Following the Seratones‘ galactic performance on March 18 at SXSW’s Radio Day Stage presented by NPR Live Session Stations, we caught up with AJ Haynes (vocals, guitar) to explore the band’s genesis, what it means to be a force for liberation and more.
District Fray: How would you define your band’s sound + ethos?
AJ Haynes: Interstellar synthesis
Your band name is literally vintage personified. Tell me more about the decision to call yourselves the Seratones.
Haynes: I always want to pay homage to the multiplicities of Black music and the diaspora; I never intend to be vintage anything but I definitely wanted a classic name. “Sera” is a riff on “cera” meaning “wax” in Spanish. Also a riff on my mother’s maiden name “Ceria.” So by name Seratones is matriarchal, shapeable, adaptable and classic.
What fuels your creativity?
Haynes: The mission to make liberation irresistible. And plants.
Who are your musical influences (past and present)?
Haynes: Alice Coltrane, Giorgio Moroder, Donna Summer, Diana Ross, Sylvester, P. Funk, the African Diaspora in general, Little Jesus, Mereba, Arlo Parks, Sault, Little Dragon, Khruangbin, Jungle, [and] Japanese Breakfast, to name some folks.
In what ways do you feel you break new ground as artists?
Haynes: In my opinion (and also according to Bloom’s taxonomy), synthesis is the highest form of intelligence and in that way a practice in creative consciousness. I know I speak my truth and use what I’ve learned to articulate through sound and all forms of art I get to play with. I’m less concerned about breaking new ground and more concerned with what is planted and grown sustainably.
Louisiana has a proud lineage of musicians. How does it feel to be among the generation of artists carrying that torch?
Haynes: I feel both inextricably linked with and completely alien to the lineage of Louisiana musicians. In the commercial world, Black Louisiana musicians are so often defined by our past — and more specifically a past within a white capitalist imagination. I am mostly interested in my imagination — again, more concerned with growth and how a fire is used to feed the multitude. [I’m] less interested in carrying a singular torch.
If your band had a tagline, what would it be?
Haynes: Funk around and find out
Do you have a favorite performance venue and, if so, why?
Haynes: Anywhere outside; Newport Folk Fest definitely has a special place in my heart; those oysters are slammin’.
Anything interesting on the horizon for your band?
Haynes: New album entitled “Love & Algorhythms” out April 29. [Also] shout out to Aries season.
Follow the Seratones on Instagram @seratones.
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