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Aili announces hotly anticipated debut album Nandakke?, shares full album details

Posted on 26 Jan 2024

A kaleidoscopic sonic riot, Nandakke? is the hotly anticipated debut album from Japanese-Belgian duo Aili. Featuring 10 tracks of surreal electro-pop, joyful electronica, house music and more, Nandakke? is a euphoric album that sees Aili Maruyama and Orson Wouters more than fulfil the promise of their acclaimed debut EP.

Recorded over the course of six months in Orson's studio, packed full of vintage synths, Nandakke? captures the spontaneous spirit and creativity of those sessions. Exchanging riffs and rhythms, bouncing sounds and samples off each other, Aili and Orson would let the music take them where it wanted. The result, an album full of wild ideas and bold, playful experimentation.

More than anything an exhilarating feeling of discovery courses through Nandakke?, leaving you never sure where it will go next. One minute a pulsing electro-pop number featuring Aili's dad discussing his takoyaki (battered octopus) recipe, the next an explosive high energy workout song like Up & Down.

Certainly Aili was surprised to find herself singing in her own unique version of Japanese again.

"I thought that I was done with that after our debut EP, but apparently not as I speak even more Japanese on the album!" said Maruyama. "Every time we were in the studio these words would just tumble out. It's a complicated language but I just love to play with it.

“In many ways I'm an outsider, I left Tokyo aged 7, so there's a lot I notice as someone who is not a native speaker and it doesn't always make sense, there’s a lot of mistakes in it. But in a way that sums up the whole philosophy of the album and how Orson and I work together.”

That notion of duality, a sense of belonging but feeling apart, of being between two worlds and inventing your own captures the spirit of Nandakke?, itself a Japanese word that roughly translates to "Well, what was it?".

"It's something you say when you're looking for a word, like you know it but have forgotten how to say it. That's literally how I communicate with my dad the whole time," Maruyama explains. "The main feeling I have when I go to Japan is that I know the language, I can speak it, but part of me still feels like it doesn't have all the vocabulary. There’s a gap there that nandakke has always filled for me. All the lyrics come from that place, that seven-year old trying to speak Japanese."

Whether Aili’s singing about the language she invented with her father over the years to bridge the gap between them (Nandakke?), the idiosyncratic Japanese relationship to fashion (Fashion) or riffing on children’s playground songs (Yubikiri) the result is a remarkable album that defies easy categorisation.

Bursting onto the Belgian scene in 2021 with their acclaimed debut EP, Dansu, its lead track spent 8 consecutive weeks at the #1 spot of Radio 1’s VOX list and saw the band nominated for Studio Brussel’s De Nieuwe Lichting (‘New Generation’) award. Since then Aili have appeared playing live on the Belgian TV show Roomies, been tipped by the likes of Rolling Stone, become regulars on tastemaker stations like KEXP and KCRW in the US and Nova in France, toured across Europe and, just recently, played their first sell out shows in Japan. 


1. Aili - Nandakke?
2. Aili - Babychan
3. Aili - Yubikiri
4. Aili - Fashion
5. Aili - Ichibansen
6. Aili - Tako Yaki
7. Aili - Up & Down
8. Aili - Gari Gari
9. Aili - Oyasumi
10. Aili - 東京 2023


Label: Eskimo Recordings
Format: LP with obi tag & insert // Digital
Cat no: 541416667324
Release date: Feb 23, 2024