Image of the band The Aces

The Aces: “We want this band, so we’re just gonna be this band”

15 mins read

Sitting in a quaint, cosy, festive pub on Argyle street, just a few hours before they took to the stage at The OVO Hydro, The Aces ordered a round of teas and a bite to eat, still bundled up in their hats and fleeces.

They’d just arrived in Glasgow from Liverpool, the ninth night of 12 for The Vamps 10 Year Anniversary tour, which they were opening for.

We let them get settled, made our introductions and had a little chat about the freezing temperatures, before we asked The Aces about their roots.

All four of them, Cristal, Alisa, Katie, and McKenna (Ken), originated from Utah and grew up in a heavily Mormon community. Other than Ken, they all identify as queer, so we unpacked what that cocktail of identities was like to live with, and how it influences them today as artists.

“How much does your background come into your music?”

Cristal: “I think that obviously growing up in Utah was really difficult, very conservative and very, very Mormon.

“Alisa and I are both queer, Katie is queer, so I think that our band kind of like – you know, we’ve been in a band for so long, since we were like 12, 13 years old – and when I look back on it, and we talk about this all the time now, I feel like a big reason we started our band is because we needed to create a safe space for ourselves.

“And we all were queer, but we didn’t know that we were queer? It’s so funny when you look back on it, like, there was that knowing. You find each other, you find the community, you find ways to make safe spaces, so The Aces, I think, was really birthed out of needing that in a place like Utah.

“Now, obviously going forward, on our last record Under My Influence was the first time that we actively used female pronouns and talked about sex and love, queer love, and that’s just been incredibly rewarding.

“I think we just had to grow into ourselves a bit and figure out how we wanted to do it and how we wanted to speak about our relationships, and how personal we wanted to get, all those things.

“I think when you’re an artist you kinda have to go through figuring all of that out until you kinda settle into your identity and you know who you are and what you wanna say.

“So yeah, it’s hugely influential: where we’re from, to being queer, all of it.

“I think The Aces couldn’t exist without that whole background.”

“It’s nice that you found that in yourselves, and became your own role models.”

Cristal: “I think that’s what everyone’s trying to do. Everyone’s trying to be the thing that they needed, you know?

“Whether that’s like the artist, the parent, the love, the whatever; I think that we’re all just trying to be what we need, you know?

“So, that’s kinda what I think we’ve done as we really needed that… there wasn’t a lot of people for us to look up to, especially being all women in a band.

“So, we were like ‘Okay, so we want this band, we would love this band, so we’re just gonna be the band.'”

Being a band means making music, so we began to ask them about the content they’d released this year and what we can expect to see from them next year.

Girls Make Me Wanna Die came out this year… do The Aces have any plans for next year?”

Cristal: “Yes, of course! We have an album that we have finished and we’re excited.

“It’s coming out next year, can’t tell you when, but we’re really excited, we’re really ready to be back moving and shaking.”

Ken: “Girls Make Me Wanna Die is part of it, it’s part of the album.”

Cristal: “Yes, it’s part of the album. It kinda started off the whole next chapter.”

Ken: “We let one out a little early.”

Cristal: “There will be a lot of touring, too. A lot of shows, lots of new music and yes, we’re definitely gonna be coming back.”

Katie: “We got some shows that we’re really excited about, whenever those get announced.”

Discussing the earliness of the single compared to the release of the album in a separate year, we began to chat about how they construct their albums and what the creative process is like.

“How do you create your albums structurally… Does TikTok influence your creative process?”

Katie: “So, with this record we were really hands off about single stuff, we love this album, we love all the songs on it… we just think all these songs are sick, so.”

Ken: “It’s honestly been such a nice thing.”

Katie: “It’s so exciting, like whatever song you put out- hell yeah!”

Ken: “It’s hard to know though, because sometimes you put out singles and then there’s like a random deep cut that explodes. You just don’t know what people are gonna like.”

Cristal: “We try not to [feel pressure]. I think that for a while, as an artist, you obviously want your music to be heard and you want to be successful and there’s a lot of pressure on you when you’re signed to a record label to make money and to perform.

“You know, it’s fucking dog eat dog. The entertainment industry is just really intense and everyone is always competing all the time, and so it’s easy to slip into that kind of thing but, specifically with this new record, we’ve just been so anti all of that. We’ve just been so like ‘we don’t care’ about that stuff, we only care about making really really good art and music, and connecting to the people that really need it and are gonna enjoy it.

“So, any time any of that conversation will come up, we’re like ‘No. Bye!’ cause we don’t know, and you don’t know, and all you can do is make really good shit and then hope people like it, and you can’t control and manipulate five seconds of your song into being the big sight. That’s just a fucking fluke, no one can control any of that, so you can’t get lost on that.”

Katie: “We were just talking about this too, but when you write or create with an intention, like TikTok or something, if it doesn’t work out or whatever, do you like it at the end of the day? You just have to really enjoy what you put out.”

Ken: “I feel like something that you learn, as an artist, as you get older, is that you can’t make art with capital in mind. You can’t, you’re just gonna make really bad art so you have to come from a completely genuine place and then if something cool happens that’s just a cherry on top.”

We started discussing the pressures of the industry, how they help each other out in the “dog eat dog” industry and how this ties into their New Year Resolutions.

“Any personal goals for 2023?”

Ken: “We always do a big New Year thing.”

Cristal: “Yearly, we look over our last year, we talk about the new year, talk about what we want to do.

“It’s important to ask yourself those questions like ‘Do I? Do I still like us? Okay, cool. What things about it do I not like that we could fix or whatever?’

“So I think our main goals are just, since we’re just really, really excited about this new record, we just want to play it to as many people as possible.”

Katie: “And enjoy it.”

Cristal: “And enjoy it.”

Ken: “Be present and take care of ourselves individually, too.”

Katie: “We say all the time, this is like a marriage. You gotta really work on the partnership and make sure you know that it works.”

Cristal: “I think that honestly, what you do creatively is a labour of love. And it’s not going to be fun a lot of time, and you have to love it enough that that doesn’t matter to you.

“It’s like, no, sometimes you just don’t want to fucking write but you still write.

“So I think that that’s why our band has been able to be together for so long. When shit is really hard, we don’t stop doing, we’re just like, ‘yeah, it’s really hard right now. Anyway, it’ll probably be fine tomorrow.'”

Ken: “Yeah, whenever you’re mistreated or like something shitty happens to you like, especially as being women in a male dominated field, we use that to fuel. Like, we’ve performed our best we’ve been like, pissed. We use it.”

As The Aces are touring with The Vamps as part of their ten year anniversary tour, we moved past the goals for 2023 and into their dream for a decade in the future.

“Where do you see yourselves in ten years?”

Cristal: “You know, we’re each others best friends so its just like really fun we get to be in a group and hang out and travel together.”

Ken: “We’ve already been together for 16 years so, so we’ll be in the 26th. We’ll be what, 36?”

Katie: “Just looking at [The Vamps] career, they’ve got five albums, they’re playing the biggest venues in the UK like that’s so amazing.

“We’re about to put out our third you know, and it’s really inspiring to be out with a band like that and things like that, you know, since it makes you want to work hard and hopefully have that same kind of trajectory you know, but they’ve been really fun to watch and be super inspiring.”

The interview then dissolved into a puddle of giggles, munching chips and chirping away like we hadn’t met just a half hour ago. We could really see the tight bond these ladies had and were truly grateful to witness it.

Later that night, we got to see them perform on stage when they opened for The Vamps. As we watched their electric performance at the OVO Hydro, we saw the vibes from the dinner table had multiplied on stage and that the band were truly a musical force to be reckoned with.

Gazing in awe as their set finished, the only thing on our minds was, “I hope we have dinner again sometime”.

Feature Image Credit: The Aces Instagram

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Journalism and English Studies student with an interest in film & tv, music, and politics.
Live on Air3 Thursday 1-2.30
Twitter: @AlexPaterson01

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Music Editor of Brig Newspaper. 4th year film, media and journalism student.

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