Ian Curtis and Grace Jones, among others, Light Asylum is the project of vocalist Shannon Funchess and multi-instrumentalist Bruno Coviello. Funchess developed her powerful contralto over the years by singing in the choir of a Southern Baptist church as a child, and adding Odetta, Nina Simone, Alison Moyet, the Cocteau Twins, and Bauhaus to her list of influences as a teen. Funchess moved from Mississippi to Europe and then to Washington state, where she performed in underground rock bands along with like-minded groups such as 7 Year Bitch before moving to New York in 2001. There, she became an in-demand vocalist for TV on the Radio, Telepathe, and !!!, of which she became a touring member; she also played with the electroclash outfits Durty Nanas and tha Pumpsta & Derriere. Meanwhile, Coviello grew up in New Jersey and developed an early fascination for house music that he fed by sneaking to New York to see Danny Tenaglia. He also performed as one-man synth pop band the Dreamies before meeting Funchess while both of them were in bands touring with the rap act Bunny Rabbit; after bonding over their shared love for Clan of Xymox, they began writing and recording together. In 2010, Light Asylum self-released their debut EP, In Tension, which featured the single "Dark Allies"; in May 2012, the group's self-titled debut album followed on Mexican Summer.