Growing Young: A Summertime Trilogy by A Billion Young

Photo by Rene Marban

Photo by Rene Marban

Last November, Chicago production duo A Billion Young released their debut project, Glenwood, to much acclaim. The dance duo brought the Windy City on their feet as they collaborated with video collective Verluxe, bassist Carter Lang, trumpeter Will Miller, singer Teddy Jackson, and more.

While Glenwood was their proper full-length debut (contributing These Days writer Jake Krez covered the backstory very well for Viper Magazine), they had been in the “scene” for some time, as they fully produced an EP with Towkio as well as their own EP, Randomwork.

But, after the hype and praise of Glenwood in November, outside of some shows and DJ sets and production assistance on outside projects, they remained rather dormant in regards to official releases. Jake Osmun snagged clips from YouTube and made an entire visual piece to accompany Glenwood, but we only saw a snippet of it. There was talk and hearsay of more music, but we didn't get anything. Fall turned to winter, winter to spring, spring to summer, and the duo resurfaced when the city heated up and humidity came into effect.

Last month, seemingly out of the blue, A Billion Young released the song “Morning.” With the hashtag #tbt, the song was noted as being from 2014. Perhaps a scrapped track from Glenwood, perhaps something they crafted at the end of the year. Either way, it was a pleasant surprise for ABY fans, especially given the relaxed instrumentation and powerful vocals courtesy of Kimberly Lauren.

In an unreleased interview that staff member Eric Montanez conducted with them last year, they spoke a bit on their compositions, dismissing that they are full songs and not simply instrumentals. “We don't want to make an instrumental and call it a song,” Nate said. “It has different parts. We want it to be more like a band. We have certain instruments and sounds repeated [but] we want to do them in a different way each time like a band with a guitarist and drummer. Usually when we work with other people, we are with them for the process of it, so I guess that's why we include our name in the title of the track, too.”

Calling their first song of the summer “Morning” might provide insight for the duo reaching a new dawn, a new day for the group to return and rise. But, as Lauren sings on the track, “I don't know what I don't know.”

Shortly after “Morning”, ABY gave us another song “Move On”, this time with the credit simply stating “2015.” The five minute synth party progresses smoothly and hosts plenty of switch ups; “Move On” is not a standard loop of normalcy. Instead, it is a unique diversion into the world of dance and electronica, of hip-hop elements and club embraces.

To keep the function in motion, most recently A Billion Young let loose “Summer (Is Almost Over)”, a closing of the season, a changing of the times. “Summer” is full of hip-hop and juke elements, of layers upon layers of complexities, complete with a subtle Kanye sample thrown into the mix. It's a blast to digest and analyze.

The three songs, their only three official tracks of 2015, were released so closely together that they might be able to be pitched as a summer trilogy: three pieces of music to reassure you that A Billion Young is still alive, to remind you of how talented members Nate and Kun truly are.

While “Morning” was credit as 2014, and “Move On” as 2015, the most recent track “Summer (Is Almost Over)” states “Growing Younger.” Perhaps this is the name of a forthcoming project? The play on words here is brilliant. Hopefully we will find out the answer to this question sooner than later. Here's to hope that one of my favorite Chicago duos will continue providing this kind of strong dance music, one East Room DJ set at a time, one unique composition at a time.