Q&A: Dance-pop duo LaLonde reminisce on sibling bond and music influences

The band takes inspiration from their Indian and Arabic cultural backgrounds and visits to their grandparents’ house.

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The LaLonde band released its newest single, “Mistakes,” last month. (Photo by Nina D’Agostini, courtesy of Aden LaLonde)

Yuna Baek, Contributing Writer

LaLonde is an Orange County, California-based brother duo consisting of Aden and Deven LaLonde under the artist management company Eterna Music Group. Aden is a junior in the University of Miami’s music business program, and Deven is a sophomore in Belmont University’s music technology program. They debuted their first EP, “Midday Mirages” in September 2020, and released their newest single, “Mistakes,” last month. 

After listening to ’90s alternative music, the LaLondes were motivated to start a band and taught themselves to play the guitar and drums. Both brothers’ musical journeys began when they put their hands on a piano at four years old. Gradually over time, the duo’s interest in songwriting, recording and performing culminated into a profession that would change their lives. 

Since they established their band, they have performed at local venues in their hometown, Miami and Nashville, and expanded their music into pop and dance genres. They ultimately hope for people to come together and become “comfortable with reality” by listening to their music. WSN sat down with Aden LaLonde to discuss his musical journey, and what’s next for the duo.

The following interview has been edited for length and clarity.

WSN: What is “Mistakes” about?

LaLonde: “Mistakes” is about coming back from a relationship with somebody you screwed up. You made a mistake in the relationship and you regret it, but it’s the process of trying to live with those mistakes that you made. When you get to the chorus, it explains you’re scared to do anything else because you’re scared of making that same mistake again. 

WSN: What was the songwriting process like for “Mistakes”?

LaLonde: I initially wrote everything on guitar — it might have been for an assignment — but then I turned it into a song that I wanted to pursue. One of my friends at the university, who’s a producer, and I met at his house to hang out, and I showed him the guitar part and we instantly started working on it. I’d say he had a little bit more hands in the production side of it than my brother did, but my brother had hands in the songwriting process.

WSN: Do you remember your first-ever performance and what that was like? 

LaLonde: Yeah! We played at this bar when we were in seventh or eighth grade. It was called The Harp Inn, and there were a decent amount of people there because I remember just going crazy telling my friends, my family and everyone to come. It’s crazy because I have some of the videos on my phone and I watch them every now and then. It’s just nice to see that those videos can stick with you for the rest of your life. You see a starting point, you see the progression, and that’s the best part about that. 

WSN: Where have you guys performed? 

LaLonde: I’d say the bulk of our performance experiences were during the beginning of my high school career. When we were back home together, we played at venues like House of Blues in Anaheim and Whiskey a Go Go in West Hollywood. We played at the OC Fair a couple times and a lot of local restaurants, bar situations where it was more casual, but those were honestly even more fun because they let us do a little bit more of what we like to do. Since we’ve been in college, the performances have been a little bit more difficult to coordinate with him flying down or me flying down there. But I recently have performed a couple of times in the last month. I performed at this brewery in downtown Miami. 

WSN: In your interview with Shoutout LA, you mentioned that your Indian and Arab identities really influenced your musical practice. Could you talk about your cultural background being implemented into your songs? 

LaLonde: My brother and I identify more with the Indian side of our background. I remember we would be at our grandparents’ twice a week when we were kids. We would go to either a restaurant or an outing with our grandparents, and they’d just constantly be playing Hindi music in their car, and me and my brother would be sitting in the back. 

A lot of those melodies, everything that was involved in those songs, really resonated and stuck with us for when we started making music. Very subconscious levels of memory that we have of sitting in the back of that car, remembering a lot of those songs, and we’re just drawn to that sound. We really want to make music that has that same level of emotion because we were affected by that emotionally. It has connections to the way we feel about our grandparents. It has connections to the way we feel about our family, how it was formed and everything, and definitely carrying that with us is something that we want to do. 

With the Arabic side of my background — it’s probably been five years since I really started listening to Arabic music — I saw the similarities between Indian and Arabic and thought it would be a really cool tie to try and combine those two genres in the best way that I could. Those genres of music are probably the ones that resonate most on the emotional level with me and my brother. We also want people with those backgrounds to feel included, especially in the United States. That’s kind of the mission behind why we want to do this.

WSN: When you and your brother are working together, how do you know when a song feels complete and is ready to be released?

LaLonde: If I’m feeling something when I’m listening to a song and I’m bopping my head like this, and then I look over and he looks at me and he makes this face — that’s why I work with my brother because I can’t do that with anyone else. If you’re siblings with someone, you know there’s some kind of telepathic communication that you have just from living with each other for so long. Knowing when I look at him and he makes that face, I know we’re on the right track and I know that this song is worth working on for a longer amount of time. 

WSN: What has been your most significant achievement throughout your music career?

LaLonde: I’d say the most significant achievement on any level is just that moment where we look at each other and realize we’ve achieved something that we saw our idols achieve. Me and my brother were so invested in certain artists and looked up to them so much. Obviously, we had our parents as excellent role models, but we had these musicians as exterior role models, especially in what we wanted to do because our parents didn’t play music. But when we looked up to them and then we started performing and creating music that we were proud of, that was the biggest accomplishment.

WSN: Who is your biggest role model or inspiration?

LaLonde: It’s hard, it changes every day. But on a rhythmic and production level of music, I’d say for both of us is Kaytranada. He has shown me and my brother a lot of different techniques and how to deal with rhythm and dance music. As far as songwriting goes for me, I’d say Elliott Smith is one of them. And one of my professors, his name is Craig Carothers — he works with me every week on skill sets with songwriting; he’s definitely one of my role models, too. 

WSN: How did you discover your music style and direction?

LaLonde: Our music style changes often, and it just depends on what music we’re listening to, because obviously, no one really comes up with original content. Everything is based on what you’ve experienced, so it’s about broadening what you experience. That’s how we get a unique sound that really resonates with you as you listen to a lot of different types of music. You experience a lot of different emotions and things that trigger a certain amount of inspiration for wanting to affect someone else. 

WSN: How do you define music, and what does it mean to you personally?

LaLonde: I always felt this in my heart whenever I started writing music, but there’s a person named Megan Eddy. She was the choral director at Sage Hill, my high school. She told me one time we had a meeting together, she said music is only bringing something to life. That’s all it’ll ever be in its most simplest form.

It’s bringing something that you make, that you see, that you feel, and it’s bringing it to life in any context. I seriously boil it down to that definition every time I write something, because you can have a super cool or eclectic guitar part, but if you’re not making music with it, then you’re not doing anything. You’re not affecting anyone. You have to bring it to life. You have to live in it in order for it to be music.

Contact Yuna Baek at [email protected]