The New York-based band BAILEN seemingly materialized out of nowhere earlier this year, but as it turns out, the band of siblings has been hard at work writing and performing for years. Though their debut album Thrilled To Be Here was released in late April, BAILEN has spent the last three years touring around the world and honing their sophisticated 70’s rock-inspired aesthetic.
“Before releasing the record, we played all over the US multiple times as well as Canada, the UK, and even Taiwan,” says Daniel Bailen, who sings and plays bass in the outfit. “It’s cool to see all the leg work we’ve done coming through as we finally release music to the world.”
With a sound built with lush 3-part vocal harmonies that doesn’t attempt to hide its Fleetwood Mac influence, BAILEN’s debut caught the attention of Rolling Stone, Billboard, and Stereogum, and earned the band a modest, but growing, following. Thrilled To Be Here blends and updates folk, rock, and alt-country into thoughtful songs designed to please the masses.
BAILEN’s most obvious music-making strength is their knack for writing and executing vocal harmonies, a skill the siblings began developing early in their youth. According to Daniel Bailen, there wasn’t a specific moment that he, his twin brother David, and younger sister Julia realized they had a strong musical connection. “There was never that ‘aha’ moment,” he says. “It was just how we grew up.”
With a guitar and cello-wielding, folk songwriting, record collector of a father and a mother classically trained on flute, the Bailen siblings were immersed in music from the very beginning of their lives. “We learned sixties and seventies tunes from our Dad playing them to us, so we thought half of the Beatles tunes were our Dad’s tunes, and our Dad’s tunes were Beatles tunes. We were very confused,” says Daniel Bailen.
The diverse musical patchwork the Bailens were exposed to as kids inform their songwriting process today. “Every song is different. Sometimes a melody comes first, sometimes a lyric. Sometimes it starts as a joke, sometimes it starts as a beat. Most of the time we start our ideas separately, work it out and then come together to get it to the finish line. It’s always good to bounce ideas off other people, and siblings are never afraid to tell the other what they really think.”
Daniel Bailen goes on to say that literature played a large role in crafting the music from their debut. “Something Tells Me,” BAILEN’s first single and the first song the band ever wrote, was partly inspired by John Steinbeck’s East of Eden. “In this digital age where people have trouble communicating outside of social media, it can be very difficult to open up to someone new, let alone fall in love with someone new,” says Daniel Bailen who composed the song’s lyrics. It’s a song about communication, but specifically the act of reaching out to the opposing side of an argument and listening instead of attacking. It’s an apt theme for the despair and tumult associated with everyday life in 2019.
On the band’s website, singer and guitarist Julia Bailen describes first records as efforts that take a lifetime to write. Now that their debut is out and audiences are discovering BAILEN, it will be fascinating to hear where the siblings take their meticulous, collaborative sound next.
BAILEN performs at LuLu’s Downstairs in Manitou Springs, CO on Saturday, October 12th.