Emerging musician Aislinn Logan told David Hennessy about her debut EP Look I’m Flyin’, why Northern Ireland has lagged behind in terms of civil rights and how she had to cancel gigs when she got sick with what she thinks was Covid-19 just before lockdown.
Described as ‘dream pop’ London-based Belfast singer-songwriter Aislinn Logan’s debut EP, Look I’m Flyin’ is getting received positively for its unique sound with the single What Everybody’s After getting played in Irish radio.
Logan admits it has taken her some time to feel comfortable in her own skin and the title refers to that feeling of trying something while not being sure if it will work.
Aislinn told The Irish World: “I’ve had quite a few false starts trying to find my feet and now I feel more confident about what I’m trying to achieve. I guess I’m kind of saying, ‘Look, I’m managing here. I’m trundling along. You can too’.
“Like a lot of musicians I have struggled in the past with self-doubt and questioning, imposter syndrome and just kind of getting to the point where I’m a little bit more free of those things which is great. I’m really a lot happier in myself than I used to be and more confident and less judging of my abilities. I’m just having a bash.
“The title track, Look I’m Flyin’ is kind of like a war cry against your inner demons. The past few months have been pretty traumatic for a lot of people. If just two people could find solace in that track that would be job done for me.”
Hot Press described the EP as, ‘Packed with sweeping synths and old-school drum machines, the EP’s four tracks are fresh and timeless, begging to be played on repeat’. This is even more impressive considering it was done working from home.
When lockdown came in and Aislinn was, like so many of us, confined to her home, she threw herself into writing and recorded the tracks in the home recording set-up she has in her bedroom. She has been honoured to hear the tracks have helped others through uncertain times.
“I’ve had a lot of people tell me they’re digging the tracks and a couple of people have even actually said, ‘It seems to mean this thing..’ And they come up with a completely different narrative. They’ll be like, ‘This is what it made me think of’. Or ‘I related it to this thing that happened to me’. And I love that. That’s your goal as a musician or any art field, to give something away and someone can prescribe their own context onto it. That’s any musician’s goal, I think.
“An album might have meant something, for example Rumours meant something completely different to Fleetwood Mac to the emotion it brings up for me when I listen to that music. Just hearing that that’s happening for even a handful of people is pretty incredible.”
The EP also includes a cover of Teenage Kicks by the Undertones although the lyrics have been changed to take on a more serious meaning that reflects on Northern Ireland’s civil rights. Gay marriage and abortion only came to the six counties last year when Stormont was not sitting at the time.
“That kind of came about kind of by accident, I just did it for a gig midway through the year last year. I guess it took on a different meaning for me because I’m a female and the lyrics are already so gendered. For me it took on more of a political meaning especially because I’m from Belfast and only recently did we progress in terms of civil rights.”
Aislinn, who is gay herself, added a verse that addressed Northern Ireland’s need to be dragged into the modern world with the line, ‘Back in Belfast the world is bleak’.
“I wrote that little verse myself and then I really liked performing it and it just stuck around.
“It’s a funny old place. Unfortunately, because of the political climate, it often has been a bit forgotten and I have to say I am a little cynical about how progressive society in Northern Ireland is because in the south, you guys voted for equal marriage by popular vote whereas we never did that.
“We have historically always had the DUP in the seat of power, they’ve always had the majority. The DUP, of course, are historically a supremely homophobic party so it just worries me a little bit because it wasn’t the will of the people that brought that about. Actually, we might be a little further behind than people think. It’s kind of Westminster says, ‘You guys need to fall into line because it’s getting ridiculous now’. And that’s pretty much why we got gay rights and women’s rights.”
That said, Aislinn is extremely thankful Northern Ireland has moved on from the dark days that used to be characterised by hatred.
When asked if it is in a much better place now, she says, “Oh yeah, 100%.”
Aislinn then goes on to pay tribute to a man who worked so hard for that peace and died last week.
“John Hume passed away yesterday and he was like a giant. He was a giant in terms of bringing about peace. I’m very lucky in that I was born at the turn of things getting better and I never had to withstand some of the things my parents did and some of the trauma they had to go through. I think as a generation we hold that peace pretty dear.
“I think peace is still very fragile in Northern Ireland though, maybe I’m a bit of a cynic. Things are a lot better than they used to be but I don’t think we’re quite right just yet. I wouldn’t get too ahead of ourselves.
“The majority of people don’t see difference, they see more in common but unfortunately there are still bigots. Like anywhere.”
Although previously based in Hackney, Aislinn has just moved to Hampstead and will have been in London five years next month.
“I feel pretty settled now but I don’t think London’s forever. I think maybe in four or five years, I’ll probably consider moving out of London. Nowhere except home home will be home for me. I’m quite tied to Ireland. I love going back, I go back fairly frequently to see my mum.
“I would get involved in sessions a good bit. I used to go down The Auld Shillelagh, it was just around the corner from my old flat. I miss that. I miss live music in the pubs like a lot of us. I’ve got a few friends who are from Dublin and showed me the ropes. They’re in a band called Moons Deluxe. They’re fantastic musicians. I learn a lot from them. I guess you could say I have a few mentors in London who happen to be from Ireland and we have sessions.”
When the pandemic really hit, Aislinn had to cancel some gigs as she got really sick. She now sees this as a ‘blessing’ as she thinks she had the virus but thankfully her symptoms were mild.
“I had a few gigs planned when things started to get bad. I actually got sick. I think it was four days before we had this St. Paddy’s Day gig planned in Hackney. I just thought it was a cold or whatever. I felt really bad because I’ve never really cancelled a gig before. My throat was really sore, my head was banging. I had a fever.
“I’m pretty sure it was corona because I was not the only person in the house who got sick and we weren’t able to get tested. I felt really sick for five days and it was then that I should have been playing that gig so I was really glad I called it off when I did. I didn’t think that’s what it might be, things (with the virus) didn’t seem like they were going to get as bad as they did.
“It’s a bit of a blessing in disguise. I feel really guilty saying that because it is a very difficult time for a lot of people but I’ve actually revelled in getting that time that I didn’t have before to be able to get to that stuff that has been sitting in my folders waiting to be finished for a wee while now.”
Aislinn speaks with pride of her sister Eimear who is a midwife in London and has, like all NHS workers, been inspirational during the whole pandemic.
“We’re very close myself and my sister. I’m very, very proud of her. She’s an angel. It’s a difficult time for people but our Eimear always has a smile on her face and she loves what she does.”
With her father playing accordion, her mother playing piano and her sister playing violin, Aislinn grew up in a very musical family. In fact, she has been known to describe them as like ‘the Von Trapps’: “Music has always just been a part of my life. In more recent years it’s become something that I’ve realised I love doing. I absolutely love doing it. It’s as simple as that.”
Aislinn studied law in Dundee before making the move to London but has not been inclined to drop her day job to pursue music and dislikes the snobbery she receives from people in the industry for that.
“I guess I’ve maybe been a bit too straight-laced for that. I was starting to write songs at uni but I didn’t ever feel like either was in competition. I still feel a little bit like that today. I’ve been called a part-timer in the studio because I have a job as well as doing music. I disagree with that as a principle. I know a lot of people think that way, in music in particular, that we have to just pull pints or work in coffee shops and do music.
“I just disagree with that. I think the minute you start pressuring your art to pay the bills, you’re gonna make sh*t art. That’s how I look at it. I don’t really mind having a day job and if the dream happens and music was taking off to the extent that I could just focus on that full-time, of course I would do that in a heartbeat.”
The EP Look I’m Flyin’ is out now.
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