We had the pleasure of sitting down with musician and lifestyle artist Aish Divine, one of New Yorks most exciting and thrilling talents who combines the beauty of being queer with the magic of creativity to mesmerise all who are in their presence. We managed to grab the New York starlet for a chat to discuss upcoming projects, 'The Sex Issue' and being a queer icon in the making.
How would you describe Aish Divine in three words?
I got you
'The Sex Issue' is an upcoming project you've been working on - what can we expect?
The Sex Issue is an emotional explosion, of euphoria, humour, anger, sorrow, disgust, loneliness and relief, all at once. It can be a party or a friend when you’re alone. It’s packed with 808s, field recordings, vintage analog synths, chamber instruments like gamelan, santur, marimbas, strings, references from Jung, Picasso, Esther Perel, postcolonial and feminist works, It Gets Better and MeToo. It’s visceral, it’s intellectual, it’s intimate, raw, dark, funny, uptempo, slowcore, off-centre pop. The Sex Issue performances, music videos and visuals are a choreographed, colourful, riotous celebration of sexuality.
If you’re familiar with my work through Mother, then expect a complete 180.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, I’ve chosen to move the release of The Sex Issue to summer of 2020. In the meantime, starting April 18th, I’m releasing the brand new Ma Mixtape, a collab project with some incredibly talented producers from around the world, alongside the anniversary re-release of Mother and bringing back limited edition Mother tape cassettes, vinyl and fashion.
Is there a motive behind 'The Sex Issue' or is it just an expression of self?
The Sex Issue is as much autobiographical as it’s a celebration of the sexuality of my lonely generation which is having less sex than ever. This record is my experience and observation of online dating, pornography, festishes, sexuality of power and race, abuse, formation of sexual identity, sexlessness, loneliness, the pure euphoria of uninhibited animalistic sex, monogamy, polyamory, egg freezing, gender vs sexuality.
The Sex Issue gave me an entirely new perspective on sexuality. Sexuality isn’t just a state of being, but a feeling, just as joy and sorrow are feelings. Sex is only one of the many ways I express sexuality. Sexuality is powerful, it’s an instrument of agency, it’s not something that just happened to me while life was happening.
Perhaps The Sex Issue is an expression of my sexuality.
What does the word queer mean to you?
Extraordinary, enigmatic, often misunderstood dreamer.
What’s something you hope people remember you by?
I just want to know I’m loved. And if you’ll remember me for the love my music gave you, I could die a content man today.
America can be a scary place for BAME queer communities, do you feel this fear and what do you think needs to change?
I’ve experienced legitimized violence, bullying, trolling, discrimination for being a visible queer person of colour. While painful, these experiences have only made me stronger, taught me to not apologize for my being, to walk into a room with agency, unafraid to take a seat at the table. These experiences have also driven me to empower those of us who are vulnerable or underrepresented for simply being who they are, BAME or not, queer or not.
We’ve made tremendous progress, in laws, in public opinion and our freedoms. But we have a long way to go. I want allyship to be a true agent of change, not commodification or theft of our experience. I want access to mental healthcare to be a human right. I want to see our painful experiences not break us down, but be the fire within that each time we walk into a room, we are devoid of fear, in full splendour of our sexuality with an unflappable assumption we’re as good and deserving as anybody else. I want to see our community lift each other up, and together lift others who may not be BAME or queer, but are vulnerable.
What’s your biggest life goal?
To be loved. To be able to keep giving.
What’s the best part about living in New York?
I’m in awe of New York for being the microcosm of humanity, of the great social experiment that America is. New York isn’t perfect by any stretch of imagination and 911 isn’t distant memory, but it’s a wonder how things just keep moving forward in a metro of 19 million people. I’m in utter awe of all the great art that comes out of New York, Martha Graham, Ailey, Warhol, Avedon, Blondie, Madonna...gosh I could go on till dawn. You’re poor or a billionaire, you’re a Bernie-bro or a conservative evangelist, you’re homeless or you live in a Chelsea penthouse, you’re an asylee or born with a silver spoon, you’re all walking the same streets. Everyone is somebody yet they are nobody.
Interview by Charlie Long
Follow Aish Divine on their journey and await the release of the long anticipated Sex Issue - @aishdivine