IM SO AL OE, Daniella Nguyen

A Prescription for Loneliness: Meet IM SO AL OE

It’s not uncommon for anyone who cares about music these days to find themselves spiraling down Internet wormholes, swirling for hours deep in unfamiliar terrain. But instead of resisting, maybe once and while just keep going. Occasionally, it pays off and you stumble across that obscure artist who’s not part of any scene and only has a couple listeners, but they’re just as good, if not better, than half the artists out there powered by the hype machine.

That’s the case with Daniella Nguyen, an artist who’s so detached from the creative world that she started a project to express it, called IM SO AL OE. The art and music project began when she left her lifelong home of Moscow for university and found herself isolated in the new environment. “I study plants in Vienna, but have no friends here,” she tells us via email. “I was permanently complaining about it so much that I decided, instead of annoying everyone, I’ll start a page of sketches with the name.” At first, it was just a series of selfie collages, made up of digital drawings and pictures culled from around the web paired with music she liked. But soon a friend from back in Russia asked her if she’d be interested in writing some music to go along with the images, and it evolved into an audio-visual thing.

It’s a very D.I.Y. project, but one brimming with creativity. The songs are raw and varying, with her sing-song vocals skipping over dusty electronics. Sometimes it sounds like something Awful Records would produce, all warbling rap and weird beats. Other times it’s more like a Crystal Castles tune, angsty and clashing. Overall, it’s pretty hard to characterize, and purposefully so.

While the selfie art is entirely hers (with the occasional fan contribution), the music is collaborative. Her producer, Arthur Hodosh, starts with the beats and a couple chords on Fruity Loops Studio and Ableton, and she’ll add vocals recorded on an iPhone 4, then they go back and forth changing parts. “The idea was to make small mini-tracks in different genres based on my voice samples as an accompaniment to the sketches I make,” Nguyen explains. “Soon we started arranging all the sounds into a song-like form.” The project is less than a year old, and they ask other people for advice pretty often.

“We were even looking for someone from Brazil, just so we could call ourselves BAR (as in Brazil, Austria, Russia),” she laughs. “We’re just having fun.”

I'm So Aloe, Daniella Nguyen

Part of the reason she’s so new to this all is the lack of freedom allowed back home. “My whole life in Moscow I was officially a foreigner,” she explains. “You are limited in expressing yourself and have no room for mistakes.”

“Most of the time, it’s hard to stay true to yourself because you have solve to all these concrete problems–especially if they are connected with the government at any level–because everything is flooded with bribery, extortion, patriarchy, and hierarchy. I was deported once for administrative offenses and had to travel around the borders for almost three months. Each year, I had to prolong my student visa, and once the woman who dealt with the paperwork started to scream at me, telling me she’d send me back to my roots! I kept thinking about that for a long time. Like seriously, where are those roots?”

But Nguyen made good use of her time there, despite the challenges. She studied horticulture and ran a small community garden with elderly locals. “We fought and still fight against construction which would destroy the whole collection in the garden (almost 300 species). Now the garden is officially turning into a botanical garden.”

There were some musical efforts too: “I sang in the school choir and always loved the idea of singing together, but didn’t want to join anything there. So I started my own called the Venus Choir. It consists of people who probably had never sung before, but it was always fun, because we were singing the songs we liked.”

Now she’s using those experiences and newfound freedom for the AL OE project, and we’re all the better for it. Hopefully, once she’s not so lonesome anymore, she’ll continue making art and music.

I'm So Aloe, Daniella Nguyen

Related Articles


Nemo Librizzi: Idleness In The Wild


Alex Noyer’s ‘808’ Documentary Is a Love Letter to Roland’s Iconic Drum Machine


M.W. Bowen On the Art of Wheatpasting


Mass Appeal’s Guide to ‘Marvel’s Jessica Jones’


Weekly Mixtape Round-Up: Rick Ross, Lil Wayne, Erykah Badu, Chris Brown, and More


Best Music Videos of the Week: Santigold, Tame Impala, Mew, and More


Latest News

moneybagg-yo-still Video

Moneybagg Yo Levels Up With “Important” Video

"Tell the label, 'Open up the budget'"
Confederate Statue News

It’s Time to Tear Down All of the Racist Statues

Baltimore is the latest city to remove its Confederate memorials
dave-east-slow-down News

Dave East Releases ‘Paranoia’ Tracklist, Unveils Nas & Chris Brown Features

The project features Chris Brown and Nas
bun-b News

Watch Bun B Keep it Trill in Trumpland

Front, back & fuck you
charlottesville-both-sides Features

Both Sides Now: Where Do We Go After Charlottesville?

Searching for common ground
Music Video

PREMIERE: Twista Turns His “Disrespectful” Video Into a Straight-Up Slasher Flick

Jason Vorhees mode

Watch Pete Miser Create Paper Script Album Art

Kinfolk artist crafts his own 'Depression Era Thinking' cover
nba-2k18 News

‘NBA 2K18’ Celebrates Prodigy of Mobb Deep in New Trailer

The clip features "Shook Ones"
willie-d-geto-boys Music

How to Survive the AmeriKKKan Nightmare, A Playlist

Charlottesville is on our mind, and this is what we're listening to
nicholas-fulcher Hey, You're Cool

Hey, You’re Cool! Nicholas Fulcher

"Don't stop 'till you secure the bag"
south-park-20-years Features

Everything I Need To Know About Charlottesville I Learned on ‘South Park’

Trey Stone and Matt Parker predicted the future for the last 20 years
Daily Blunt News

LeBron James Calls Trump the “So-Called President”

The NBA star once again uses his platform to take a stand
digital-nas Music Video

PREMIERE: You Can “Hate” Digital Nas Video Now

What's in a name?
obama pretending to use a smart phone News

Barack Obama’s Charlottesville Response Becomes “Most-Liked” Tweet Ever

"Love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite"
a$ap mob walks around in their music video for "feels so good." the third single off of their upcoming cozy tapes vol. 2: too cozy project dropping at the end of august. Music Video

A$AP Mob Fights For Camera Time In “Feels So Good” Video

They debuted the track on 'The Tonight Show'
mf-doom-jay-electronica Music

MF DOOM and Jay Electronica Finally Release Their Fire Collaboration “True Light...

This is not a drill!