San Diego electronic duo, By An Ion – comprised of Ray Aguilar and Alex Gonzales – recently unleashed their debut EP, Violet Sky, and we are all over it! Filled to the brim with dreamy, atmospheric soundscapes and scintillating synths, there’s no emotion this duo cannot cook up.
In this exclusive track-by-track commentary, Alex shares some insights into the making of Violet Sky, along with some production & lyrical anecdotes that are too good to miss.
“Autre Vie” was written during a time in Ray’s life when he experienced a temporary illness that consequently bound him to stay at home. They say that a man’s character is best defined when they are alone and it led him to discover a specific sound that nods to peace, ambience, hope and tranquility. Ray wrote the main chord progressions roughly about a minute and half long, bounced the track and sent it to me. It was one of those things where it just clicked immediately. I came up with a vocal melody the same day and forwarded the demo back to Ray and we decided to move forward with the song. The lyrics have sort of a yin and yang concept – rebirth and re-purpose. Though if you read the lyrics without hearing the song it may appear dark but it’s quite the opposite.
Probably our favorite off this EP. We’ve always had an affinity for cinematic music so we aim to put our listeners through similar experiences as to watching a film. Some moments can become so intense and then shortly after, it cuts out to the next scene and it’s a peaceful calm. “Fenestra” is just that – a soothing serene song about hope, featuring a lot of elements that you’ll hear in our music: pianos, synths, reverbs, risers and echoing vocals. There’s a huge advantage to having two singers because we get to choose from two different ideas and approaches. 99% of the time we end up liking each other’s ideas and we get to cherry pick sections and merge them into one song. Ray really took the steering wheel on this one. It was 80% done, vocally lyrically and musically. We went to John Kunkel’s studio to finish the song in search for more profound sounds. It was of utmost importance to create drums that were unique and tailored with interesting patterns and time signatures. This helped capture that explosiveness at the end of the song.
This was the last song added to Violet Sky and it was by accident. We had this track hidden and stored away from almost 2-3 years. We loved what we had done with the vocals and lyrics but didn’t like the music. We began reworking the file and finally got somewhere. James Meays from Missing Words offered to help record guitars on it and the whole song shifted in a new direction & really helped shape what the track is today. James is a super talented guy.
“Violet Sky” is an important song for By An Ion. Over a span of three years , we wrote so many songs and went through so many phases and styles. This song was a driving tool towards finding our sound and it helped shape the foundation of our first EP – precisely why we chose to name our record Violet Sky. We recorded and produced this song at Sergio Palacios’ studio. He’s also known as Puerto Aereo and plays in a band called Ntrkrs. We chose his studio because he owns a lot of old school software, gear and toys. He also challenges you musically and makes you play the parts all the way through in one take, even if there are slight imperfections so there’s a very rewarding aspect of recording music this way. The lyrics were inspired by a scene in Interstellar where Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) is stuck between four dimensions after being sucked in through a black hole. I’d like to imagine what that experience could be like. The lyrics tell my fictional experience.
Violet Sky is available now here.