Aislyn played their first live show on May 18th at Piano’s in Brooklyn, but the project has been years in the making. The duo consists of Ian Hultquist of Passion Pit, and his girlfriend Sofia degli Alessandri and has been in the works since the two met and started dating at Berklee in Boston a few years ago. Now living in Brooklyn, they have released their own EP and last month’s show marked the beginning of something special.
The collaboration began right after the pair graduated from Berklee with film score majors, and just as Hultquist’s own career began to take off thanks to the success of Passion Pit. During the following year the very early pieces of the group began to take form as degli Alessandri recalls the very beginnings of the band: “I started messing around with some instrumental music and film scores and from that, Aislyn formed. At first it was just a few catchy short songs that either consisted of instrumentals and pieces, or just a few verses”.
In the beginning, degli Alessandri was more responsible for the content of the songs while Hultquist would assist more at the production end. Over time, this developed into more of a collaboration with the duo “trying really hard to work as closely as possible”. Composition has not always been easy for Aislyn as Hultquist still spends a good deal of time on the road. To get over this hurdle, the band is forever indebted to the internet and music technology.
Today they send songs back and forth over the net until they are both back in Brooklyn for the final touches of production. This method, while at times must be tedious, does offer a unique look at the evolution of a song, “because of the sending back and forth we will often end up with about ten versions of one song,” they say, “and it’s pretty amusing to go back and listen through them once the track is done!”
The name Aislyn comes from a film score the two worked on in college which contained the name. Meaning ‘Dream’ in Gaelic, the name is very appropriate as their music is very dreamy and spacious. Listen to the track ‘Nailbiter’ and at once you will have the sensation that you are floating as a synth-heavy intro coupled with high-pitched female vocals in the background set a wonderful tone and atmosphere. Rather than the hazy and lo-fi approach adopted by so many ‘dream-pop’ bands these days, Aislyn’s lyrics are very precise and audible, giving them a unique sound and allowing degli Alessandri’s beautiful voice to be heard loud and clear.
On ‘Hot Night’, the duo exchange vocals while a build-up of synth, keyboards and drum-machines give the song an all around epic feel. The level of production is also much higher than on many similar projects and it’s no surprise that Aislyn have leant these techniques to doing a number of remixes for well-known acts like Neon Indian and Freelance Whales, with several more in the offing.
The band says that they are influenced by all types of music from Massive Attack to Muse, Wilco, Friendly Fires and Grizzly Bear. “Our music tends to be a bit of a mix of all the above,” they say, “taking an electronic edge to conventional pop and indie rock music”. The end result is something unique and certainly very hard to classify. A recent blogger referred to the music as ‘Cosmic-Pop-Noir’, which is just fine by the band. Whatever you wish to call them, Aislyn do not fall easily into any musical category, even in today’s world of easy classification, which is a great thing as it means their music is something different.
Their first show this past month was supporting their good friends BRAHMS and Arms and they are hoping to play a few more shows in the New York area this July when Hultquist returns from his tour. In addition to the EP, the band has a few more songs that they play live, and are planning to write more over the summer. Although there are no formal plans for a full-length album, Aislyn say they do talk about it quite a bit and we may be hearing from them some time in 2011, but you should check them out sooner than that.