- 12 Oct 21
Aonair is fast becoming one of Ireland's most exciting up-and-coming pop acts. With bold, '80s-inspired production, his latest single 'Bad Decisions' heralds a stunning new sound. Interview: Tanis Smither.
Your sound has evolved quite a bit with the release of your last two singles. What inspired the shift to that big '80s production?
A lot of elements, it's always been a sound I loved. Bands like The Blue Nile, Tears for Fears, Cocteau Twins and modern bands like The War on Drugs have been huge influences for me. They unashamedly capture the drama of the themes they express. So many of those great '80s bands create a universe of their own within the music, and their narrative fits into that, bringing you in.
I think that feeling really appealed to me during lockdown - I felt the need to escape into making music. With these tracks, and the rest of the EP, I wanted to create something that also lived in its own universe, and could transport people there each time they put it on. It was me leaning into that escapist urge. The songs feel really authentic, which has opened the door for all of the new material I'm working on now.
What can we expect from your upcoming EP?
The initial concept was to produce an EP that sounded like a tape you'd find in your dad's attic from a really cool, forgotten '80s band. That element is definitely still in there, but it's been blended with more modern sounds and themes. It flows from vulnerable soft moments to huge '80s drums, lush synths, guitar solos and everything in between. Thematically, it's an EP that questions a lot of how we live our lives now, the transient nature of our dating culture, the 9-5 routine that we all fall into, and dealing with past trauma and mistakes.
They were all issues we were confronted with during lockdown. That dramatic slowdown and shift of perspective has really had a profound effect on so many people Ð it forced us to quantify the things in our lives that we truly care about. It also certainly highlighted the things we didn't care about, which I think has enabled so many people to take control of their lives, and point them in a more meaningful direction.
You also wrote, mixed and played everything yourself on 'Bad Decisions'. Did the song come together quickly?
I was working every day on the EP in my Granddad's house in Rathmullan in Donegal, and because I was so immersed in recording and producing, the new ideas tend to be fleshed out really quickly. I think I had the structure of the whole track done within a day.
The sweet spot is an elusive thing. As a self-producer, it is very hard to know when to stop. Over time, I've realised that 100 good ideas are better than one great idea. So it's always about not being precious or perfect. For me, knowing when it's done always comes from other people; I'll share it with my brother, friends and other artists and ask them what they think. If everyone is into it, then I know it's done.
'Bad Decisions' is out now.