Inside Love In Exile’s “DIY punk egalitarian style” jazz free-for-all.
THE FIRST TIME Arooj Aftab, Shahzad Ismaily and Vijay Iyer performed together was in June 2018 at New York venue The Kitchen.
“I remember when we came off stage,” says Iyer. “Shahzad put his arms around the two of us and we all just sort of huddled for a while, initially just in silence. Then he said, ‘I'm not sure what just happened, but I'd like to do more of that.'”
His wish was granted. Following more live performances comes Love In Exile,a record which features Aftab on vocals, Ismaily – who has worked with everyone from Yoko Ono to Bonnie ‘Prince' Billy – on bass and Moog, and Harvard professor Iyer on piano and electronics.
“We booked a studio in Manhattan with an engineer that Arooj had worked with for
Vulture Prince, split the cost three ways in a kind of DIY punk egalitarian style and went in that day,” recalls Ismaily. “It was like a classic old jazz style record, where it [took] like maybe four or five hours.”
The title, says Ismaily, “is a very beautiful phrase that speaks not only to the movement of people in and out of their countries of birth but also the exile we can feel within ourselves. That's how I end up experiencing it, because around the time of recording, I was going through a very painful separation.”
For Aftab, it was about her “self-exile” from Pakistan “to find the right environment for my work to thrive” while Iyer speaks of the experience of diaspora. “You know that literally means ‘being scattered', right? But the other thing about it is finding each other.”