Something Old, Something New…
Aisles were first presented to me with their 4:45 AM album, I loved it, it was different and exciting, it was quintessentially English or (North) American. Now there are changes, the core of the band remains but with a new singer being introduced, Israel Gil. I had the opportunity to ask him a few questions, which I hope you will find as enlightening as I have…
Aisles have been around for a while now, mixing a variety of musical styles, but throughout this they have sustained their South American feel. With your classical background in music theory, what do you think you will bring to the band’s sound?
The classical influence and my career as a violinist will be noticed in the songs and in the way I create vocal melodies. Anyway, this will just be another ingredient to the formula that Aisles have been working with. I would say that I sing in a way that an instrument will, but always taking care of the interpretation and the feeling on the lyrics. On the other hand, my way of learning music will be noticed in the research I’m doing to be in touch with the progressive style (that’s the music theory influence).
How would you describe yourself and your influences?
I’ve had many influences. As a kid I used to hear a lot of Michael Jackson’s music, I enjoyed his performances and versatility. Later I started listening to rock music (when I was about 10 or 11 years old). I remember hearing Bohemian Rhapsody and watching Freddie Mercury again and again every night, while in the morning I listened to Depeche Mode, especially Personal Jesus and Enjoy the Silence. Sometimes a bit of Guns ‘n’ Roses. I loved Welcome to the Jungle and Paradise City. Anyway, in my teenage years I focused on classical music (hearing lots of versions of Ivry Gitlis, a real violinist virtuoso (from my point of view, he is a rock star), and Jazz. Miles Davis, Charles Mingus, Thelonious Monk and I was obsessed with A Love Supreme by John Coltrane.
The band you’ve joined are acknowledged in Progressive Rock circles, other than Aisles do you listen to Prog, and if so, whom? Exclusive of genre, who are you favourite artists?
I’ve been listening to progressive rock music since my adolescence without knowing it. I remember my uncle showing me lot of rock and metal bands since I was a kid, like Yes, Marillion, Genesis, Rush and Tool. I’m not a person that has favourites, but recently I’ve been hearing lot of The Mars Volta. I would say that my favourite prog rock bands are the Mars Volta and Yes. I really enjoy listening to Cedric Bixler-Zavala’s voice. And I could listen to Yes for hours. The different moods that they can manage in their music is simply genius.
Do you want to continue with the thematic style that the band have pretty much followed to date, or will the new songs be more self contained?
I think that expressiveness is important, but everything is made around the feelings of the band. I will be the person that shows that emotion with my voice, but the songs are the ones that will drive the final sound. I can bring intensity to that sound or I can bring some introspection. It all depends. Anyway, the next album will have both.
What excites you most about the future of the band?
I think the future is very promising. I’m willing to learn a lot from my very experienced bandmates and having fun with the interaction between our music and the listeners. Anyway, I think that the most challenging part will be making everybody feel what I will be feeling at that moment. That will be fun.
The PR mentions new material, how far on this new path have you travelled?
Well I was recording in the studio about two weeks ago. I’m preparing for something big. The pandemic has been something difficult, but it has also given me the chance of focusing in my thoughts and I have been singing a lot. The new material is also a part of that training.
And when can we expect to hear some? The thought of waiting until June 2021 is quite daunting?
Well, don’t feel disappointed. Remember that we are starting to put things in motion, so things will be happening quickly. Meanwhile, you will be seeing us doing different material that we will be posting on our social media. I strongly recommend you to follow my bandmates’ profiles in social media. We will be sharing videos for everybody! And I like interacting with the people. Don’t miss that chance.
Recruited as a singer, do you play any musical instruments?
I am a very well-trained classical violinist.
Your biography says your background is classical, and that you have studied music theory, progressive rock quite often stretches the boundaries of any perceived genre and styles, by the use of odd time signatures and/or unusual instrumentation. How does that fit with your background and studies?
Well you’ve said that better than me. I’m very serious about using the violin as a new string for the band. They know it and you will hear it. The theoretical part is just a means to an end. I’ve heard lot of classical, Palestrina to Steve Reich, and technique or musical literature knowledge is not as important as the study of aesthetics. And by that, I mean the way you make something new and attractive. The way you innovate or what’s important to attend to when you’re doing something artistic. I think many people understand it without studying it. It is just a feeling. For me, taking references is a way to get there, it is not everything. You can make something epic without doing an intense research of every genre of music that exists. That can even be counterproductive if you want something very new and with your own touch. So, I take things very calmly. I would say that I take my own references in the many styles I’ve studied, but at the end of the day, many times it’s very spontaneous.
The lifeblood of many a band is live performance, are you still able to perform in Chile?
Not yet. Venues are still closed and we are going through a process called “step by step”, where cities are opening up slowly as the number of cases decreases. We will be ready when this process is over. Meanwhile we’ll be sharing some performances in the social media. So, follow us!
While the current global situation continues, how will it influence yours and the band’s writing?
That will be a part of the new album, of course. Our last single, Smile of Tears, had that influence. All people involved in the arts have felt it. I’m very sure that all of us artists have something to say about it. The loneliness and the feeling of surviving every day in a dangerous scenario is very shocking. But when the band returns to the stage, the people will bring that surviving instinct to the concerts and we will share different and new concepts with everybody. I’m very sure that this pandemic will change many things from now on.
Freedom to travel, I missed Aisles last time in London, once free to travel again, where do you want to perform?
Hopefully in every corner around the world. I think that given the situation the first performances will be here in Chile, and then the rest of South America. I hope we travel to Europe and the UK later on. It depends. I personally would love to go to London.
I liked the single, you have a fine voice. Is it difficult to perform and interpret other people’s words?
Yes, it is, but the more time I spend with my bandmates, the more adapted I feel to those feelings. The words and music are made by five other people, so I think that it suits me very well, because I can adapt very easily to different moods.
We have the press release, but how would you describe yourself?
I always describe myself as a person that enjoys having fun and enjoys being with others. The problem is off stage. I´m not as social as it looks, and I get introspective really easily. As I told you, I can adapt to different situations, but I think I’m always looking for something new. Something that could represent a way of doing things in different ways every day. I feel like I was born to be a progressive rock vocalist. I can express my inner world properly and I’m very happy about it, because I need to express what I want to.
What is your favourite Aisles track at present?
Upside Down is a song that I’ve been hearing a lot. It doesn’t represent the emotions that I usually have, but the apocalyptic feeling that it gives me is just astonishing. I don’t know how they did it, but it works so well. Of course, I like the melody, the use of the piano and the rhythms. I think that will be a very fun song to play and show the neurotic side that sometimes appears (in a good way, obviously).
Thank you Israel for your open and interesting answers, I will follow and look forward to the new material. In the meantime here is Aisles’ cover of Rush’s Red Sector A…