In Her Self-Titled Debut EP, AERI Breaks Up With the Idea of Herself [Premiere]

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Photo: Gerrie Lim

Sometimes the light curves through the sky, peeling between the clouds in such a way that it becomes a heavenly spotlight, giving you pause and beckoning you to look up and listen. AERI may be the physical embodiment of such a moment, fitting too as she admits that her religious entanglements made music dear.

Native to New Jersey, daughter of a pastor, AERI grew up in a musical household, cloaked in church traditions inherited from her Korean parents who came to America to study theology. A fertile ground for existential tension, AERI admits she would switch from Hot 97 to a Christian radio station when her parents entered the room, playing guitar to "claim herself" despite not wanting to be an artist just yet. Rooted in two worlds, her queer take on indie pop music has an aura of complexity, a musical foundation shaking with awareness.

AERI the artist, now residing in Brooklyn, was the nexus of a somersault of life events: an exit from a relationship, a job loss, and an angsty reckoning with her queer self - or as she so eloquently put it, "breaking up with the idea of who I am."

Her self-titled debut EP has the intimacy of a prayer tome, a tract of introspection backdropped by hymn-like melodies, a window into her most honest self, sorting through a ledger of grief and shame on one side to the power her of queer artist identity on the other. The tempestuousness of her "inner dialogues" is palpable throughout the EP, most notable on "Horizon," where her crescendo of thoughtful lyrics and almost affirmations about self-growth perfectly encapsulates her explicit vulnerability.  

That is the poignant veil that all of AERI is shrouded in, a decisively intelligent soul, wrestling with spiritual conditions that were often left unspoken entirely. With this stoic musical output as her catharsis, the seesaw of AERI's life experiences is audible, all to our benefit, an intimate exploration of the queer journey often left untold.  

Listen to AERI below:

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