Jamie Aaron Aux releases “These Girls” video and talks Seattle queer music scene

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Multi-instrumentalist Jamie Aaron Aux, notably of XVIII Eyes and H is for Hellgate, just released her first solo album, Velo Scene. A pleasantly surprising detour into the land of psychedelic, electro-pop from the seasoned rock veteran. I managed to steal a few minutes from her to get the background scoop on the album, life through the lens of a queer musician, and a first look at her video for “These Girls” (directed by Kayla Tabb).

AfterEllen.com: Tell us a little about your process, both writing and in the studio?
Jamie Aaron Aux:
I knew I wanted to do something that was more computer-based, more electronic, with some R&B influence. The guitar is my main instrument. I’ve always written for the guitar first. So I worked on half a dozen songs trying to get my brain to switch gears, and not starting from guitar, instead starting from a drum track or starting from keyboard track or something. Once I got comfortable with that, which was really difficult, surprisingly, I would use my tools and I’d start with some kind of rhythm track and layer things on top of that. But often I’ll just have a topic in mind for the song I want to write based on whatever’s going on with me in the moment, or whatever I’m listening to, or a cool thing that I’m inspired by. And then I usually do the writing and producing in one shot. I’ll work something out, and once I feel like I have something I’ll record it right there.

AE: What were your major inspirations for the album?
JAA: With what was going on with my life when I was writing these songs I wasn’t able to have much of a voice in my community, from my perspective, in my relationships, and this was an outlet to subtly or not so subtly say something. I am definitely turning to sounds more and also noticing playing live the kinds of things that people engage with. I’ve only played this stuff out a couple of times and it’s all really new, versus playing in a band you have your band mates and you can kind of talk to each other and get a feel for it.

But when I go out to play now I’m really pretty alone. I’m like, “Oh God!” I didn’t have any sort of sounding board for this so hopefully people will respond to it. I really like having that sort of creative control, but it is a pretty big risk to go out there and play for my friends and be like, ” OK, this is why you haven’t seen me for a few months, what do you think?” I think also because my friends and the people in the music community, in Seattle, at least, know me as a technical rock guitarist and to come out with something kind of like electro-pop I’ve heard, “Oh that’s totally not what I was expecting…also it’s really great.” So it seems to be a good response so far. In my career as a musician I’ve had a hard time finding an audience for my music, so that’s a hope and a reason why I’m trying to reach out to gay and queer audiences, to say, “Hey this is a really a homo album that was born from a really dramatic breakup and really dramatic beginning of another relationship, so maybe you can relate.”

jamie

AE: What is exciting you right now in the Seattle music scene?
JAA: My friend is in Wishbeard and they’re the first people that come to mind. They’re these four really cute genderqueer people that do kind of psychedelic, spacey, soundtracky stuff that’s really great. And I’m perpetually enjoying Erik Blood, S (Jenn Ghetto) and THEESatisfaction. Then there’s this festival called Mo-Wave that’s gone on for a couple of years, that this booker and an owner of the queer bar Pony started. It’s a two or three day festival that gets a lot of queer musicians, both local and national acts. It’s really cool to pull everyone together and to see bands playing there and to be like, “Oh my God I had no idea you guys existed or that you were a queer band, that’s so great.” It offers a lot of visibility to what is otherwise pretty dispersed around town.

AE: I know that you are an openly out musician and that your music not only doesn’t hide, but celebrates your sexuality. I wondered if you’d talk a little bit about what it still means to be brave enough to address one’s sexuality in the music industry, and if you find that “queer music” is different than “other” music.
JAA: I think that’s something I’ve thought about because like what do queer people listen to? Like they just listen to music. Yeah, there are little subsets, like there’s really anarchist and punk queer stuff, but now other than Tegan and Sara and independent stuff there’s not really a queer music front happening. So I think people listen to music they like to and maybe those artists happen to be queer and they’re picking up on that. I think for me it’s that I look so gay, it would be inauthentic in the first place writing and putting out this thing that is really personal and then be like ‘Oh no it’s not necessarily about gay things’. This album comes from me and I am who I am.

AE: Now that the album is out, what comes next?
JAA: Right now I’m working on visuals for my set, and that’s something I’ve never done either. I’m realizing the newness of all this and the newness of playing alone and performing in a different way and having to look different on stage. I’m feeling that excitement again. I’m hoping to get some Gay Pride performances around the country and I would like to tour and take some time on the road. But the next thing I really want to work on is generating more music and just keeping that momentum going. Just creating and performing.

AE: What’s one thing we can’t find out about you currently through vigorous internet “research”?
JAA: You probably wouldn’t be able to find out that my senior year of high school I won the Montana State High School Golf Championship.

Follow Jamie at @jamieaaronaux.

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