It was a hot summer day when I met Aeon. She radiated a light I had never seen. Eyes that said more than hello, a voice that captured a room, and a smile that has seen centuries. In her words we have a chance to go deep with the innovating artist known as Aeon Fux.
JJA: Although currently a resident of Washington, where were you born and where did you grow up? How has this shaped you?
AEON: I was born in Washington, actually! I’m a certified Washingtonian, which is pretty weird. I lived in Michigan and Kansas briefly as a kid, but I was pretty much born and raised in Western Washington. I moved around a lot as a kid, and I think that really shaped my ability to stay connected with people in different ways. It also affected my independence, I was alone a lot and had to find ways to entertain myself; the interests and hobbies I cultivated as a youth definitely played a big role in shaping who I am today. Obviously the cultural impact of growing up in a predominately white area played a part as well, but thinking about who I am, I’m not sure how much differently I would have turned out had I been raised elsewhere.
JJA: The name Aeon Fux is more than just a cute reference, what's behind it?
AEON: Aeon Fux started as a love letter to the past, present, and future; I envisioned this media driven, dystopian cyberpunk future, but realized that we’re already there and have been there for a hot minute. My namesake aired on MTV’s Liquid Television segment, and was a tale of a femme fatale in the future aimed at young adults in an uncertain era. As Aeon Fux, I wanted to play with this idea. In this strange time we are simultaneously obsessed with and repulsed by sex and technology, and often times the two are linked very closely together. We will show men being shot on television but people breastfeeding in public still face ridicule. I wanted a name that would have to be censored if it was said aloud on television or radio. The idea of a mechanical, censoring *bleep* in my name says a lot about the current time period we are in. In it’s ideal and purest form, it’s a play on anonymity versus visibility, censorship and vulgarity, nostalgia versus futuristic. In its most crude form, it’s funny.
JJA: Living in such a predominantly white area, in the age where anyone can read a Tumblr blog for 10 minutes and declare themselves educated, how does this affect you?
AEON: The way that it has affected me has changed over the years. There was a point in time that I subscribed to a ‘colorblind’ ideology, despite facing racism in some form every day. I had to really sit down with myself and process everything that I have gone through as a black person living in the PNW, and in America in general. My lived experience shaped and changed me, and for a while, I tried to sweep it under the rug in exchange for being accepted by my predominately white peers. I think a huge majority of black folks go through a similar journey, especially those of us growing up in an area with mostly white people. A lot of people refer to this as being ‘woke’, but it’s a really played out word at this point and doesn’t serve as a catch-all for being aware of the injustices that happen around you. I feel like being ‘woke’ implies that you’re not still trying to learn and grow and keep your heart and mind open, maybe that’s just me…but I digress. So many of us have gone through the experience of realizing just how racist our peers are. It seems like every time something traumatic happens to the black community, I have to remove more white people from my friends list. It’s bittersweet when people show their asses in that way, but I’d rather know their true feelings as soon as possible. It can be a lot harder irl versus url, because a lot of the racism I’ve encountered here has been while I’ve been alone. This ranges from having slurs screamed at me/being mocked by neo nazis to microaggressions like strangers touching my hair or fetishizing me. It comes in all forms and you have to be aware of it no matter where you are.
JJA: As odd as it is to say, the media is a dicey thing. Have you ever felt taken advantage of by it? Or perhaps tokenized? Is there anything you would like to add to this?
AEON: I feel like my relationship with the media is a bit like a relationship with a Sugar Daddy. It’s mutually beneficial, I play shows and get to do interviews, which I feel extremely lucky for and I in no way want it to sound like I’m ungrateful for the opportunities I’ve been given. But at times it does feel strange. With all of the socio-political turmoil surrounding black people in this country, I do feel rather tokenized sometimes. I wonder if publications have a checklist that’s like, “well this person is black, queer, afab, nonbinary, and mentally ill, if we write about them no one can say there’s not representation!” I’m beyond thankful for the exposure I’ve gotten, and for the amazing people I’ve been able to meet in the year that I’ve been performing live. But I do worry that sometimes the idea of me is getting booked, not me as an individual. These identifiers are apart of me but I’d like to think that it’s my music that speaks for itself. I don’t always feel comfortable with the amount of questions I get asked about how hard it is to be black in america by white people. I think these topics are incredibly important and need to be talked about, but it’s heavy shit and sometimes I’m just not feeling it. I don’t think that white interviewers realize that these are things that have to be processed long after the interview is over. They oversimplify a lot of things that aren’t simple, things that I can’t really answer. I wonder if they see a difference between my personal opinion and the opinions of a group of black people, and I admittedly feel a bit cynical when I’m bombarded with those types of questions. I feel like I get asked about it so often because they’re like “we don’t know the next time we’re going to talk to a black person, so we might as well ask this one everything at once.” It can get tiresome.
JJA: What are some things you draw inspiration from? You're a creative lyricist to say the least. Did you read a lot when you were little?
AEON: I was definitely an avid reader growing up. I was always interested in natural science, so I read a lot of nonfiction and loved memorizing facts I’d learn. Most of the fiction I read incorporates elements of horror in some way; I think that writing is one of the best mediums to present horror in and it’s easy to find an author that resonates with you. I read a lot about monsters, myths, and urban legends growing up as well. I was as obsessed with the supernatural as I was with science, and those interests really stayed with me into adulthood. I guess you could say I have a general interest in the weird or grotesque, but I find beauty in a lot of things that might fall into those categories. I definitely like to sing about my niche interests, often because if I can’t find a song about something I want there to be a song about, I’ll write it. Musically I try not to focus on any particular style to draw inspiration from, but I do find metal a constant source of inspiration. Though I obviously don’t make metal music (yet!), metal shows are my favorite shows to go to and the intensity of the atmosphere is something that I love trying to channel into the music I make.
JJA: How did you get into singing, a voice like yours is quite special. Were you born with this gift?
AEON: Thank you! I am of the firm belief that people aren’t just born with their talents, despite how many child prodigies we put on display that should prove otherwise. I think that people who display a predisposition to certain things early on who have encouraging parents can get to a level of talent very early. I definitely think I was born with a predisposition to music for sure; both of my parents have great voices, and my grandmother on my dad’s side was a professional jazz singer. I’ve always been in choir and did talent shows back in the day, and I would say that I maybe had a ‘nice’ voice, but nobody ever told me that I had something until I decided that I wanted it. I went through a 2 year period of not singing at all in community college, I was really discouraged by some faculty members and I let that get to me. It wasn’t until I decided that I wanted to provide operatic vocals for a metal band that I got serious about practicing and improving my voice. I’m not really sure when I officially ‘found’ my voice, I try to improve it every day so maybe it’s still evolving. But I had to stop being afraid of ‘sounding bad’ before I could try to really improve myself and test what I could really do. I was never told encouraged to sing as a kid or told that it was something I was particularly good at. I was the one who made that decision for myself and I don’t think I’d be where I am today if that had happened differently.
JJA: When you perform you have this effortless energy about you. Like your truest sense is just distilled in front of all of us. It's obvious you work at your craft, but you know the saying "If you're good at something you make it look easy" Do you have any special habits or rituals you do before you perform?
AEON: Usually when I’m doing my makeup is when I give myself a pep talk about what I need to do to convey my message through performance. Intensity and connection in a live performance is important for me to try to demonstrate, so I try to stay entirely in the present during a performance. I guess that might sound strange since our bodies are always in the present, but I feel like our minds rarely are. Without practice, I think that being truly in tune with yourself and the people around you is rare and fleeting. People can feel when you are aware of your body, the space around you, and your senses. You give off a different vibration when you open yourself up to the present moment and allow yourself that vulnerability.
JJA: What else do you have in the works? New music? Shows? Tour? Where do you see yourself and Aeon in a few years?
AEON: I’ve been writing new material, and I have some shows planned in the spring! Some of them are still a ~secret~, but I have some big, exciting things happening this year in Seattle so hopefully the city is ready! I’d love to play a bit on the east coast this year, but I’m still not sure if my school schedule will allow it. If I’m honest, I have no idea where this project will take me. I definitely have dreams, but I feel like most of them are open-ended; there are many outcomes that I would be more than happy with, but it mostly boils down to this: if I’m able to support myself while doing what I love, I will be in the green.
JJA: Your studies are important to you, what do you study? Does this have a relationship to your art or are they seperate things?
AEON: Fields of study at Evergreen are a little unorthodox. I’m currently studying music and African American studies, which I’ve turned into a major in Afrofuturism. I originally came here for environmental science, so I may try to earn more upper division science credits, I’m not entirely sure yet. There’s definitely a huge intersection between my art and my studies, which is actually really neat. I’m currently in a course with a lot of talented musicians that I have the opportunity to collaborate with, which I’m really thankful for.