For almost two decades, rob Hinkal and Heather Aubrey Lloyd have crisscrossed the nation as ilyAIMY (i love you And I Miss You). They have played everything from bait shops to biker weeks to clothing-optional resorts. They engage audiences with humor and award-winning narrative songs that pair an unforgettably soulful and powerful female vocalist with a percussive, clawhammer-like guitarist. Their infectious energy and rapid-fire lyricism is softened with cello and lush harmony, making ilyAIMY "a welcome jolt" and "an acoustically roiling, combustible attack on the usual singer/songwriter fare," say reviewers.
Collectively their energetic brand of new-folk has garnered honors from the Ebb Bernard Songwriter Awards, Mid-Atlantic Song Contest, Kerrville Folk Festival, the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival, Washington Area Music Awards, Rocky Mountain Folks Fest, Telluride Bluegrass Festival, National Association for Campus Activities, the Northeast & Southeast Regional Folk Alliances and more. They are three-time winners of the Washington Area Music Association Winners for Best Contemporary Folk Group and are known for combining their award-winning songwriting, tight male/female harmonies, signature intricate slap-style guitar work, ukulele, percussion and an eclectically humorous stage show into an exquisite package.
And that’s just the duo.
2019 marks the 16th year ilyAIMY has spent traveling these United States - 10 albums, literally hundreds of thousands of miles. From coast to coast and Canada to Mexico rob Hinkal and Heather Lloyd have been Living off of papercuts and string cuts, their music and their wits for over a decade. Heather is also an accomplished percussionist and supported Dar Williams on her "Promised Land" tour.
“A bone-rattling acoustic act... with driving lyrical force [and] male/female harmonies that lock in, lift, drop and pull ... And then they slow it down and rip you open.”
- Jake Stephens, On Tap Magazine
"ilyAIMY ain't your grandpa's folk music - and thank goodness. They are fearless writers and performers… Voices this rich and emotionally hard-hitting - equal parts velvet darkness, barely contained heartbreak, and hard-won, unstoppable joy - don't come around often.”
– Pat Wictor, Brother Sun
Photo by William Chrapcynski.
"Percussive, rhythmically driven guitar that freely composites fingerpicking, classical melodies, running bass lines, harmonics, & hard-charging chords. [rob's] vocals are needled & gaunt, with the jittery energy of a dockyard stray on speed ...”
Someone once told rob that what he does to his guitar is illegal in three states. They meant it as a compliment. They went on to say that "rob is that perfect combination of complete proficiency combined with punk rock 'fuck you'". And he took THAT as a compliment too.
Discovering guitar as a freshman at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, MD – rob quickly developed an unorthodox playing style incorporated slap-bass and Primus-esque strumming techniques overlaid by growling, passionate vocals.
After graduating rob worked with various bands (Common Thread, power-trio Strength in Hare, reggae act Red Zion (with singer/songwriter Andrew Luttrell), Chimaera's Bridge (with fellow singer/songwriters Audrey Morris and Syl Smith) and cover band Area 51) before forming ilyAIMY in 1999.
Of course, it wasn’t until a fateful meeting with Heather Lloyd at a University of Maryland-area coffeehouse that ilyAIMY’s current form began to evolve. By September 2nd, 2003 - they had quit their day jobs, let the leases run out on their houses, moved into a Saturn, and out on to the open road –traveling almost constantly for the next five years.
Having resettled in Baltimore, MD rob hosts local open mics and continues to do freelance illustration, graphic design and sound engineering, including recording and mixing ilyAIMY's albums "Cicada" and "Another Live". His recording credits also include albums by Mosno Al-Moseeki, The Honest Mistakes and The Silver Strings and has recently expanded into video production.
rob was playing a Seagull Spruce-top acoustic 6 string till he pulled it in half in Illinois. Then he was playing a beautiful violin-top Alvarez, but he put a hole in it in Boston. Currently he's happily married to his carbon-fiber Composite Acoustic OX. She's from Louisiana and has a thick accent and can defend herself quite well. That "laser slide thing" is an eBow. Yes he'll show it to you. No you can't have it. Yes, there's glue on it. It's the cellist's fault. rob and Kristen (cello) are married and Live in Catonsville with a cat who is a liar, but they Love him anyhow.
Photo by Heather Aubrey Lloyd.
"Heather Lloyd's voice is enough for me. Voices this rich and emotionally hard-hitting - equal parts velvet darkness, barely contained heartbreak, and hard-won, unstoppable joy - don't come around often. Sing me the phone book - I'll ask for an encore." - Pat Wictor | Brother Sun
What do you get when a recovering reporter, performance poet and fairy tale collector writes songs? Heather Aubrey Lloyd has co-fronted Baltimore’s ilyAIMY (i love you And I Miss You) for 17 years.
Wielding a powerful tenor voice that flies from velvet to growl, her strength is providing just the right amount of force, grit, softness or sweetness a song calls for. Though interested in music her entire life, Heather did little more than play coffee houses for fun while she took an eight-year detour into journalism. She reported for The Baltimore Sun, and earned her degree from the University of Maryland, College Park. That journey was interrupted and rerouted to music when she and rob met at an open mic near her college.
A fateful encounter with percussionist Rob Spectre in Providence, RI introduced Heather to the incredible expressiveness of African djembe in ilyAIMY’s first year of touring. Showing an incredible aptitude for the instrument, Heather has gone on to write a number of songs completely on the drum (like “Can You Love a Girl Gone So Long”) and has been recognized nationally through touring as the percussionist for Dar Williams on her 2008 Promised Land Tour. Fate and Lyme’s Disease lead all of us to very strange places.
With a love of R&B, chamber choir, slam poetry and non-fiction, Heather has blossomed into an award-winning songwriter and performer. She can rap and strum and drum and rip through the emotions of ilyAIMY's music.
Heather plays a Taylor 6-string and a djembe from the Ivory Coast that Sharif brought back from Africa with him, a cajon that's cajon-shaped and sometimes her brother's whisks when he's not looking. Heather is married and Lives with her family in Owings Mills, MD.
Photo by Erik Sharar.
“I was immediately taken with what I heard from her. She found sonic spaces within the songs that I didn’t know existed and nestled right in, whether she was plucking out a bassline or using a bow to coax out a solo.” -Michael Duck, The Morning Call
Kristen Jones joined ilyAIMY ostensibly just to add some sweet cello flavour to 2009's CD "A Gift for Saint Cecilia". But then she got stuck with us. Oh, that poor girl.
Kristen was already classically trained on cello when she discovered the steel pan at Oberlin College. She performed with steelbands in Trinidad, New York and the DC-metro area, and for over 10 years was an arranger and bandleader with Pan Masters Steel Orchestra. Now performing on electric cello - and focusing on more eclectic projects on both instruments - she brings an incredibly diverse musical background to ilyAIMY's sound and even knows how to... like... write the music down and stuff.
When not playing with ilyAIMY, you can find her performing with other local acts - like Lulu's Fate, Anthem Electric String Quartet, and more. She's been nominated several times as "Best Contemporary Folk Instrumentalist" and "Best World Instrumentalist" by the Washington Area Music Association. You can keep up with Kristen's other musical goings-on at kristenjonesmusic.com. She's also jack-of-all-trades over at Takoma Park's exotic instrument shop House of Musical Traditions, where she manages HMT's internet presence and workshops (and occasionally gets to exercise her Ethnomusicology degree tuning violins, ordering sitars and identifying taropatch ukuleles).
Kristen performs with an NS Designs electric cello and records with an acoustic cello built by Daniel Foster.
Also appearing on:
Lulu's Fate: The Blackest Crow https://squareup.com/market/lulus-fate
We're About 9: Future Pilot http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/wereabout98
Lea: Let You In http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/lea8
Mosno Al-Moseeki: Novella: A Love Letter To Culture Clash http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/mosnoalmoseeki
David Potts-Dupre: They Speak At Night http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/davidpottsdupre
Lilt: Little Falls http://www.liltirishmusic.com/store.html
Kristen and rob are married and Live in Catonsville with a cat who is a liar, but they Love him anyhow.
"What are those and how does he do that?"
To the uninitiated they are clackety-clackers, possibly castinets - both hands whirling and writhing through the air - Rowan Corbett is one of the finest Irish bones players in the nation, possibly the world, and that's not hyperbole - this led to joint custody with another band : the Carolina Chocolate Drops, with whom he's toured the world, so that ain't no small thing.
In addition to playing percussion for ilyAIMY, Rowan's been seeing an increasing role as one of the band's songwriters, lending his excitingly aggressive songs to the band's palette. He writes songs on guitar and banjo and is a welcome addition not only to the SOUND of the band, but to the SETLIST.
Rowan and rob metover pie. He encountered posters for ilyAIMY and wanted to see music that "sounds like the posters look". He tracked ilyAIMY down and began guesting with the band shortly thereafter. Simultaneously a friend was telling rob that "there was this GUY who plays these THINGS and you've GOT TO SEE IT!" It seems to have worked out and the synergy of the two performers has become one of the most memorable takeaways for anyone who has seen the band Live.
Having built his musical credentials while touring across the country with Renaissance Festivals and his Celtic/Irish/Progressive rock band Tinsmith - Rowan is one of ilyAIMY's most versatile members. Dumbek, Irish bones, djembe and cajon flesh out his percussion kit, but on the melodic side he plays guitar, banjo and bouzouki.
Rowan Corbett Lives with his wife and kid in College Park, MD where he does almost anything he turns his mind to.
Photo by rob Hinkal.
"Just when you try to think of what could possibly make it better, in comes the piano."
- Shea Carver, Encore Magazine
Judging from his thick brogue, Sharif is a traditional Irishman. Unless he's French. Except.... he was born in Seoul, Korea and began playing piano pre-kindergarten in Taiwan. He later picked up clarinet and trumpet through middle school in Gaithersburg, MD, and then guitar and drums while in high school in Beijing. He's also passed through New Dehli, India, the Ivory Coast and Massachusetts. Eventually, he settled back in Maryland and decided he needed to be an amazing bass player as well. Sharif's exotic good looks come from a mixture of Japanese, Chinese, Hawaiian, English, French, Scottish and a couple of Dutch genes. Really, no-one can explain the accents, and we generally try to just keep him quiet lest he say something bizarre that sullies our brains forever.
Sharif shines as a creator of texture, elegance and melody and has been responsible for reimagining a number of ilyAIMY tunes into dramatic new forms. He originally encountered ilyAIMY at a show at the sadly-deceased Year of the Rabbit Cafe where he was so enraptured with the music he trailed rob to an open mic later that week and asked to sit in. rob threw difficult songs and barrels at him but he demonstrated a fantastic capacity for improvised beauty that has made him a coveted accompanist and an exquisite part of ilyAIMY's overall sound.
When ilyAIMY's core duo of rob and Heather are touring, Sharif and Rowan have been known to perform as a duo called io. He also performs as part of the Acacia Sears Band, Dan Zimmerman's The Great Outdoor Fight, Murder of Trolls – and often with whoever can get their hands on him.
Photo by Erik Sharar.
He's kinda brand new!