Nashville’s VEAUX have released their glitzy new synth number ‘Tell Me That You Love Me’.
The track is fiery, full of catchy hooks and introspective lyrics, and has cosmic synths that run right the way through. A striking visual accompanies that lays bare the vulnerability in the group and especially their frontman, Aaron Wagner.
With the release of their new single, The Lowdown decided to catch up with Aaron to delve deeper into his band’s message.
Your new track ‘Tell Me That You Love Me’ is outstanding. Well done! When and where was it written?
"Thank you! We do everything at my home studio. We call it "The Belafonte," which is the name of Bill Murray’s ship in my favourite movie The Life Aquatic."
The lyrics ‘too black to be white, too white to be black’ immediately jump out. What are you referring to here?
"A lot of things. One, I am a Black man that was brought into a white home since I was less than a month old. My family experience was incredible, but in the case of nature vs nurture, I can speak from experience that the answer is yes to both. I love classic rock because my dad loved classic rock. I don’t speak with the same accent Black people are expected to have because that's not where I’m from.
I was made fun of growing up for being "too white.” On the other side of things, there's always the harsh reminder than I am, in fact, a Black man in a white world. When we released this song, an old friend of mine who grew up in the same area called and said “I’ve been pulled over by the cops 6 times in my life and every one of those times, it was you or your brother, Dominick, driving.” It finally registered to him some of the injustices Black Americans endure regularly.
On a whole other level, it just speaks to the political nature of things in our world right now. I’m a moderate-tempered person. I live in the grey area, so to speak. I align so much of my views with the left, but there are a couple of things I don’t. It is what it is. I’ve lost people close to me because I was unwilling to choose a team. It’s left me, even to this day, in a place of identity crisis.
I’m not left, I’m not right, I’m not just black, I’m not white. I’m Aaron."
And the title itself shows a lot of vulnerability. Why was it so important to you to reveal this side of yourself?
"Throughout the last year, I’ve been going through a really intense rebirth. I’ve been calling up enemies and people I’ve hurt and making amends, I’ve been to therapy, processing my abandonment issues, likely from my birth. I’ve recognized that, within myself, I have such an intense desire to be loved to the ninth degree by everyone around me. It’s a problem. It’s people pleasing on steroids. I have literally lost weeks of sleep because someone looked at me weird in the third grade and I randomly recall it and try to analyze it! It’s a problem and it leads me to hurt and be hurt by people.
I think part of my journey in therapy was to name it out loud. I’ve never been quite this personal in a song. I don’t even really have the luxury of it being a reference to a past time. It's happening right now. My idea is that when you shine the light on something, it makes the monster smaller. I want people to know where I’m coming from, so they can also call me on my bullshit when it will inevitably come up. I refuse to stay here. I want all the goodness of Aaron out there at present in the world."
What was the concept behind the song’s video?
"It’s really just a lyric video. We figured that it should be somewhat personal and tie into the theme: raw, naked, and sometimes uncomfortably honest. We shot the cover and our photographer, Sean Hagwell, was like “we should just get this really quick." We always forget to make lyric videos, so this was a first for us!"
The track is kind of your creative response to the Black Lives Matter movement. What sort of reactions has the song been getting in that respect?
"The feedback has been, like everything else, very polarized. What’s funny is, this song was written almost a year to the day before it came out, so it's in response to the recent uproar, but it’s also about my personal experience within this issue on both the macro and the micro levels, if that makes sense?
A lot of our fan base comes from my upbringing in the evangelical church, so a bunch of our fan base that's usually on board has been radio silent this time, but we’ve also had a bunch of new-comers that have been so kind and affirming. We knew it was a risk to speak our truth in this way and it’s not been easy, but it’s been rewarding."
With the situation in America boiling over, are you noticing any changes in attitude towards yourself? Either positively or negatively?
"I’m feeling more at home in my skin, in every way possible. I love being Black. I love my white family. It's a time for me to learn how to claim my identity as a Black man, in order for me to help move the conversation forward from a perspective only a Black man and Black artist can give.
I feel empowered by that, challenged by that, and ready to engage it."
If real change is never made, what sort of future are we in for?
"I couldn’t even begin to imagine. It's hard when the collective outrage only comes in waves. If I actually took lunches with every friend that DM’d me when everything with George Floyd and Breonna Taylor happened, I’d still be booked out. But at the moment, everything is real quiet. I hate the idea that it takes another murder to see change. There are some really great organisations, though, that I’m really inspired by that are still on the move like Gideon’s Army and Teens 4 Equality, here in Nashville. I can’t believe change won’t come when those kids are moving their feet so steadily."
Can fans who are in love with the new music expect more of the same on the next release? Or are we in for a complete change of pace?
"It’s been a long, long process of trial and error and working with several different people. For the foreseeable future, just like with this song, we are keeping this in-house and close to the chest. I think we just realised we work better when we are alone at The Belafonte."
Listen to ‘Tell Me That You Love Me’ HERE
INTERVIEW BY ALISTER ROSS