Today we’re joined by Dee. Dee is a fantastic musician who is currently studying jazz at university. She has dabbled in other arts like filmmaking and drawing, but it is clear that her heart and passion lies with music. An incredibly dedicated musician, Dee’s lively answers demonstrate a love of music. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.
Please, tell us about your art.
I do a couple of forms of art as a hobby. I draw the occasional fanart, which I’ve been doing as a hobby for about six years. I did art at school though the restrictive nature of it never appealed to me. I was also interested in filmmaking at school, and my best work would have to be the documentary I made on asexuality for my final project last year. I haven’t yet found a way to incorporate my interest in filmmaking into my everyday life as I don’t have access to a lot of the necessary equipment but hope to get back into it sometime in the near future. I also recently started writing thought pieces on subjects related to asexuality which helps declutter the many thoughts in my head and a lot of people seem to enjoy reading them.
My main form art is music. I have been playing the saxophone for 8 years now and it has become a central part of my life. I was a huge band geek at school, playing in jazz band, concert band and saxophone quartet and received some highly regarded awards in music from my school during my final year. The highlight of my time as a musician would be when I played in the Western Australian Youth Jazz Orchestra (WAYJO) back in 2014. A lot of the photos you’ll see are from back then as I don’t have any other performance photos. At the moment I am studying a Diploma of Jazz at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) which is an absolute privilege. I started study recently, though I have found I’m not getting much of an opportunity to do what I love (that is, playing in band) so I’m considering my study options at the end of the year including the Bachelor of Jazz.
What inspires you?
When it comes to art, my direct influences which I am often inspired by are my other interests. In the past I have always drawn my favourite characters from video games and anime, and also write the rare fanfiction of my favourite ships. I have found in the past year that asexuality (and aromanticism) have become more and more of an influence on my art. It started with my documentary when my media teacher suggested we each pick a topic we are passionate about. I have been increasingly interested in writing on asexuality and after contributing to a couple of the Carnival of Aces I decided to give hosting a try, and did February on platonic attraction. Recently I have started a side blog where I’m posting my writing pieces from my main blog.
With music it is very different and a little more vague. As a musician I am inspired by the feeling that I get when I perform in a band setting and if I’m not feeling it, I will follow paths that are likely to lead me to it. It acts as a driving force in my life and shapes a lot of the decisions I make. It’s involved me taking some risks, such as prioritising music over academics and even pursuing it as a career though everyday I feel like I’m closer to where I want to be (that is, playing in a professional band setting).
What got you interested in your field? Have you always wanted to be an artist?
I guess just being exposed to different forms of music (particularly jazz) was what got me into music. I had no musical experience or interest until I started playing the sax at age ten, and my teacher dove me into jazz within my first year of playing and that’s how I came to love it. I didn’t know how much I’d love playing in band until I actually experienced it, and that was definitely a turning point for me.
I’ve definitely always been interested in art, though. I was always drawing, colouring in and making crafts when I was little and that has continued to this day.
Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work that you’d be willing to reveal?
I’d say I’ve developed a particular style when it comes to drawing, especially my way of colouring and shading. It’s a little unrealistic and more bright and fun. I want to make my drawings pop off the page in a cartoony way.
Music has taken a bit longer but I’ve recently started to develop my own style of playing and what I’m aiming for is a crisp tone that’s rough around the edges, if that makes sense? Haha
What advice would you give young aspiring artists?
Don’t listen to people who tell you you can’t do it! While it is always important to keep back up plans in mind, your passions should always be a priority. Set short term realistic goals and don’t let yourself be effected by other people’s negativity. If they’re not giving you constructive criticism, then they’re not worth your time.
Another piece of advice is have patience. Improvement can be slow and hard to notice at first, but over the long term you’ll start to notice your improvement in different areas so it’s important to be patient, not be so hard on yourself and stay positive!
Where on the spectrum do you identify?
I identify as aromantic and asexual, though it has taken me a long time to realise because I only found the asexual community a year ago.
Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field? If so, how do you handle it?
When it came to school there wasn’t any ace prejudice but there was an abundance of ignorance when it came to LGBTQ issues. It became frustrating listening to conversations where people were trying to decipher trans identities because if they can’t even understand transgender people, how would they understand asexuality? There was even a time when I was talking to a guy in my tutor group who was going off about how marriage equality isn’t a big deal. Because school can be a toxic place, I only came out to my group of friends and even then I had to get out my dictionary. I suppose just keeping in mind that ignorance is not intentional and that people don’t mean to come off as amatonormative in their everyday conversation got me through my final year of school.
It’s been a lot better since I started university, as I’ve already made a bunch of queer friends that I was comfortable enough to come out to and they all seemed to know what aromantic and asexual were, which is great! University tends to be a more openly sexual environment but in a more casual way that isn’t so in your face like school was for me, which is a lot easier to deal with.
What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?
The only misconceptions I’ve encountered since coming out have been from my sister, otherwise, everyone else has been very understanding. She has that attitude where everything she says is gospel and it’s included cliches like you don’t know until you’ve tried it (and funnily enough I have) as well as being convinced that I’m putting myself in a box and closing myself off from experiences. So I guess it’s pretty obvious why I’ve only come out as asexual to my family, and avoided using the word aromantic (while still expressing my disinterest in further relationships).
The Internet, on the other hand, is full of acephobia and ignorance. I most often see the you can’t be asexual if- line as well as that asexuals can’t identify as queer unless they experience same gender attraction or are trans (which I completely disagree with).
What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?
If they’re struggling to figure out their orientation, I’d say don’t rush it. You can take as long as you want to find the word that’s right for you, and even then, you don’t have to use labels. If they’re struggling accepting their asexuality I’d suggest surrounding yourself with people who accept you, and get involved in the ace and LGBTQ communities if that will help you feel better about your orientation. (I couldn’t tell which you meant)
Finally, where can people find out more about your work?
Thank you, Dee, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.