It's fitting that it should take a while to get the two brothers behind the hushed, soulful music of Los Angeles' Inc. out of their shells. They spoke in soft, halting voices over the phone during a conference call last week. It's a big contrast to the smooth, sophisti-pop neo-soul meets dream-pop stylings of their music.
Guitarist and lead vocalist Andrew Aged sings in a breathy, quavering, almost whispered voice. But his guitar work has a shiny, resonant, clean liquid luster with beats that echo or swing. Meanwhile, Daniel Aged brings throbbing bass work to the mix and a second set of pipes that add an extra layer of luscious quality to the mix.
Now they're headed to Miami for a debut live appearance. They promise a special late-night performance at The Stage. But first, you have to get them to loosen up a bit.
Crossfade: Since you guys are brothers, is it hard or easy to collaborate?
Daniel Aged: I'm not sure, you know.
Well, what makes it work for you guys?
Andrew Aged: Umm ... I'm trying to think ... Help me.
Daniel: The music and the love.
Don't you guys get into serious arguments?
Daniel: Yeah, but it comes down to the real stuff. The real stuff outweighs all of that. That stuff's there, but the music's deeper, so we try to focus on that.
That makes me wonder. How old were you guys when you got into your instruments?
Andrew: We were 11 and 12. First, me, Andrew [the eldest], on the guitar and then Daniel on the bass, and then from there we kind of became interested in other things as well, vocals for myself and production and music at large, we became more interested in time.
And what were you doing before you picked up your guitars as brothers?
Daniel: Going to the beach with our mom and going to the river by our house and watching Sesame Street and stuff like that.
I read this article that could not stop bringing up '80s-era Prince as a comparison. How do you feel about the comparison?
Andrew: That's kind of maybe a little short-sighted. It's kind of like, OK, it's cool, but the 80s is not really a thing for us. What can you do? We don't take the press stuff to heart because we just do our music, and we can't really be dependent on how people perceive it. It doesn't really have much bearing on us, I guess.
I'm curious because I saw the "Black Wings" video, and I read these comparisons to retro soul and all that stuff. But there's also something more ethereal going on, something almost spooky about the music.
Andrew: Yeah, exactly. I mean, that's part of the music. We're taking so many elements of music that we find interesting. On that song in particular, we're coming more from a place of interjecting something like the feelings of grunge music. Because, when we were young, we had an anarchist feeling and attitude toward music where there was no one thing that defines music. We feel that that song, even the whole album, is an ethereal approach. So that song's a good example where we're taking elements like grunge -- 'cause of their spirit, not on an aesthetic level. We're trying to take the spirit of their music and let them kind of fly together.
That's real interesting because the bass hook could fit with a grunge-like song.
Andrew: We listen to different stuff, like Slowdive and shoegaze and dreamy music. There's just so many elements, and Daniel listens to all kinds of music, so it's hard for us to kind of think about comparisons at all.
I think that's what attracted me to your music. There's something hard to pin down about it. A lot of times you hear about these younger bands doing this retro-soul thing, but I don't think you guys are doing that. You're doing something a bit more subversive than a lot of neo-soul. It's not ironic either.
Daniel: I think you're right. We're trying to get the soul out of the body. If we can get the spirit of what you get in church, if we can get that spirit, but if we can also get free spiritedness in another way. Like, for us, when we were growing up, the music that was going on, the youth music, if we could create this whole free-spirited sound and mentality, that's what we're doing, I guess.
Well, I'm thinking about this other song on the album, "Angel." It has this almost absent guitar solo toward the end.
Andrew: Yeah ... What do you think, D, about that?
Daniel: Yeah, the guitar. It was sort of like, well, there's a few guitars going on. One that we sampled into an MP3 and then we play, and then there's another one where we basically put the amp on 10, put a mike in the room, and Andrew played, and we let it feedback. Maybe that's what it was, the feedback part that you're talking about?
Yeah, but it's also a very meandering solo. When I think of maybe like an actual '80s-era record, it would be in your face. But what you're doing is sort of the opposite.
Andrew: Yeah, kind of a lot of it is kind of like implying something.
So it's almost like discreet or ambient music?
Andrew: Yeah, yeah. Like ambient music, you can feel so many feelings, but it's something you feel in the absence. You think through that absence and fill the void.
How do you pull off this music as a duo live?
Andrew: Well, Daniel plays keyboards, and I'll play guitar. We both sing, and we play with track, and traditionally, we've been playing with two drummers or keyboards and a drummer but for many shows. But in Miami, we're gonna play by ourselves.
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Daniel: Yeah, it's a little more intimate but kind of ecstatic. I don't know. You'll get to feel, like, a connection between us.
Inc. With Total Freedom. Saturday, July 20. The Stage Miami, 170 NE 38th St., Miami. The show starts at 9:30 p.m., and tickets cost $12 plus fees via flavorus.com. Ages 18 and up. Call 305-576-9577, or visit thestagemiami.com.
Follow Hans Morgenstern on Twitter @indieethos.