Aligning with artists that fall under the burgeoning umbrella of ‘New Weird Britain’, like Lone Taxidermist and Phantom Chips, Aja is a leading candidate to be mentioned, as one of the most exciting musicians in the country right now.
‘I really feel I’ve found my support network of weirdos who are all genuinely LOVELY human beings!’
Aja’s music itself is as much a visual and a sensory experience as it is an auditory one. Maximal in approach, AJA deploys rhythmic noise, bomb heavy drum machine, convolving vocal utterance and a dedicated hell-scape of field recordings, abrupt sound design and blistering drone.
The self titled ‘Opal tapes’ feels expelled rather than composed, a lashing of energy captured. The unhinged nature of her recorded work is complimented in what are soon becoming legendary live performances wherein the AJA experience is fully realised.
‘I am all of the above; I create every element of my performances!’
But, simply calling her a musician – or performer for that matter – feels somewhat reductive. Her work spreads through a vast array of mediums; collaborating with designer Lu La Loop on her costumes, designing her own album art, holding field recording and Ableton workshops for young girls, and getting ready to venture into the realms of VR.
‘Performing quite literally provides me with a physical way of expelling any trauma or pain in my being, in my body.’
Rarely does a debut release come with such a powerful impact as this providing much needed nourishment to the famine within alternative art and modern power electronics.
Begin your walk on the weird side with AJA, by firstly reading this exclusive interview!
How do you relate to human kind?
Wow – big question! I try to relate with compassion and I think the way to truly change the world in a more positive, open, accepting regard is through patience and love. Relating is complex, I can’t pigeon hole my experiences because everyone is different but I would say generally that the more accept myself for who I am, my flaws and imperfections, the more beauty I’m seeing in others.
Are you a musician, visual artist, or performer and how does disciplines interact, or inspire the other?
I am all of the above. I create every element of my performances, music production, branding, graphic design, I hand screen print and design all my perch, I’ve created all my visuals, made animations of my illustrations to project and I manage and book all my own shows. So everything I do comes together with this project.
In what ways do you experience, seek, use inspirations?
Inspiration flows through the genres, at the moment I’m really interested in the costume and performative element which I work on in collaboration with costume designer Lu La Loop. Lone Taxidermist is also a big inspiration in terms of the world she creates – I’m really interested in how I can provide a new environment to bring people into.
When I am working on music production I will be inspired by my friend Andrew Course, he always shows me the most unusual and unique sounds. I’m also inspired by nature, escalators, old records from Aids World and Skin Graft Records, but mostly it is subconscious and I can’t tell you 😀
Is Opal Tapes an amalgamation of the last fifteen years?
In some ways yes
Why has it taken you 15 years to record an album?
I was exploring and finding the right time.
In what ways has music and performance helped your mental illness?
Performing quite literally provides me with a physical way of expelling any trauma or pain in my being, in my body. Focusing on music production and the creative side gives me something to focus on which is nutritious for my soul and wholesome I think.
Will you ever someday consider training in an instrument?
I don’t learn that way but I do enjoy playing drums and piano – never say never!
Do you feel aligned to what media outlets have described as the new ‘weird Britain’? I guess what is weird?
Yes, totally, John Doran wrote this piece and he was the first person so every put into writing what I do – he really understands my art and through meeting him, Sly and the Family Drone, UKAEA, Gazelle Twin, Natalie Sharpe (lone taxidermist) and phantom chips, I really feel I’ve found my support network of weirdos who are all genuinely LOVELY human beings! We support each other through the good times and the bad, its a tough world at the moment and I feel very luck to be part of New Weird Britain!
I read this beautiful quote by you, “When people are open and respectful, magical things can happen,” Why do you suppose that can not always be the case?
People are scared, and that’s ok, it’s ok to be scared and vulnerable – but it becomes an issue when peoples pride takes over and they try to challenge me during a performance, it’s not the time or plan and it ruins it for the other people who are going through the journey. I don’t expect everyone to like what’ I’m doing or to want to experience it but if that’s the case the best thing to do is leave the room I think 🙂
What inspires you by drag performers?
I’m not really inspired by traditional old school drag, I think the most inspiring drag I’ve ever seen was at a night called Icky in Berlin – I’ve never seen anything like it! Also Eat me and Preach have amazing drag acts too in Liverpool, UK. I like seeing things that I’ve never seen before but I can’t really put it into words, it’s just a connection you have with someone’s art I think.
Your workshops look very cool and inspiring. Could you tell me more about them; their intentions and how you became involved in such endeavours?
The intentions are to show people you can be resourceful and make music even with no expensive equipment or knowledge of training in instruments. Also to inspire people and give positivity to using music to meditate and de stress. I became involved through Nomine booking me to teach a workshop in London for “Education and Bass” and from there, like everything I do, I just send many, many emails asking if I could teach 🙂
Could you explain to our readers your definition of ‘queer art’?
My definition is not with words but through my art work, I wouldn’t want to try and describe or unpick something using a written medium if that makes sense?
Your singing is notably beautifully. How did you find your voice within your voice?
My Dad encouraged me to sing when I was small but I was so shy for years I sang into a pillow! The voice is a beautiful tool, one which I’m still exploring and have lots to learn from!
How did you become involved in the Throbbing Gristle exhibition, which was a truly remarkable performance?
Thank you! I was asked by We Are Kunst who are an amazing gallery in Belper, providing truly brilliant artwork in a disengaged area which I think is really something to aspire to!
In what ways do you identify as a female?
I’m cis female, I identify fully as female.
What does the present look like for you?
The very present looks like an empty plate of spaghetti and a new nephew to cuddle! But in terms of my music, I am working on a VR experience in collaboration with digital artists Jake Moore and Joey holder in partnership with Nottingham University which I’m really excited about! I am creative director of the whole project and am currently working on the sound “score” and different sonic elements of the piece. I’ve been sampling a nice new plug in called Synplant that Andrew introduced to me but I’ll mainly be using samples I’ve been collecting over the past year during workshops as I’d like the environments to have more of an organic elements. I will also have songs from the album playing in the environments too 🙂 We are still looking for a gallery to exhibit the final outcome which should be ready around September and we are all really excited about showing this to everyone! It will be a new way for people to experience a new world!