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Interview

Aquila Young's 'Closer' Draws Out Memory and Observations


The musician and visual artist observes the world around her, interpreting its elements into her sound. Her latest single, Closer, is deeply unsettling. The soundscape is comprised of sonic textures through vibrant synths and eastern percussion and gritty hip hop drums. We speak to Aquila Young about evoking curiosity, and what it means to pursue her visual and musical identity in Asia.

Aquila Young's 'Closer' Draws Out Memory and Observations

by SAND Magazine

March 02, 2019


How would you describe your practice?

My practice involves observing the human experience and reflecting that through sound and vision. Music is my platform. It is also the soul of my personal experience.
My visuals are an extension of that, moving my work towards a place of discovery. Through words, sounds, tones and textures, I practice uncovering human emotions and what lies deep within.
What’s your approach to weaving visual art with music? Are there possibilities that you feel are still untapped within the contemporary music industry?

I’ve always had a strong sense of imagery that filters into most aspects of my music. Often, visual ideas emerge during the writing and recording process. I like to experiment with tones and sounds to create a soundscape of an underlying mood, constantly merging it with visual ideas to create something unique. Visually, if it can convey the musical idea well, then it’s going in the right direction. These two components are somewhat separate but they come together to explore the endless possibilities of the world.

What are the key steps you’re taking in the process of developing your sound as a multi-disciplinary musician in Asia?

I’m always listening and looking out for new art forms and artists that push the boundaries, even if ever so slightly. As my sound has evolved over time, I’ve always experimented with new tones and textures to build up a palette of my own, whilst exploring visual ideas and styles of production that really define the essence of an experience.

Like any medium, there’s always a heavy process of trial and error until it can all finally come together.
Born and raised in Australia as a Singaporean-Vietnamese, were there any societal or cultural influences, movements or happenings that have forced you to think deeply about your work?

While my influences growing up have always been from the western world, over time I have been uncovering the roots of my eastern heritage. My cultural movements are increasingly overlapping to represent a sense of East meets West. It opens up doors for me to look at how music and art are experienced across different regions, what it means to people of different backgrounds and what the cultural implications are.

How would you describe the soundscape of Closer? What were some considerations when bringing your sound and writing together?

The soundscape of Closer is built on vibrant synth layers featuring wailing sirens, eastern percussion and elements of 90s hip hop. The song is about feeling empowered, so it was important to capture a sense of strength and boldness within the sound. There’s an intensity in the wailing sirens to really draw that out.
There’s a lot of bottom end and moving bass that gives the song a strong sense of firm grounding. The introduction is much sparser and more pensive with the stripped layers. 
All in all, do you feel that artists should possess the sensibility to respond or relate to their surroundings in their work?

Yes, art is a reflection of the human experience which is informed by a number of things. Our surroundings influence how we perceive the world and how we respond to it. I feel that we all innately possess this sensibility and when we connect with it, great things happen.


Aquila Young's sound can be described as ambient – swept up in rolling drums, resonant vocals and dreamlike synths. She is moved by vast landscapes reflective of her travels and thirst for adventures. This motif of power and strength emulates throughout her persona and song-writing; her name itself translated in Latin to ‘the eagle’. 
Her 2015 debut single, ‘Vagabond’, was a bold, rise-above-the-ashes track. Released independently, the track has amassed successful results on Spotify, paving the way for a coveted and debut live showcase at 2016’s BIGSOUND, performances at Jungle Love Festival, The Gold Coast Music Awards, and the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
More information at aquilayoung.com. Listen to ‘Closer' here.

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