“This is just the start,” muses Aly Michalka, one half of musical duo, Aly and AJ. From their homes in LA, the sisters Aly + AJ Michalka are reflecting on the their new found sound and forthcoming music. Their energy and excitement impossible to ignore.
The duo, who have sold over 2 million records worldwide, return after a 10 year musical hiatus. Their energy completely renewed, Aly + AJ’s music exudes that same vigor- each song teaming with a slow burning restlessness that’s nestled amongst textured melodies and 808 drums, with nostalgic synth hits.
10 years prior, the girls were in a different place. “Aly and I felt personally discouraged by music in general,” explains AJ on their time away from songwriting. “We still had so much to prove to people, even though we had made a mark in the industry. It honestly was overwhelming,” she adds.
The duo are no strangers to success- they first made their mark with their 2005 gold certified debut record, Into The Rush which debuted at number 36 on the Billboard charts. They followed with their sophomore effort, Insomniatic, which peaked at number 15 on the Billboard charts. Amassing a global following and constantly touring internationally, the duo were hit with various frustrations, from projects being put on hold due to their acting careers, to songs leaking online.
Stemming from that, the girls felt the pressures of conforming to a mainstream high-gloss sound that just wasn’t them. AJ explains- “That’s not who we are – we were uncertain that we’d even be heard among the masses – we just weren’t writing that kind of music. We felt like, what’s the point?”. The duo needed time away – music no longer brought them joy, so they spent the last decade pursuing other creative projects.
“People have been wondering what took so long – and it sounds horrible – but music became an enemy to be honest. We were scared to write, we didn’t like what was coming out of our instruments – it felt like we weren’t going anywhere,” adds Aly.
After connecting with music industry veteran, Mike Elizondo (of Dr. Dre and Eminem ilk), the sisters began collaborating with Jamie Sierota (former member of Echosmith) & Ryan Spraker, their senses for music were re-awakened. With the new writing sessions, the sisters had a newfound sense of discovery and – as Aly puts it, “music became our friend again.”
“Once we were able to embrace who we were and once we started writing again these last few years, we were able to find the direction we naturally lean,” she explains. Their new direction is startlingly honest and a bold statement sonically. With their signature sound at the core of each track, the duo have experimented with wistful synths and breathy vocals.
Armed with a handful of tracks- like the yearning and forlorn, “The Distance”, the anthem you need to hear from your ride-or-die, “I Know”, and the keyed up, “Take Me” – a track born out of the frustrations of the digital age dating scene, we’re finally getting to know just who Aly + AJ are.
“We’re being authentic to ourselves,” says AJ of the new tracks. It’s working. The Ten Years EP has over nine million streams on Spotify, led by the single ‘Take Me’ which has over six million streams. The duo are releasing the single ‘Good Love’ this June, an evolution of this sound established by the Ten Years EP. “We’re thrilled where our songwriting is headed,” Aly enthuses. So are we.