AL LAY & AIMEE LAY-Together but Separate Brother and Sister release complementary EPs Manhattan Beach, Calif.-Aimee Lay's "Suncatcher" and brother Al Lay's "Change" reflect the individual styles of shared musical influences and common life experiences. "We feel we have a unique perspective as sibling singers/songwriters...being that our heritage and our experiences have made us in some way, Siamese souls," Al says. Al and Aimee came up with their album concept, the co-production of individual albums, during an emotional family trip to the place in which their parents met; their mother's native country of South Korea. Their parents had not been back in more than three decades, since the time of their marriage. Their mother, a child during the Korean War, came to California with their Chicago-born father, a chemical engineer at the time, while another war raged in Vietnam. The inter-racial couple had a hard time being accepted both in America and in South Korea. Their mother, in particular, found it difficult to adjust to a new way of life in the U.S. "There was racism around us, no doubt," Al says about the joining of the two families and of growing up at the time. "There was a lot of heaviness that seeped into us as kids. At the time we didn't know what it was." "We have a very close relationship with our parents," Aimee adds. "We didn't have a particularly bad childhood, but it was a heavy one. We were dealing with this huge culture clash and generation gap as well, being that our parents both came from a very different time and place." Aimee and Al found expression and escape through music. Despite their four-year age difference, the two listened and discovered music together. "We fell in love with the same type of music at the very same time. Most kids discover rock n' roll through their parents. We introduced rock n' roll to them," Aimee says. The Beatles were, by far, the pair's biggest musical influence, and they listened religiously every Sunday morning to "Breakfast with the Beatles" on the radio. Sixties music in general influenced them most. Other artists shaping their musical taste were the Beach Boys, David Bowie, Neil Young, the Faces, the Stones, 60s soul groups, Paul Weller, the Jam, as well as Chrissie Hynde, the Velvet Underground and PJ Harvey. "We got into music that we're still heavily influenced by at an early age together. So our perspectives couldn't be very much different even if we tried, but our way of expressing our outlook on the world is at times yin and yang" Aimee says. Their first musical collaboration came when Al was 15 and Aimee was 11. "I played the cereal box," Aimee says of their first recording session. "We didn't have a shaker!" Using whatever equipment they could find around the house, the two recorded their first co-written song, "My Boyfriend's Moving Away", a classic girl group-esque song, with equipment bought at Radio Shack. Aimee continues, "Al hooked our mom's blow dryer up to a melodica to create an organ drone, using the inner tube of a toilet paper roll to connect the two...pure genius." "Whether she wanted it or not, she was an indentured session player," Al says laughing. Aimee admits she enjoyed it. The two continued to collaborate, either playing or singing on each other's projects, including Al's first solo album, "Life", and the self-titled album recorded by Aimee's band, the Lost and Found. With Aimee's band broken up and Al writing new material, the two needed to figure out their next step. It was appropriate, they say, to plan out their current project during their family trip. Al says, "It was the result of much soul searching...us finding this path, and it solidified in, of all places, our mom's hometown of Pusan in South Korea...which is why it was so clear...this vision we set forth."
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