Q+A: 5 minutes with bohemian musician AISTÈ

AISTÈ has catalysed a personal musical renaissance. Her new single ‘What’s Going On’ throws the status quo into doubt, tapping AISTÈ‘s existential side to explore themes reminiscent of the age of Woodstock, that is, akin to the ponderings of live-wire acts who gave their all to their art and message. Artists like Jimi Hendrix and The Beatles come to mind, with their unconventional yet attractive aesthetic and socio-political perspectives now synonymous with the zeitgeist of a generation. Embodying this spirit, AISTÈ promises to deliver her debut album, The Theory of Everything, on vinyl and across platforms on the 19th of May. 

Let’s find out more about this rising talent:

Stream / Download: AISTÈ – ‘What’s Going On’

Set the tone for us. Why the arts?

Since early childhood, I’ve had a pull to channel. To be honest, I believe all of us are like this. Only some have the guts to act on what’s received and follow where the stream is pulling. When it’s called ‘the arts’, it makes it sound quite institutional. I guess, in some regard, it is. To me, Art encompasses every possible medium that assists in developing a connection-conversation with the Invisible. Anything that turns invisible into visible, even for a short moment, is worthwhile. After all, all life is about trying to ‘catch the moment’. This human experience excites me and causes great awe. It feels bigger than me and so spills over into my music. There’s so much joy encoded in the songs of this album.

Which comes first when you’re producing – the sound or the idea?

How this album was written was it all came together at the same time. There was a feeling in the air, and the music was so overwhelmingly beautiful and entrancing. On that sunny day, all we did was follow the sound, but that’s how we got the structure. The rest of it was professionally recorded later, and I also took my time to write the lyrics. I had to feel them out. I didn’t try to be poetic or come up with intelligent innuendos. I felt them out. Simple human stuff. That’s what we’re best at.

Does your material feature any collaborations?

Not at the moment. But I hope to work with Eric Burton from Black Pumas eventually. I admire him. He also told me that he thinks my voice is great.

What’s on your current playlist?

  • Minnie Riperton – ‘Les Fleurs’
  • Jungle – ‘Talk About it’
  • Jimmy Ruffin – ‘What Becomes of The Brokenhearted’
  • Cleo Sol – ‘Spirit’ 
  • Dusty Springfield – ‘Ain’t No Sun Since You’ve Been Gone’
  • Aretha Franklin – ‘Until You Come Back to Me’
  • The Belmonts – ‘My Sweet Lord’ 
  • Enchantment – ‘My Rose’
  • Natalie Bergman – ‘Shine Your Light on Me’
  • Black Pumas – ‘Oct 33’

Tell us about the chemistry you have with your fans on stage.

I have yet to perform much. But from what I’ve experienced, I get pretty explosive, and people seem to join in joyfully.

What techniques do you experiment with to get your original sound?

As this album was written in a day, I finalised the production using the iPhone voice memos from that day.

I’m a fan of DIY recording. I record whatever I find with whatever I have at the given moment. Much audio in the album is my actual iPhone voice memos from the day I created the entire album.

I’m also a fan of real instrument recordings. I’m obsessed with pianos; wherever I live, I always find myself picking free giveaway pianos from the Facebook marketplace in my area. The album has at least six different pianos recorded from all over Europe.

Drawing inspiration from Woodstock and the ‘60s counterculture, this album has heavily influenced my use of recording techniques reminiscent of The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper era.

Take us through a day in the recording studio.

Light incense. Jam on whatever ideas we have brought to the studio. Share tracks that inspire us. It’s always different and exciting ‘cause you never know where it’s going to take you at the end of the session. I’ve been surprised many times!

Was there a specific moment in your life where you thought, “this is what I want to do”?

As far as I can remember, this was all I ever wanted to do. I was certain of it. The reason it took me so long to act on it was because of the time I overheard my mom’s conversation with her best friend. I was around ten years old. Her friend told my mom she should do something about me because she thought I had a natural gift, but my mom swiftly shot her down, saying “she will not be a musician ’cause it doesn’t pay”. That got stuck in my head, real deep. That’s why I ended up focusing on the top academic performance and not my dream. Luckily, after graduating from university, I came to my senses and answered the yearning of my soul.

What do you keep close by while you’re playing a set?

Water and the drummer.

Any emerging artists on your radar?

Joy Crookes, Cleo Sol, Jungle.

What gets your creative juices flowing?

I meditate every morning as well as journal. Documenting inner-outer worlds daily keeps me searching. Then, I find that life itself sends hints if I’m tuned in enough to ‘get it’. These moments I treasure greatly and later try to inhabit them in my songs and melodies. 

Take us through your collection of gear, tech or software that accompanies your creative expression.

So when it comes to gear, I’m a big fan of vintage instruments, particularly pianos. At the moment, I have three of them that I use regularly in my creative process. Last year, I snagged an original Hammond Organ off of eBay, which has been a real gem in my collection. As for mics, I rely heavily on my Shure SM57 and Sennheiser MKH416 shotgun mics. They’re incredibly versatile, and I use them to record pretty much everything from vocals to guitars to pianos and even stomps. The sound quality is top-notch and I’m always blown away by the results. When it comes to processing my audio, I’m all in the box. I’m a big fan of Ableton and I rely heavily on Waves plug-ins. I find that they really help me to achieve the sound I’m after, whether it’s adding warmth and character to my recordings or creating interesting effects and textures. Overall, I think it’s a pretty simple setup, but it works really well for me, and I’m always excited to see where it takes me creatively.

Any side projects you’re working on?

I am passionate about maintaining a healthy mind and body. Currently, my friends and I are exploring options to open an online business that sells the latest research-supported supplements to promote longevity.

How have you refined your craft since you entered the industry?

I’ve fine-tuned my ear for recognising catchy melodies. Also, I believe that I’ve finally found ‘my voice’. I did that through the only method available to man: I put in the hours.

Break down the news for us: what can we expect from you this year?

This year will see three AISTÈ singles along with three accompanying music videos. The full album will be released in May and will be available in vinyl format. Currently, I have four gigs scheduled in London, with one of them being an album launch performance at The Paper Dress Vintage on May 9th. Another album launch concert is scheduled on May 24th at Vasaros Terasa in Vilnius.

During the summer, I am hoping to perform at various festivals. I have already confirmed my participation in Galapagai and am actively seeking other opportunities to perform at festivals in Britain as well.

Famous last words?

If you’re high enough, the Sun is always shining.

AISTÈ Tour Dates:

 9th May – Album launch event – Paper Dress Vintage, London

11th May – Album presentation concert – Strong Room, London

24th May – Album presentation concert – Vasaros Terasa, Lithuania

10th June – O2 Academy Islington, London

Listen to ‘What’s Going On’ below:

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Image credit: Kipras Varaneckas