UNDER MY INFLUENCE by THE ACES
equality factor: finding their voice in relation to gender and sexuality
producer: Zach Skelton, Keith Varon, Mike Green, Valley Girl
based in: Los Angeles and Utah
label: Red Bull Records
With "Under My Influence", American band The Aces are releasing their second studio album. The record still has a lot of familiar The Aces elements in it, but it also showing us a lot of growth in various areas. Not only is the band taking a big step forward musically - there is also a big development in regard to the content and themes of the new songs.
The overall topic of "Under My Influence" is becoming oneself, a coming-of-age kind of story. They tackle a graspable topic and one that could not be more complex in its diversity. Although the four girls of The Aces are only in their early twenties, they managed to handle this subject in a very reflective and mature way. Alisa Ramirez, the band's drummer, gives the following answer to the question of how you manage to find yourself: „Be nice to yourself and give yourself room to grow and be patient with yourself. Trust your gut, because you know a lot more than you think you know inside. Don’t second-guess yourself. If you are getting a certain feeling about something just grow with it!"
"Change is the only constant that you can count on.“
No matter how much you plan, life has a way of always turning out differently. Just because you plan everything perfectly does not mean that everything will happen exactly as you had imagined it. In a nutshell, that was the story around the release of the band's sophomore album. The album should have been released on June 12th already, but due to the Black Lives Matter movement, which started in the USA and in which the four musicians actively participated, the band decided to postpone the release until July 17th. But the four of them also used the quiet caused by COVID-19 before that to ask themselves: where do I want to go in my life, as guitarist Katie Henderson explains.
A very empowering element of this album is the fact that the two sisters Alisa and Cristal Ramirez talk openly about their sexuality.
They were only 16 and 18 years old when they made their first record „When My Heart Felt Volcanic“, „We were just really trying to find our voices as artists, even outside of our sexual identity… Not everyone in our band is gay, so we were just trying to keep this more overarching narrative of like, love stories and concepts.“, Crystal tells us. This time around, they were just writing stories from their lives. It felt most authentic to use varying gender pronouns to reflect their different sexualities to show the most honest version of themselves.
„We wanna make the most vulnerable authentic record we can possibly make, and using pronouns in some of the songs was the only way to make it as authentic and honest as possible.“, Alisa explains further.
THE IMPORTANCE OF BRINGING LGBTIQ+ TOPICS INTO THE MAINSTREAM
In putting out songs like „Kelly“, The Aces realized the importance of bringing LGBTIQ+ topics into the mainstream and pop. And the more they are using their voices for this incredibly important topic, the more they feel that certain magic accompanying the reaction of people listening to those meaningful and overall honest words. By doing this, they are also setting an example of being as honest and brave as possible to inspire their listeners to act the same way. „I am proud of being part of the community.“, Cristal admits. And this is exactly the vibe and the spirit that helps nourish the brightness within, and the overall acceptance of the LGBTIQ+ community. „I feel like there is not enough of that, queer women in the pop culture telling their story in music.“, Cristal adds.
When travelling the world with their music, especially passing through places that are not as progressive as capital cities where the LGBTIQ+ community is welcome, they met fans whose lives changed because of their music and found like-minded people with who they could connect through it. „I am only really able to be myself when I come to your concert“, is what a fan told Cristal once. This might be one of the most meaningful compliments a musician can get. Simultaneously, this feedback from a fan defines what makes The Aces truly remarkable: despite their young age, the four artists add a message into their music that has a long-lasting positive effect on the lives of their listeners. Not only does music have the power to positively influence the situation of the individual, but it also contributes to the global acceptance of the LGBTIQ+ community.
Like many other musicians, The Aces perceive the music world as very male-dominated in regard to gender equality. Within the indie and alternative music area, the male dominance is painfully noticeable - especially when women are musicians, and cannot be sorted into the category of classic girl groups or build a career as pop singers. Behind the scenes, a larger male presence sets the tone, too, but young ambitious females are making a change for the better. „We have always really been in control of everything we do and made that a point.“, Alisa explains their way of dealing with this unequal situation.
"We are always looking for females in ways to encourage them and hire more and more females.“
„I don’t think a lot of girls know that there are so many jobs within the music industry that don’t involve being in a band.", Cristal shares this important observation with us. The eloquent singer notes that many girls simply do not know how many professional possibilities there are to get a foothold behind the scenes. And here too, the band has made it their mission to create a new awareness for this topic by trying to work with as many women behind the scenes as possible. At the same time, they aim to show to young girls the wide variety of job opportunities for women in the music business.
It is not only important to The Aces to empower women to consider a career in the music business. Just by being themselves openly and proudly, they set an example of how womxn can always reinvent themselves in the music scene and face new challenges at ease. The guitarist of the band, Katie Henderson, is growing more and more into the role of producer herself. „What is interesting is, that there are not a lot of female producers and I think there is such a space for it.“, recognizes Katie. „I wanna take up that space and I want to be a part of that."
As you can see, "Under My Influence" is full of equality empowering thoughts and statements, even behind the scenes of the production process. To us, this is what makes this album a true milestone in the band's history.