Musical duo, Aly & AJ, who have sold over 2 million records worldwide, recently returned after a 10 year musical hiatus, with new track, “Take Me“. The song was received with critical acclaim from major outlets like Billboard, InStyle, Allure, Refinery29, BuzzFeed, Playboy and more, generating over a million streams in its first week, with MTV enthusing, “Dreamy, anthemic…It’s perfect pop.”
Today, the duo arrive with the bewitching visuals for the video, produced by visionary director and screenwriter Alex Ross Perry (Listen Up Philip, Queen of Earth), with cinematography from the talented Sean Price Williams (Good Time). With the streets of Los Angeles as the backdrop, the video features appearances from actresses Amanda Crew (Silicon Valley) and Madeline Zima (Twin Peaks), and actor Josh Pence (La La Land) who fall prey to the musical duo’s blood lust.
The sisters added, “Staged and paced by Alex Ross Perry (director) and Sean Price Williams (cinematographer) in a midcentury home at odds with vampiric life, both pushed the video into the genre territory of our 80’s dreams as funneled through the minds of Chris Horan (stylist) and Elissa Ruminer (hair and makeup) with inspiration and armor from the clothing of Harris Reed.”
Director Alex Ross Perry shares the story behind the visuals for “Take Me”, noting – “When Aly&AJ reached out to me, blind, on Instagram, I assumed there had been some mistake. Nobody I had ever met before could possibly want to work with Sean Price Williams and myself badly enough that they would fly us to Los Angeles and agree with our insane idea to shoot a music video on standard 16mm film. Turns out, this was just a sign of their collaborative nature and the beginning of a process that creatively volleyed back and forth, much like my back and forth flights across the country.”
He continues – “The opportunity to shoot in Los Angeles for the first time, in a wonderful location that I could never dream of having access to (and just up the road from the house where Sharon Tate was murdered) was one I couldn’t imagine passing up. Shooting a vampire themed video is difficult for somebody like myself who ceases to function after eleven p.m. but the enthusiasm and positivity of Aly & AJ motivated the entire crew and resulted in a video full of images I am incredibly proud of.”
“This is just the start,” muses Aly Michalka, who, along with her sister AJ Michalka, exude an excitement impossible to ignore. Their energy completely renewed, the track, “Take Me” exudes that same vigor – it’s teaming with a slow burning restlessness that’s nestled amongst textured melodies and 808 drums, with nostalgic synth hits.
10 years earlier, the girls were in a different place. “Aly and I felt personally discouraged by music in general,” explains AJ on their time away from songwriting. “We still had so much to prove to people, even though we had made a mark in the industry. It honestly was overwhelming,” she adds.
The duo are no strangers to success- they first made their mark with their 2005 gold certified debut record, Into The Rush which debuted at number 36 on the Billboard charts. They followed with their sophomore effort, Insomniatic, which peaked at number 15 on the Billboard charts. Amassing a global following and constantly touring internationally, the duo were hit with various frustrations, from projects being put on hold due to their acting careers, to songs leaking on line.
Stemming from that, the girls felt the pressures of conforming to a mainstream high-gloss sound that just wasn’t them. AJ explains- “That’s not who we are – we were uncertain that we’d even be heard among the masses – we just weren’t writing that kind of music. We felt like, what’s the point?”. The duo needed time away – music no longer brought them joy, so they spent the last decade pursuing other creative projects.
“People have been wondering what took so long – and it sounds horrible – but music became an enemy to be honest. We were scared to write, we didn’t like what was coming out of our instruments – it felt like we weren’t going anywhere,” adds Aly.
After connecting with music industry veteran, Mike Elizondo (of Dr. Dre and Eminem ilk), the sisters began collaborating with Jamie Sierota (former member of Echosmith) & Ryan Spraker, their senses for music were re-awakened. With the new writing sessions, the sisters had a newfound sense of discovery and – as Aly puts it, “music became our friend again.”
“Once we were able to embrace who we were and once we started writing again these last few years, we were able to find the direction we naturally lean,” she explains. Their new direction is startlingly honest and a bold statement sonically. With their signature sound at the core of each track, the duo have experimented with wistful synths and breathy vocals.
“We’re being authentic to ourselves,” says AJ of the new tracks. If this is just the start, you should stick around to see what happens.