The team at Subba-Cultcha spends a phenomenal amount of time searching for artists that we feel stand out from the crowd, break the mould so-to-speak. So when we’ve found something we think is new, an artist trying something different, which produces a superb outcome we want to tell everyone about it.
This is what happened when we heard Aylin Eser’s track “Dancing Shoes”. Aylin’s been compared with Norah Jones and Nina Simone and this is evident through the tracks from her new EP “Arrows of Desire” which she’s been working on with award winning producer Will Larsen.
Classifying themselves as an Indie band, we weren’t sure if there was one way to describe their music, as one of the things that really impressed Subba-Cultcha is the range of sounds that were evident throughout the tracks of the EP. All the songs add something different which we think is incredibly impressive.
So we got in touch with Aylin to find out more…
SC – How are you? Where does this Q&A find you?
AE – I’m great thanks. In Melbourne, Australia.
SC – How did the recording sessions for your latest release go? Did you achieve all you’d planned to?
AE – We’ve just released our debut EP, “Arrows of Desire.” It has four songs on it and we’re really very happy with it. The recording sessions were all done in Will Larsen’s (the other member of Aylin Eser) recording studio, so we could relax and really spend the time we wanted on each song without feeling like we were running out of time or spending too much money. It’s a really comfortable, relaxing way to work, because it’s important for both of us to get things right. Will plays all the instruments too, so nothing is recorded as a band, let alone a duet – each instrument is recorded one by one, so it all takes time.
We produce the sessions ourselves too. We’re comfortable enough that we can pretty much say anything to each other, so if something is not working, one of us will tell it like it is. We both want it to be right and as good as we can get it, so we’re always pushing the other to do better. With a lot of people that could be grating, but I think Will and I have found a good balance.
We didn’t plan a set date for the release of the EP – we kept recording until we felt happy all of the tracks were finished and ready. It was only then we thought, “ok - let’s put it out now.” In that sense, we did achieve everything we had planned.
SC – What goals did you set yourself before you started recording? Did you do anything differently this time, on purpose? If so, why?
AE – Our goal is always to make the next song different from the last. Mostly that will be in the way it’s written or the style of the song, but in the end, it’s still me singing and Will playing on the recording. He plays the way he plays and I am always going to sound like it’s me singing, so it can be tricky to get a different flavor into each and every song.
One of the ways we try to do get the songs to sound different is to approach the recording of each song in a different way. Sometimes we start out recording the drums. Other songs might start by recording piano and the drums don’t go down until the bass and guitars are there. I generally record the vocals last, but not always. “One More Chance” has some strings in the chorus that weren’t recorded until after I had sung. Or we might try recording my vocals in a different part of the studio or with a different mic, just to get a different nuance in there.
SC – What do you feel are your own limitations when it comes to creating/writing music?
AE – Time. I wish I had more time to write. There just doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day. And there are always distractions, whether it be the phone or TV or just going online. Sometimes you just have to switch all electronic devices off. No phone. No TV. No iPod. No computer. And definitely no music – background music is a killer. I have to have quiet. It’s only then do the ideas start to come.
A friend of Will’s writes music for TV in the UK. He came out to Australia last year for a month, just to compose. He didn’t come here for a holiday or to meet up with his Australian friends – he came here to write!! And it wasn’t really Australia that was inspiring him to compose – it was more that he was removed from all his normal day to day distractions. I’d love to do that and have a month in a hotel somewhere just to write – preferably somewhere tropical and warm, with a pool and beautiful, amazing food everywhere!! :) Going away somewhere without the normal everyday distractions for the sole purpose of writing sounds very, very attractive to me. Might be an idea anytime we need to write a new album!! :)
SC – What do you consider to be your best 3 songs, and tell us the inspiration behind them?
AE – Generally, Will writes the music first and then I’ll write lyrics to his music afterwards. So whatever mood he sets determines what I’ll then write, though he never tells me beforehand what thoughts and emotions he thinks the music is conveying. He just lets me have my head so I can respond in a pretty neutral way. After I’ve written the lyrics, we’ll have a chat about whether I got what he was thinking, and so far (touch wood!) I’ve managed to get it right overtime!!
The EP opens with “Dancing Shoes.” Initially Will told me after he’d written the music for this, that he didn’t want to give it to me. He was actually a little embarrassed. It’s actually his inner Burt Bacharach coming out!! He’s a huge fan of the man and his phenomenal song-writing abilities, but he’s very careful about who he tells. There’s a pretty obvious nod towards “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head” with the music, especially with the flugel horn in the chorus, but there’s a string quartet in there too, which is not very Burt Bacharach. When I first heard the song, I immediately thought it didn’t suit us at all!!! But it grew on me and slowly I started to think otherwise. :) Now, oddly enough, it’s the song to which we get the most positive reactions from people. People love it!! And both of us nearly rejected it outright before it even saw the light of day!!
“Arrows of Desire” is the second song on the EP. Will is a classically trained musician and he uses a chord progression very much like Beethoven in this, although he doesn’t know exactly which sonata he was thinking of – possibly “Moonlight” or maybe the “Hammerklavier.” But then he has these guitar and harpsichord parts in there that are very Beatle-like and “I Want You” from “Abbey Road.” We’ve even had one very prominent music exec say he thought it sounded like Radiohead – which is fine with us!! :)
I was telling Will about (French singers) Belle du Berry and Zaz and I asked him to write me a song like Zaz’s “Les Passants”. He said he wouldn’t write something exactly like that, but he thought the idea of French cabaret was a good starting point. So with French cabaret he mind, he wrote the music for “Dolls and Trolls.”
SC – What do you love and what do you hate about life on the road? Tell us your funniest tour experience yet?
AE – My three favorite things to do are to sing, travel and to eat good food. Touring is all three, so it really is the best job in the world. I can’t think of anything else I’d rather do. I especially love to discover new places and I’m always excited by new eating experiences. Touring at it’s best is all that – music, finding your way in a new city and discovering dishes you’ve never had before. It’s the best job in the world.
What do I hate about life on the road? Is there a down side to touring? All I have to do is keep things in perspective. Most people don’t like their job. Most people hate the thought of having to get up in the morning to go to work. Then most people can’t wait until 5pm everyday (or whenever it is they finish), just so they can go home. Then through every single working week of every single year for their whole working life, most people can’t wait for the weekend. So there’s a lot of people in the world spend their whole lives being miserable, either dreading going to work or waiting to go home from work.
I get to travel and sing for a living. It’d be a bit rich if I ever start to complain there are too many green M&M’s in my dressing room!! :)
SC – How would you describe your own/bands sound, or what do you hate being labelled as?
AE – It’s indie with a strong orchestral influence. Our music is heavily influenced by the late sixties and early seventies, but then we put our own modern spin on it. Will has a background working with orchestras (Melbourne Symphony Orchestra), opera (Opera Australia), ballet (Bolshoi Ballet/New York Ballet) and film scores (Sundance Film Festival). He also won Best International Score at the 2012 Los Angeles Movie Awards. So his classical side can’t help but come through in our songs.
We’re both pretty serious about music and why we’re in this business. It’s really about creating our own music and performing. It’s as simple as that. I’d hate for anyone to say we were in it for money and fame. If I wanted that, I’d audition for X-Factor, or Idol or some other reality show.
SC – Who is currently moving you musically at the moment?
AE – I’ve been listening to Imany’s The Shape of a Broken Heart lately. Her voice is almost hypnotic and I enjoy her lyrics also. I’m also listening to Eddi Front, Dan Mangan, Steffaloo, Priscilla Ahn, Massa Cygnet, Butterfly Boucher, Ben Folds and Kate Miller-Heidke. And I’m looking forward to Daughter’s album coming out.
SC – What album changed your life and why?
AE – Hmmm, this is a hard question to answer. I don’t know if it is THE album that changed my life but one that certainly affected me on an emotional level was Nina Simone’s Four Women album. Throughout the album, Nina is not only able to mesmerize the listener with her phenomenal vocal talent but she is also able to bring to attention various social and racial issues in order to educate the listener. She manages to arouse a deep empathy within me, for both her and her cause, each time I listen to it and in my opinion that is a grand achievement. This album and Nina’s singing taught me that singing is not only about hitting the right notes and singing the right lyrics but is also about putting your feelings on the line, singing with passion and fighting for what you believe in! I respect and admire her for inspiring further awareness and passion within me.
SC – If you could erase one single/album from history (your own or someone else’s) which would it be and why?
AE – Milli Vanilli’s “Girl You Know It’s True” might represent a low point in the history of pop – the ultimate in pre-packaged style over substance. Fab Morvan and Rob Pilatus won a Grammy for the album but they hadn’t actually sung on the recording – it had been session singers. So that’s the album I choose to delete from history.
Oh wait… Arista Records deleted the album and its masters from their catalogue taking Girl You Know It’s True out of print in 1990 when the scandal broke.
Thank you Arista. :)
SC – A rumour you’d like to start about yourself, or one you’d like stopped?
AE – Would someone please tell Beyonce to stop calling me?
SC – The revolution comes, who would you like to be first against the wall (and if you’re feeling particularly bitchy, a second, third, fourth and so on…)?
AE – The executioners. They’ll be thinking about that for days!! :)
SC – Best piece of advice you’d give to aspiring musicians, or the best piece of advice you were given when you started?
AE – Don’t expect overnight success. That would be like giving up your job to buying lottery tickets full-time, fully expecting an income. Ok you might succeed if you are extraordinarily and ridiculously lucky, but you probably won’t. Expecting instant success because you think you are better than anyone else can only lead to disappointment and worse, disillusionment. You’ll give up and throw the towel in well before you get anywhere near success.
On the other hand, if you expect to work very, very hard (for years if need be), you stand a much greater chance of success. People in this industry will notice artists who work hard – it’s far more attractive to the power brokers and fans alike than even (dare I say) your songs. It’s very difficult to get noticed sitting in your lounge room watching TV. If you work hard enough to achieve a sustainable income on your own, someone else will then ask, “What could they achieve with more investment from me?” It’ll then be up to you to decide if that will be a mutually beneficial arrangement or an exploitative one.
SC – If you’re in a car going at the speed of light, and someone turns the headlamps on, would they do anything?
AE – Hey, I’ve got way bigger problems to worry about than that!! If we’re traveling at the speed of light (299 792 458m/s), how the hell am I going to hear my car stereo when the speed of sound is nearly 881 000 times slower (340.29m/s)??
Wait… are we in a vacuum?? :)
SC – What are you favourite tracks on your ipod/in your cd collection and why, in no order?
AE – 1. Hindi Zahra – Beautiful Tango (puts a smile on my face)
2. Nina Simone – Wild Is The Wind (gives me goosebumps)
3. Erica Jennings – Its a Lovely Day (love the lyrics)
4. Imany – You Will Never Know (I love her voice)
5. Etta James – The Sky Is Crying (she’s so cool)
For more of Aylin Eser’s music check out the following links: