Sounds of the Summer: Bailen

Emily Zemler on September 21, 2019
Sounds of the Summer: Bailen

photo by Shervin Lainez

Making music together has always come naturally for siblings Daniel, David and Julia Bailen. The New York-based indie-rock trio, who now perform simply as Bailen, have been playing together since they were kids but didn’t release their debut album, Thrilled to Be Here, until this past April via Fantasy Records.

“The challenges of being in a sibling band are abundant and the benefits few, but the positives definitely outweigh the negatives,” notes Daniel. He adds, “It’s really helpful bringing your work to people who have no problem with telling you something stinks. The song always comes out better when you bounce it off the rest of the band.”

To create Thrilled to Be Here, an album that takes its cues from different folk, blues and alt-rock hues, the group went into the studio with producer John Congleton, aiming to bring an organic live sound to the recordings. Citing Alabama Shakes, Michael Kiwanuka, St. Vincent and David Byrne among their chief influences, the musicians handed the reigns to Congleton, allowing him to guide their song arrangements.

John took our recording process and turned it upside down,” says Daniel. “In the studio, we have tendencies to think really micro, slave over every little detail and take a long time. John thinks really macro—he works quickly so the records he makes are very in-the-moment and instinct-based.”

The band, who recently toured with Hozier and Amos Lee, have already started writing new music, even as they continue hitting the road in the U.S. and Canada through the new year. The main goal is simply to continue evolving.

“We want our live shows to keep getting better,” Daniel says. “We’ve been touring as a trio—a lot of times it’s just the three of us showing up to the venues, driving the van, performing and then selling the merch. One day, we will have a whole light show, full orchestra, fireworks and, yes, a merch person. But until then, it’s all about the three of us connecting with audiences, making moments and being the best live band we can be.”

This article originally appears in the September 2019 issue of Relix. For more features, interviews, album reviews and more, subscribe here.