Pop/rock four-piece AyOH have developed their a style all their own, enchanting listeners worldwide. Their latest EP, Dangerous Questions, was recently released to glowing reviews. With the single from their debut EP, “Out Alive,” charting nationally on CMJ, the anticipation for the success of Dangerous Questions is in high gear. With big plans ahead, frontman Avi Dell sat down to answer some not-so-dangerous questions that Planet Stereo had…
Planet Stereo: Thanks so much for doing the interview. How are you?
PS: Your new EP, Dangerous Questions, was recently released. How are people responding?
AD: It’s been kind of crazy, actually. People seem to love it. It feels like almost every day someone new arrives at our door step wanting to get involved.
PS: Do you have a favorite song from the EP?
AD: I don’t think I have a favorite, but I’m really proud of “Lion to the Lamb.” When I was writing the lyrics, they started out pretty heavy, and I was worried we wouldn’t find the musical weight for balance. But Gillis (producer) recognized our ambition for the song and fearlessly guided us through that process. John Arrotti (drums) came through with the amazing piano arrangements that supported the entire piece.
It might not be the most poppy song, and it might not ever find radio acceptance, but if people listen, really listen to the track, there is no way to not connect with some aspect of it’s message. The solemn knowledge that we were able to create something that fulfilled my creative vision is incredibly satisfying.
PS: What is your favorite part about going into the studio?
AD: Creativity. The opportunity to be endlessly creative. It’s also a very singular time. Usually we’re all worried about a million different things, but when we’re in the studio, with Steve, we’re allowed to just do music, and that’s liberating.
PS: Would you mind walking me through the creative process?
AD: It happens all different ways. For instance, right now we’re working on a new song that started with a little piano riff John wrote, and then we squashed it in with a thingy Austin had written. Then, I came up with a lyrical theme and approach. I don’t think anyone was particularly loving it, but later that night when I listened back to what we had done, I was floored at how fresh it sounded; I wrote more lyrics and last night at practice we worked out a performance structure, and now it’s a song on our set. Songwriting can happen that quickly. It’s a pretty great testament to how well we work together as a team.
PS: Was there a theme/concept in mind when crafting the EP?
AD: When we first set out to pick the songs for this EP we had about 30 to choose from. Dangerous Questions was the first tune that Steven Gillis (producer) jumped on. His response, as always, was unfiltered and sincere, “We gotta record that song.” From there, the process began and the song went through a number of revisions over a period of about 6 months. As for the album name, it just felt like the most honest depiction of the kind of songs we were writing at the moment. We were asking questions…dangerous ones.
PS: How do you manage to find time to write new material between life/touring?
AD: The four of us are constantly writing. The real question should be, “how do you guys make time for life with all the songs you’re writing?” Haha.
PS: What would you like people to come away with when they hear your EP?
AD: I think more then anything else, we’d like people to feel like they connected. We want Dangerous Questions to bring out emotion in people. Whether it be happiness, sadness, or something they can’t even explain. As long as they feel they have connected with the music and are left with some kind of emotion, we have done our job.
PS: How did you get involved in music?
AD: We’ve all been playing music since a very young age. It wasn’t really choice… just something we had to do, you know?
PS: Can I ask: Why the name AyOH? What does it mean, if anything?
AD: Before we were a band, we were just dudes playing music, writing songs, sharing ideas, and this one song I brought to the group had this great refrain at the end that went “Ay-OH, Ay-OH”. We really clicked with this song and it started feeling like we had a clear direction. We were like, ‘okay, we can build a band around this sound and this song’.
The song is now called “Out Alive” and was the first single off our first EP “Take it to the People”. It charted nationally on CMJ and has received regular play time on a few local radio stations and college radio across America.
PS: What was the first album you ever bought?
AD: With my own money? Rhythm of the Saints – Paul Simon
PS: In music, especially with social media coming into play, which do you believe to be more important: quality or likeability?
AD: Quality will always win out over likeability.
PS: Any last words?
AD: Thanks you so much for taking the time to meet with us. We’re so happy that our music is making an impact.