Music is an ever-changing industry, however, there is one common thread when it comes to creating music. When you hear music by an artist who believes, trusts, understands, and is passionate about their vision and the work they present to the world you are uplifted. After my interview with EJ Aviance, I have come to understand that no matter who you are, whether you’re gay, straight, Black or White, the love of music is an universal experience.
If you’re not familiar with EJ Aviance, he is a rising star within the music industry. EJ is someone I believe that once you hear his music, you’ll “get your life.” As we discussed, there was a time and an era when you took your problems to the dance floor and when you left the dance floor you had experienced the music and entertainment like you never experienced before. That’s why the term “got your life” means so much. When you’ve “gotten your life” you’ve experienced the sound and the rhythm and the people around you.
It was such a pleasure interviewing EJ Aviance because his mission in creating music matches UrbanLand Media’s goals, to provide a positive and uplifting message. During our conversation I gained such a respect for EJ because he is so passionate about his music, who he is, and where he comes from. I love the fact that his 77-year-old mother, Ms. Brown, embraces who he is. Although they may not agree all the time on life issues, he still sees his mother as his “thunder.” I respect that because I feel the same way about my own mother. The importance in that message from two African-American gay men, is that no matter what the world tells you, you can still be anyone you want to be. His recent LP was a project that started about a year ago and that was just the beginning. With the added strength from his mother and his extended family (Aviance House) and his spirituality he is doing something that we all understand and love; that we all can create a divine life. That’s why the title song, I Am Art resonated with me.
When I asked EJ what the difference between a performance artist and a drag queen was, although his answer was not simplistic, I believe he hit the nail on the head. A performance artist does more than just lip synch. A performance artist takes into consideration his/her culture and history and uses his/her experiences in their performances.
I asked about similarities between Kevin Aviance’s reference to a box of chocolates and his own reference to a box of colors, and I fell in love with his answer. A box of colors represents the world we live in. Everyone is uniquely different however we come from the same maker (God).
Originally from Virginia, EJ transported himself to DC where he grew as an individual and became comfortable in his own skin. In our society with the increase in bullying EJ is exactly what our community and the world need; thought-provoking, socially conscious individuals who know who they are, respect who they are, and who want to pay forward to others so that they have a smooth transition into who they want to become. This is the essence of what is going on in our community. His journey allowed him to open his eyes and see a world bigger than his own giving him the confidence that he could be who he wanted to be and that’s the message to the younger audience.
EJ’s music is like a canvas. It adds dimension and texture and is simply art. Learn more by reading the questions I asked EJ during our recent interview.
Congratulations on your I Am Art CD. What inspired you to create this CD?
Thank you very much Corey, and thank you for taking the time to do this interview. So many musical influences have inspired me along the way to completion of this full CD. It started mainly though with DJ Jorge “Coqui” Villalobos and DJ Biff. I recorded lots of the music 12-13 years ago. Coqui came to me and said “lets put out an album”. We had a plethora of work over so many years with so much influence that it seemed only right. So we went back into the studio, cleaned up a lot of the vocals, added some stuff, removed some stuff and here we are! (smile)
How did the project all come together?
Coqui and I released the album exactly one year ago to date. It wasn’t much you know. The songs hadn’t been correctly digitized and mastered, the vocals were low, and we photo shopped an old picture of me and put it on CD-BABY.com and iTunes for distribution. It sold 10 copies if that. Mother Juan contacted me and stated that I had been an Aviance for years and with that name there is a certain standard that is expected. She said the tracks are cute but the look is tired. She said it was good but it could be FIERCE! We then removed the album from the public, Mother Juan took over as Project Manager/Orchestrator. She said “EJ , why leave your house to find the things you need, when they’re right here?” (ie; graphic artist, video production, engineers, sound techs, etc.) I really had never thought about it like that. I’m so used to performing, and creating visual ART, that I simply forgotten how big our House is. We have seven hundred and some members worldwide and still growing. Needless to say the rest is history.
I understand you will be videotaping soon. What song will you be featuring and what is the concept for the video?
I think we are going to shoot a video via NYC for I am ART (the title track) and Knockoff the 9th track on the album. NYC is filled with museums, galleries, artist of all caliber. It’s the PERFECT place to shoot an Artistic video. The most unique thing I intend to do is show people through my vision that literally everything is ART! And as for knockoff, the song is a sort of parody, poking and making fun of the good “old fashioned” fake. Knockoff so to speak. You know, “if you like Dior’s POISON, you’ll love Parfum de Couer’s…..LOL! Not really a diamond just an IAMOND. One day it will grow up and want to be a diamond, but it never can…LOLOL! So me and my crew of Aviance Artist plan to go down to Canal street and see the crème de la crème of KNOCKOFFS!
How would you describe the house music scene today? How has it changed?
House music today, to me is like the rest of the “modern world” so to speak. People are always looking for an “easy” way to get through it and do it. The world sells us products we really don’t need, so the mindset of the “people” is to demand to buy, when the supply is still just basic. Music has the same demeanor. Tons of electronic sounds and auto tuning that takes away from the “old school sound”. I’m not sure how old you are Mr. Wesley, but I come from the era of Martha Wash, India & the Masters at Work, Kristine W, Joi Cardwell and Lil Louis and the World just to name a few. Divas took to the studio and stage and did entire tracks in one-take. If the vocal wasn’t right, they went back in and re-did it. Auto-tune was not even an option. Even the queens who made the bitch-track side of House music (Miss Fernando, Moi Renee’, Saliva Commandos, Roxy) famous, did so by bringing all that madness and mayhem about whatever was bothering them straight to the studio and the stage. Never to put filler or sounds where vocals should be laid. Redo the hook and record your own ad-libs, so that after it’s layered, it’s all you. That comes from drive and perseverance all fueled by originality and creativity. It might take longer, but what you have in the end is an amazing product.
How is the urban scene in ATL different than New York?
New York is THE urban Scene. Atlanta’s an amazing place don’t get me wrong, but it is still the South. New York is the type of city that you “love it” or you “leave it alone”. There’s no middle or medium with NYC. Atlanta on the other hand offers so many different levels of urban. You tend to run in social circles and hang in venues that match the type of company you keep or “urbanite” you run with. There is still the eclectic venue for the underground adventurer from house, to hip-hop, to Jungle. But there is a feeling that NYC gives that nowhere in the world has. The city so nice they named it twice! Right??
Q. How would you describe the fashion scene in ATL?
A. Now that is an area that I have witness go from following to leading. I think it has a lot to do with the growth and expansion of Atlanta, in such a short period of time. When I moved to Atlanta in 95 (to work for the 96 Summer Games) Atlanta was doing and wearing what VA had. And being from VA, they were doing what NYC had. And NYC got it from Europe. Fashion has evolved as it should into the norm of history repeating , but now there is a different type of element. Fashion always being ART is a true statement. With that being said, I can’t wait to get up here March 9th and have yards and yards of Organza, Chifon, and Silk coming off the side of the Empire State Building and taking up the Street in Times SQ. I make the majority of my costumes so I can’t wait to Debut and Display the Legendary E-J Aviance in NYC. Serving moving, visual, deep peripheral, Legendary an Original AVIANCE Artist
Q. What else do we have to look forward to from you this year?
A. Coqui and I are actually in the studio finishing up a second sophomore album. 16 years of friendship allows us to go all over the place with ideas and influences. Some interesting (to say the lease) things have grown and evolved from his and my relationship. We learned as well as were artist from this first album. This album was a test to see if the general liked it. Now that we’ve got your attention, 2013 get ready cause we’re gonna bring it. (Stay tuned for EJ and The Bionic DJ)