Rather known and highly appreciated also round here, Houston, Texas dream pop band Angel Aura born out from the romantic and musical journey undertaken together by Wendolyne Barrios and Nick Bailey, sharing guitar, vocal, and lyrical duties. Inspiration flows from a mutual “desire to create music less bound by the confines of a clear cut musical style” and supporting their local music scene.
ANGEL AURA just dropped the visuals and the digital version of their Live Streaming Session, comprised of 5 brand new songs, through Left Home Records, along with some big news about the development of the group and the addition of two new members, Sam Enklemann (drums) and Daniel Gaona (bass). Let’s see what Wendolyne Barrios and Nick Bailey have to tell us!
What are the origins of Angel Aura?
On February 14, 2018, we formed the band with the intention of being a duo and having live members fill in for drums and bass. We’d left the bands we were previously in, Shallow and Daze, and started our own project in search of something more authentic to ourselves. Thus, Angel Aura was formed.
In the beginning, we wrote everything from lyrics, melodies, drums, bass.. whatever you heard in previous Angel Aura was just us, Wendolyne and Nick. Except for the drums, Sam recorded those for us since we aren’t necessarily drummers, but we wrote the parts and had demos with MIDI drums and had him track those on a real kit. As far as the songwriting and formation of the band, we felt like we were on the same page when it came to everything we wanted to write. The process was extremely easy considering we’d already been dating for around a year at the time we’d started Angel Aura.
What brought on the necessity to bring in two new members to the band?
We, Nick and Wendolyne, were kind of over ourselves in a sense. Personally, I was like “Okay, Nick and I have been dating, we write music together, we know this.” I wanted more than to write music with my boyfriend. I guess, I’d kind of gotten over the whole “Nick and Wendolyne experience,” as Nick likes to call it. I wanted to be in a band, with my friends. I wanted to create with them and grow with them and I think I can say with confidence that that is now what we’re doing. I couldn’t be happier with where the band is. Choosing to bring Danny and Sam into the band as collaborative members was an easy choice once I’d brought one of the new songs to them during a practice.
Was it hard to scrap the work y’all have done so far in lieu of a new collaboration?
Absolutely. We had a whole album worth of songs that we were and are still extremely proud of and most importantly, that we feel strongly connected to. Those songs will be released eventually, but it was definitely difficult to make the decision to leave that behind. Come to think of it, it wasn’t really much of a decision. It just happened. We were getting ready to start the final steps of the album when COVID hit, while simultaneously beginning to write new songs. There was a little bit of overlap which I can only describe as a balance scale, but instead of balance, it was one path versus the other.
Talk about the evolution of your sound, both musically and lyrically.
Musically, we started out just trying to channel our inspirations into something new. We did a lot of experimenting with guitar tones to try to make something very distant and washed out. Samsara is a perfect example of that, where we have big jangling guitars with huge reverb sounds that become overwhelming with distortion. The new direction we’ve been going hasn’t removed any of the elements we had before, but we have dialled some aspects down and accentuated others. We focused more on songwriting that feels more visceral and primal, as if it’s channelled from somewhere beyond the musician and the listener, like an underlying feeling that has always existed. We think it maintains shoegaze elements, but we’re hoping to create something that just resonates with people, shoegaze fan or not.
Lyrically, I think it’s a bit more abstract and definitely more simplified. Our first songs were much more music-centred, and the lyrics, while genuine expression of what we felt, took a bit of a backseat. The album we’d been working on touched on a lot of very personal and emotional subjects, including death, alienation and despair. What we’ve been working on definitely has some darker elements, but ultimately is very positive and ethereal. We’ve shifted the way we look at lyrics and vocals in general in shoegaze and hopefully have grown to make something much more mature, yet relatable.
Did your original theme of Spirituality via your Mexican Indigenous Culture change during the transition?
This is an interesting question considering that was never really my intention. I think it comes off that way because there isn’t much representation of this in music in general, much less shoegaze. It’s an expression of my identity that I didn’t hide or alter to fit into what might be perceived as typical in shoegaze, and that hasn’t really changed and never really will. I’m a spiritual Mexican woman and that will always be a part of me and my art.
Tell us about Houston then the Texas Shoegaze scene in general, before and during the pandemic. How do you see the future?
Houston doesn’t have a whole lot in terms of shoegaze or shoegaze-adjacent bands but what we lack in quantity we make up for in quality. Same goes for Texas as a whole, we have some of the best shoegaze bands in the world here, must be something in the water. As far as the future goes, we see a lot of new bands popping up all the time that are gravitating towards sounds typically associate with shoegaze, and it’s looking great. 2020 has seen splits, EPs, and albums from Texas shoegaze bands, and 2021 is only going to bring more. We’re looking forward to playing shows again with all of our friends and making plenty of new ones as well.
What are some recent inspirations that added new facets and nuances to your sound?
Nick has been mainly listening to a lot of Fleeting Joys and Amusement Parks on Fire lately, as well as Khruangbin, Lacing, Rumskib, True Widow, Grivo, and Duster.
And I, Wendolyne, have been enjoying a lot lovesliescrushing, William Onyeabor, LSD and The Search for God, as well as a lot of traditional Mexican folkloric.
What can we expect from Angel Aura in the near future?
I think you can expect us to keep taking it day by day. We are in no rush to get anywhere or be anything. Things will come as they will. We can wish and say what we want to happen, but given the state of the world, we aren’t holding our breath too long. We are humans before we are musicians. We have a duty in this world to be on the right side of history and with Black Lives Matter and COVID affecting everyone, we are trying our best to figure out how we can be of help to our community and are hoping to be a part of the collective healing. Music is everything to me, but it doesn’t mean I can pretend that I am not suffering like all of those who are. I am here with them and we are here together. Angel Aura will continue, with no real plans other than to continue fulfilling Self. We hope everyone can get down with that.
WL//WH is pleased to Premiere the five-track live session showcasing the newfound efforts via fellow Texan independent label Left Home Records. Let’s take a look!
Moody purple accents fuse with static psychedelic overlays to shimmer and dazzle atop a new 4 piece live performance set against the metro backdrop of an electric inner-city subway flow, spinning in metallic auras and a vast array of colorful guitar pedals for plenty of shoegazing bliss.
Hazy, glistening layers of guitar distortion and ominous bass line resonance fuse around energetic drum beats with clashing cymbals forming an electric fuzz around dreamy male vocals falling helplessly in “Wander”, before picking up the pace with the urgent six-string melodies of “Part II.” Heavy, droning textures pierced by Wendolyne’s sweet ethereal vocal atmospherics tense in the agony and ecstasy of uncertain times in “U Wait”, then dive into the raw viscerality of “Ever’s” bleak harmonies that sway in daunting confusion, before culminating in the most intense track so far, “Bruja”, where the newfound maturity and collaborative efforts bleed into the collective consciousness of heartfelt compassion.
The digital version of Angel Aura‘s “Left Home Session” is available on Left Home Records’ Bandcamp.
Keep up with Angel Aura / Left Home Records: