Los Angeles-based artist and producer Aly wears his heart on his sleeve in “SING ALOUD,” his contribution to HIGH FREQUENCY Volume 1. Offering his perspective as a first-generation American whose parents immigrated from India and Pakistan, “SING ALOUD” explores Aly’s headspace as he battles the tension between family expectations and the choice to pursue music.
A vulnerable rumination detailing Aly’s inner dialogue between him and his father, “SING ALOUD” grapples with the pressure to “make good on family sacrifices” serving as a self-soothing lullaby to process the difficult and often unspoken emotions associated with having dreams met with disapproval. “In “SING ALOUD,” I’m sitting with what I'm feeling, which is a sense of longing for love and approval.”
Deftly manipulated vocals and a dark, laid back r&b beat produced by Supah Mario (who has previously worked with Drake, Young Thug, and Lil Uzi Vert) sonically illustrate the ebbs and flows of his heartache. “It’s an evocative song, but it's also a reflection on my grandfather calling me a disappointment for pursuing music,” says Aly. “The lyric ‘I ain’t sacrifice so you could figure it out,’ is the ethos. He’s like, ‘I did all of this. I gave you the layup. And then you went and took a hard left?’”
As it often goes with family, the thoughts, feelings, and attitudes Aly details in “SING ALOUD” are complex. “I have a lot of empathy and appreciation for my family. They’re the giants whose shoulders I stand on. My life is only possible because of the sacrifices they've made to put me in this position. The first and foremost emotion I feel when I think of them is gratitude,” says Aly. “The relationship becomes more complicated when they want me to live my life in a very, very specific way. They want a return on their investment. They gave up basically their whole lives and moved across the world. It was an investment for future generations, and I am the future generation.”
Bearing this mentality, Aly set out on a pre-med track at Vanderbilt University. “I grew up self-identifying with the idea that I was going to make good on all my family sacrifices. I grew up wanting to do that, genuinely. But my perspective changed when I discovered music,” says Aly. “I had never known what truly loving something was until I found music. And in the face of that genuine adoration, the pursuit of medicine and making good on their sacrifices drained from my body instantaneously.”
Switching majors to make more time for music, Aly doubled down. Bent on proving himself, he opted out of partying to hone his production and mixing skills on weekends. “I would be in the studio from 7pm at night to 7am in the morning, and leave when people were going on their morning jogs.”
Over the next five years, he released over 120 songs under the moniker Lackhoney. Internalizing pushback from family, he quickly redirected the pressure towards his music’s commercial success. “My relationship with music was really dogmatic, and I didn't realize this until relatively recently. The intention had shifted and it started to feel more like a numbers game,” says Aly.
After graduating from Vanderbilt in the height of the pandemic in May 2020, Aly moved home to Miami where he trained to become a commercial pilot. If he wasn't going to be a doctor, following his dad’s footsteps as a commercial pilot was the next acceptable option, and he needed a back up plan. He then chose to take a major risk and move back to Nashville to redirect his focus to music. “I was building up flight hours and producing for other people on the side. I saved up a couple grand and made my way back to Nashville.”
What he found upon arrival felt like a paradox. His friends were throwing a house party and seemed totally carefree. “I had just left a really tense situation in order to find artistic freedom, so seeing my friends actually being free was a culture shock. The guilt of feeling like I was betraying my family's expectations was hitting me.”
With a mountain of pressure on his shoulders, the situation inflamed his inner conflict. “I'm sitting there like, ‘What the fuck. I just spent 14 hours in a car. I should not be here. This is insane. My dad wants me in Florida flying planes. I felt so much pressure, and yet I found myself in this trivial situation.”
Acknowledging the tension stemmed from the underlying friction with his family, he channeled the energy into material, writing the original version of “SING ALOUD” with Ben Pleasant and Charlie Hackemer. Aly sings: “I shouldn’t be here singing all alone. Dad hit my phone, you can come back home. Living in a shoebox, I paid on my own, while my friends doing blow singing campfire songs.”
“You can have the support of everybody else around you and yet still feel like you're standing on toothpicks instead of legs because the people at the core of your being are undercutting you,” says Aly.
Struggling to find solid ground, he turned to songwriting to help him cope. In the chorus Aly sings: “I hope you sing out loud every time I come back. Keep up with the stories I’m writing out West. Lazy Saturdays in your house when you’re resting, I know that you’re worried I’ll never do my best.” The writing process offered a hopefulness that maybe his family did have faith in him after all. “It’s like, ‘I hope you have some level of love and faith for me still,’” Aly says. “And I think that they did.”
After submitting to a Twitter contest, Aly connected with producer Supah Mario, who proceeded to provide an invaluable source of affirmation and spark to keep him going. “Mario called me when I was out delivering Postmates in the suburbs of South Nashville. I have a very distinct memory of playing the original demo of “SING ALOUD” with all the live instrumentation and beautiful vocals, and he asked me to send him the acapella. Later he sent me back this version of the song and fully changed the production.”
Playing with the pitch of Aly’s vocals and changing the vibe from indie to r&b, “SING ALOUD” took on a new lifeforce. “I'm usually hands on with everything, like neurotically detail-oriented. I pore over every detail, but with this song, I didn’t change a thing.”
Relinquishing control, “SING ALOUD” began to represent the process of letting go, and helped usher in a new chapter for Aly. Waiting patiently to release the song at the right time, Aly has since moved to Los Angeles where he lives in a collaborative environment with other musicians, while still making time to work as a pilot between sessions. He has found success in web3 as an early artist on Catalog and Sound, a member of LNRZ and Songcamp, and a frequent collaborator with artists such as Reo Cragun, Iman Europe, Clear Eyes, Mija, and bloody white.
His recent 12-track release, SWEETS 2 on Aly.works, encapsulates songs written about his pivotal post-grad year in Nashville and includes an abbreviated version of “SING ALOUD.” Offering a unique album format in the form of 30-second songs, a diverse and authentic sound, a distinct visual identity through AI-generated artwork, and a breathtaking video, Aly harnesses a new approach incorporating lessons from his past into his future. “I’m now at the point where I’m starting to detach from results. And I think that makes the music so much better,” says Aly. “If it resonates as truth, that’s the most important. For me, the purpose of making music is emotional catharsis and processing.”
In addition to serving as a conduit for his own personal growth and healing, “SING ALOUD” offers a unique vessel for collective catharsis. “Brown people—and people that have dreams, goals, and aspirations that relate to this part of that journey—have heard it and resonate with it in a very specific way, which is what I want.”
“SING ALOUD” will be released on DSPs under Aly, which marks a departure from his former Lackhoney identity. “Even though I'm past that era of my life, and entering a much more sustainable phase, those issues of the heart are still there. The message still resonates in a different way,” says Aly.
Surrendering to what is beyond his control, Aly frees himself to reach new heights. Speaking his truth while steadily pursuing his dreams, he’s only climbing altitude.
Collect Music NFTs from HIGH FREQUENCY Volume 1. “SING ALOUD,” is the seventh track to be released from NOISE, for HIGH FREQUENCY Volume 1. “SING ALOUD,” is dropping via Sound Swap on April 20 at 2pm PST.
HIGH FREQUENCY Volume 1 is a compilation album curated by NOISE, with 16 tracks released on Sound. The album features new songs from artists we believe represent the values of web3 and whose work will be essential to every music NFT collector’s set in the future.
Collect and add HIGH FREQUENCY writing NFTs to your digital library. There are 10 editions of this article available for 0.01 ETH on Mirror.