Aja became a social media icon thanks to her appearances on RuPaul’s Drag Race and All Stars 3. Although the Brooklyn-native didn’t get a crown in either season, she secured herself the title of fan favourite due to her undeniable talent and relatable personality.
With the release of her debut EP In My Feelings, Aja is showing the world that her talent goes beyond spectacular death drops and witty comebacks.
In an interview with CelebMix, Aja talks about her passion for music, how she deals with online trolling, and her experiences on Drag Race.
Congratulations on the release of your debut EP, In My Feelings! What can you tell us about it?
Thank you! In My Feelings was my way processing a lot of emotions regarding how my first time on Drag Race came across. I used a lot of the disappointment I had in myself as an inspiration to not only finish the EP but to show up those who were sleeping on me. I really wanted to remind people that I didn’t have any intention of making drag queen music. I had a big intention of making music.
What was the creative process behind the EP like?
The thing about touring the world is that you have to get comfortable doing things anywhere and at any time. The creative process is one of those things. I had to write a lot of these songs in airplanes, airports, and the studio. However, I work well under a deadline so I knew I could pump that.
Which artists inspire you?
I’m inspired by so many different artists. Musically, Nicki Minaj, and Azealia Banks have a lot of influence in the sound, as well as, FKA Twigs, Grimes, and Eminem. In ‘Art God’ I sampled Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, and in ‘Bitch I’m Kawaii’ I sampled hentai characters’ moans. I love finding a sound that resonates with me and trying to fit it into my music.
You’ve also just released the music video for ‘Brujería’. How did you come up with the concept for the video?
‘Brujería’ came about because I really wanted a track that could sample house beats with an Afro-Caribbean chant. One of my producers, Mitch Ferrino, found this perfect old school chant and after that, it really fell together. The video was an ode to Santería, my religion. I really wanted to dispel the idea that the religion and practice of Santería was a kind of dark art. Instead, ‘Brujería’ really samples the beauty and tradition that Santería is all about.
There were so many great fashion moments in the video! Do you have a favourite look from it?
All of the looks are beyond perfect; I can’t pick! The La Madama look, which is the yellow dress and bowed headpiece deserves a special shout out because it’s simple but so classic and refined. Florence D’Lee, a designer in Brooklyn who commissioned my looks, just took my breath away with the fashion moments in ‘Brujería.’
Viewers got to see a whole different side to you on the third season of All Stars compared to season 9 of RuPaul’s Drag Race. How would you describe your growth between the two seasons?
A lot changed for me between Season 9 and All Stars 3. I removed myself from a toxic relationship and started to become financially independent for the longest lasting time in my life. Going into All Stars 3 was a completely different game because I felt like I didn’t get to show enough on Season 9, but on AS3 I was able to be myself and just show people that I am more than just an Untucked viral moment. I’m an artist with a lot more to say than just, “your smile is beautiful.”
Do you have any advice for future contestants on Drag Race?
The two best pieces of advice I can give is first, do not worry about anyone else. During All Stars 3, I felt like I wasn’t paying attention to the other girls because I was only focused on what I was about to deliver on the runway or in the challenge.
Secondly, have a plan after the show ends. Drag Race is a big moment in your career, but another season is being planned before you’re even announced. Have some projects in the works that make sense for you and focus, focus, focus.
In the past, you have talked about receiving online hate. How do you deal with that? Has it become easier to ignore?
One of the ways I dealt with a lot of the online trolling was during a performance at Sasha’s Nightgowns. Following her footsteps, I used a projection screen to show all the comments people hurled at me during Season 9 and turned hatefulness into a piece of my art that I’m really proud of. Now, I let online hate fuel me a lot more, but it’s never easy to ignore. No one likes to hear negative, nasty comments about them, the trick is learning how to apply those moments into something better.
What’s your advice for people who haven’t found their own voice and are still struggling with low self-esteem?
The first thing to remember is that you don’t have to have it all figured out yet. Find something that makes you happy. That happiness will allow you to find your voice and speak up. That voice will give you confidence. After Season 9, my self-esteem was shot, too. But I knew I wanted to make music, and achieve more. That desire made me happy, and that happiness brought back my self-esteem.
You have your own drag house – the Haus of Aja – what do you want us to know about the other queens?
People should know to buy them lashes because those bitches keep taking mine. In all seriousness, the Haus of Aja is a chosen family and we support each through anything. Also, you should know if you come to Haus of Aja show, you’re going to have a good time. They are crazy. The Haus of Aja is going on tour in 2019 and we’re beyond excited.
What can fans expect from you next?
This summer I’m planning to release a mixtape! I want people to hear some different sounds from me, so I’m excited about those remixes. I’m also going on tour with my music later this year and I can’t wait to see people singing along to In My Feelings.