The Twins: David + Daniel
The Sister: Julia
BAILEN’s otherworldly musicality springs from a very deep well, in fact, it’s in their DNA. Raised in New York by their classically trained parents (Susan Rotholz and Eliot Bailen) Daniel, David and Julia immersed themselves in the family’s diverse record collection that included Simon & Garfunkel, Joni Mitchell, Carole King and The Band.
The group’s highly collaborative songs are formed by three very different individuals who were all inspired by literature and a love of language.
Even though they finish each other’s sentences, dissolve into laughter and tell hilarious contradicting childhood stories, BAILEN’s highly collaborative songs and visceral harmonies are formed by three very different individuals. They’re inspired not only by literature and a love of language, but also a myriad of classical and pop influences. Their musician parents didn’t push their kids. “They never said, ‘Guys, music is a viable option for a career,’” Julia explains. “I think they just showed us what the life of a musician was by example.” David affirms, “They normalized it.”
The siblings’ musical proficiency started at a young age: Julia began guitar at 7, with her dad teaching her Appalachian-style finger picking. Her brothers started on violin at age 4. “I had a lot of pent-up energy as a kid and I needed something to bang on, so I switched to drums when I was 7,” David says. “Daniel stayed on violin, then he started on guitar when he was 8, and then, eventually, bass.”
Daniel and David have always played together in bands, with names including Gemini II, an ode to their birth sign. “Then we went through our punk stage at 12 and changed the name to Dead End… that band went nowhere.” Ultimately, they decided, “Let’s just call ourselves The Bailen Brothers.”
As the duo grew creatively, they realized they needed a third harmony for the types of songs they were writing. They’d joked with Julia that she would join the band once her braces were off, and, alas, that time had come. She was already writing songs and developing her own lyrical voice – one that would continue to evolve over her time at Barnard where she studied English literature.
Their first gig together as BAILEN was for the Newer Sounds music series in 2013. In 2014, BAILEN performed the first of many shows at Rockwood, a NYC showcase venue that would play an important part in the band’s burgeoning career.
Later in 2014, Daniel temporarily moved to the UK to star in "What’s It All About? Bacharach Reimagined" on London’s West End. David and Julia joined Daniel in London and performed there nearly every day for two months.
“We played 30+ shows in London as BAILEN while Daniel was doing eight shows a week on the West End,” explains David. “That’s where we wrote a lot of our record and got our live set together. When we returned to New York we began our Rockwood residency, and we were ready.”
From 2015 onward, the band has maintained an intense schedule of performances and collaborations—they guesstimate over 300 shows to date. Sofar Sounds, the intimate, small-space live event promoters, have also played a crucial part in BAILEN’s success to date with Sofar Sounds naming the band “Artists to Watch” in 2018. BAILEN have also toured or collaborated with such artists as Amos Lee, Joseph, The Lone Bellow, Oh Wonder, and Raul Midón among others.
While adept at social media, BAILEN prefer a low-tech, personal approach, in line with the band’s earthy, DIY appeal. “We just hustle really hard,” says Julia. Clearly something is working as the band has snagged significant tour slots and cultivated a growing fan base before they’ve actually released any music.
“We work really hard,” David says. “We play live a lot. Most of our fans have experienced the band in person; it’s not because they clicked on a link. And that’s how we like it.”
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