the only way he knew how: he started writing.
“I had to do something that would help me – not just get my emotions out there – but to help everyone. A lot of people were struggling,” he said.
Within a week of the shooting, Aull had penned several drafts of a song, and when he felt it was finally taking shape, he contacted a music producer he had worked with before in Portland, John Zebley, about recording the single.
Zebley works primarily for Studio 250, but when he heard that Aull was planning to donate all of the proceeds from the song to Welch’s family, he signed on to help.
The 18-year-old singersongwriter now had a place to record and mix the music.
Aull contacted Elsa Curran, a vocalist he worked with before, and asked her to add some backing vocals to the song and work on the chorus with him.
“I didn’t have those parts written when we started but, after talking with her, I knew what I wanted to say, “ Aull said. “I wanted to get her take on it, so all three of us worked to write that part.”
Once the music was recorded and the trio created a digital single, Aull knew he had to send the music to two people, Zachary Greaton and Alivia’s mother, Jocelyn Welch.
Greaton and Aull produced music videos for some of Aull’s earlier recordings, but this song was different. Aull wanted Greaton to help him create a video for the song.
Greaton and Aull had spoken about the writing and Greaton knew the song was almost finished. But Greaton hadn’t been part of the recording process, so he didn’t know what the final version would be like.
“I was blown away when I heard it for the first time,” said Greaton. “But I knew right away what to do with the video. I had these images in my head.”
Welch had also heard that some students were working to make a tribute song and video for her daughter, even though she hadn’t heard directly from Aull.
“It was all over Facebook that someone was recording a song … I had in my mind that it must have been Brandon,” she said. “Alivia and I had just talked about him.”
Taking a deep breath or two, Welch said her daughter had told her how talented Aull was and “He really is going to make it someday.”
Aull contacted Welch when the song and the video were completed and said he wanted her to be the first one to hear it and the first one to see it before it was released to the public.
“I asked him to come over and as soon as he was finished with his classes for the day, he did,” Welch said.
“I watched it for the first time by myself,” she said. “I had listened to the song over and over, but the video was Liv … completely,” she said. “He didn’t miss a thing, he just didn’t.”
Welch’s emotions about her daughter, the violence that took her away and the overwhelming support shown by Aull and others sometimes get the best of her, but in some ways, Welch also feels her daughter is still there, helping.
“Everything in the video is Liv. The pink colors, the balloons, everything,” she said. “I believe she’s behind this too.”
“I’ve heard from some of her teachers and friends. So many people have seen the video and now they have a chance to download the song and help,” Welch said.
As of Feb. 8, more than 32,000 people have watched the video on YouTube and Aull estimated that more than 3,000 people have downloaded the song.
“At one point we were number 159 on the iTunes Hip/Hop chart,” Aull said. “The song was listed next to a song by Jay Z. It’s crazy,” he said.
Welch is in the process of setting up an account at a local bank and plans to use whatever funds are generated by the sale of the song to educate people about the violence and the other issues that took her daughter away.
With eyes filled with tears and voice that seemed to crack with each word she said, “The timing of the song, and Brandon … really, it’s all perfect.”
To see the complete music video, use the following URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r0zATm8t3Hg
Find it at iTunes using: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/liv-let-liv-feat.-elsa-curran/id597682570?i=597682689