- 25 Jul 20
The dream pop artist talked classical music, queer self-discovery and Northern Irish politics in advance of her first major release.
Aislinn Logan’s debut EP, Look I’m Flyin’, sounds like 2020 and 1980 at the same time. This isn’t a bad thing: Its dream-pop sound is full of the semi-ironic retro twists that have catapulted artists like Grimes, Rina Swayama and MUNA to cult stardom. Packed with sweeping synths and old-school drum machines, the EP’s four tracks are fresh and timeless, begging to be played on repeat.
So it surprised me when I found out Logan’s early influences were from a different era entirely. Growing up in Northern Ireland, she says her family was “a bit like the Von Trapps.” Her dad played the accordion, her mom played the piano, and Logan herself “went to the Belfast School of Music and played music there for over a decade in like, choirs and orchestras and stuff.” With a note of bashfulness, she admits that she’s trained in “baroque and classical style singing,” and that she only discovered guitar after moving to uni in Scotland.
But Logan says that “the connection between music for pleasure and fun and release was made when I was a teenager and started listening to records and stuff.” When you hear what these records were, it’s obvious where her dream pop aesthetic began: Logan names Phil Collins, Michael Jackson and George Michael, her grin audible over the phone.
As if to announce its own influences, her new EP even includes a cover of ‘Teenage Kicks’, a 1978 hit by Northern Irish punk-rockers The Undertones. With its whispery vocals and throbbing beat, the track is one of the EP’s most fascinating. Logan took me through the cover’s history, Song Exploder style: “I initially performed it for me back in August of 2019, and obviously back then Northern Ireland was very much lagging in terms of its civil rights record; only recently we got abortion rights and gay marriage,” she said.
In response, Logan added a verse critiquing her hometown in which she sings that “back in Belfast the world is bleak.” After this addition, she says that “as a queer woman, I felt like the song took on like a different meaning for me” — she became “a bit obsessed.” When she sat down to record the cover, Logan was listening to a lot of Burial, Jamie XX and garage music. She knew she wanted to “have fun” with the production, so she spent time “playing around with synthesizers” in her bedroom and recording “trumpety noises” on her mic. The end result: “a bit silly,” Logan says, but also loaded with political meaning.
This description could also apply to the Look I’m Flyin’ as a whole. Logan says the title is “a nod to that feeling you had as a kid when you were learning to do something, and it’s trial and error, like riding your bike without your stabilisers. Like ‘look, I did it!’, and you can too.” It’s a cute image, but one with serious stakes: In the off-kilter, atmospheric title track, Logan sings her way through a rocky process of self-discovery, repeating “don’t you let them in” over and over. On the phone, she confirms that the EP’s title is triumphant, but only because “it’s taken me quite a long time to feel comfortable in my skin.”
Aislinn Logan’s eclectic and emotional debut EP is out now on all major streaming services. Check out Logan’s cover of “Teenage Kicks” by The Undertones on Spotify below.