Home>Entertainment News>The Indie Band Aces on religious shame and queerness
The Indie Band Aces on religious shame and queerness
Entertainment News Fun

The Indie Band Aces on religious shame and queerness

“This record is, more than anything, about us owning our story for the first time and not being ashamed of our past,” drummer Alisa Ramirez explains.

She’s seated on a sofa in the back room of London’s The Camden Assembly Pub, preparing for the launch show of I’ve Loved You For So Long. “No girls allowed” is scribbled sarcastically on the wall behind her.

Alisa is one of four women in the all-female band: her sister Cristal is the main vocalist, and childhood friends Katie Henderson and McKenna Petty play guitar and bass, respectively.

The Aces began playing music as teens in conservative Provo, Utah, with Cristal piecing melodies together in her basement on a guitar she “borrowed” from her brother.

Their previous albums, When My Heart Felt Volcanic in 2018 and Under My Influence in 2020, received tremendous acclaim, but something was lacking.

All four were reared as Mormons, and three of them – Cristal, Alisa, and Katie – are gay. The relationship between their religious upbringing and sexuality was complicated and difficult to decipher. Not surprising considering the Church’s fundamental condemnation of same-sex attraction.

That experience is avoided on their first two albums. On their debut, they avoided using female pronouns in their relationship songs entirely.

“I think we felt a lot of shame as an ex-Mormon band.” “We didn’t want to be associated with that, or the trauma that brought us here,” Alisa adds.

“We never got to tell those stories about being 14, being gay, growing up in northern Utah.” “What a f*****g s**tshow, emotionally and mentally,” she says. “We finally got to tell those stories” when writing I’ve Loved You For So Long.

The album highlight “Suburban Blues” is simply one track that directly explores the mental quagmire. “I’m told I shouldn’t touch anything I like because decent girls adore Jesus, not that girl from Phoenix… “I’m trapped in my own mental prison,” Cristal sings in the song.

It’s a seismic shift from their debut, spurred by a number of factors. On New Year’s Day 2021, the gang was at a spa in Utah, gazing out at the mountains, as the world faced another COVID-19 lockdown.

“We just talked for three hours about why we were doing this.” How do we envision our future careers? ‘What is the motivation?'” McKenna explains. For the band, the aftermath of 2020, including the pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement, was eye-opening.

They went through a period of great reflection, exploring what was truly important to them as artists.

Furthermore, they began to accept their religious background and see how the humiliation they felt as LGBT teens had slowly eroded their mental health.

“We’re finally at a point where we can discuss all of this,” McKenna says. “I didn’t leave the religion in which I was raised until I was 24.” Katie arrived a little later. Now we can genuinely address these issues.”

Alisa adds, “as people, as artists, our priorities completely shifted, and I think that cracked open the ability to make a record like this.”

She continues, “It allowed us to move into this space where we were mature enough and far enough away from our youth to actually speak about it.”

The album feels like a release of the shame they accumulated as a result of their upbringing, queerness, mental-health difficulties, and drinking. “I wish I was better than this,” the lyrics of “Person” lament, before moving into the chorus, “but we’re all just that person sometimes.”

The ending single “Younger” expresses a similar idea, with the lyrics connecting their emotions together: “You’re not gonna know everything when you’re 14.” At 25, you don’t even know, and that’s fine.”

It appears to be an acknowledgement and acceptance of struggle.

“There’s a really intense perfectionism complex in religion.” “You have to be good all the time, and that’s not living,” Cristal explains. “Every now and then, you just f**k it up.” So much shame is ingrained in our upbringing.”

During the epidemic, recalling her childhood caused frequent panic episodes.

“For the first time, I felt so tired, so emotionally exhausted, that I couldn’t even try to keep up my face,” she admits. “It was dreadful. I felt like, “I don’t have anything left.” And it felt fantastic.”

The transformation that occurred on I’ve Loved You For So Long, however, does not diminish the genuineness of their previous two records. On their debut, fan fave “Lovin’ is Bible” is a subtle dig to the group’s religious apathy.

“I don’t think we weren’t sincere on our first record,” Cristal insists. “We were very serious. Our first two albums are truly unique. They’re authentic, and a lot of [the songs] are about queerness; I just think this record is a better representation of who we truly are.”

Katie, who came out as gay during the pandemic, agrees: “I don’t think this record could exist without the first two because of the topics of conversation that were brought up when they were being made,” she says, recalling their discussions about using female pronouns in songs for the first time.

“Those conversations helped all of us get to the same place and work towards making a record like this, where we can be open and honest.”

The Aces join a slew of LGBTQ women who appear to be ruling the music industry, including Miley Cyrus, Phoebe Bridgers, Ice Spice, and MUNA. What does it feel like to be a part of such a flood of LGBTQ+ talent?

“It’s magical,” says Alisa. “I don’t think we could have been the band we are now even five years ago, and we certainly wouldn’t have been celebrated the way we are now.”

“Queer women are f*****g f*****g magic and rock stars,” Cristal adds. “[We] have so much to offer the entertainment industry and the rest of the world.” We’re extremely fortunate to be a part of it.”

Sources: Marcus Wratten Pink News

Please follow and like us:

Leave a Reply