Photo courtesy of Weaux.
This is an installment of exclusive Q+As with our Shifter Fest Vol. III performers. Be sure to check out their special performances on our IGTV channel!
Three years ago, Weaux experienced a horrendous breakup – shattering his heart into a million pieces. As a journey to heal and tell his story, Weaux wrote and produced his debut album — “Weaux Is Me,” an autobiographical storyline into his relationship, queerness and experience as a Black-Mexican Queer musician in New York.
I had the beautiful opportunity to sit down and talk to Weaux about his origin, his music — and the inspiration behind it — and about his debut show “Weaux Is Me Live” which premiered in April.
Shifter Mag: Let’s start off with the name Weaux. Where and how did Weaux come to be? Where did the name Weaux come from?
Weaux: So it comes from my personal name. It's a combination of my first name and my last name. My last name is Babineaux and so growing up, people would always mispronounce my last name because it's just very French-looking and like a lot of people wouldn't understand. It's from my dad's side of the family, we're Louisiana Creole, from Natchitoches and Cecilia, Louisiana. That was just always something that was a part of me. And I kind of liked that I had this unique last name that I had to explain to people kind of how to pronounce it.
One day, I just started doodling and then I just wrote Weaux [Woah], I just kind of combined my first name and my last name and I was like, “Oh, that looks cool.” And then I was like “Ooh, Weaux Is Me. I want that to be my first album,” and that was like when I was 16 — it's like many years ago. I think the reason I like it is because you say ‘Woah’ when something's amazing. And I always want to be amazing in everything that I do. So it's kind of like naming myself that as like my way of reminding myself that like, “I'm amazing, you know?”
SM: That’s incredible. You mentioned being 16 when you first thought about your stage name while being back in Texas. How did you end up in New York before COVID-19 and what made you go back?
Weaux: I came to Fordham University to study theater. When I was younger, I actually started as an actor first, so I was super into a theater. Still am, love me some acting. I just really found myself wanting to come to the city. It just really changed me in a lot of different ways. I just kind of broke out of this mold that I was in. I thought I was being, you know, an individual when I was at home, but then when I got away from everyone that I knew — the city that I grew up in — and came up here, it was just a completely different world.
There was definitely a lot of culture shock. Especially the first two years that I was here – I didn’t know what was going on. My body was freaking out. I didn't know who I was anymore, because I was very much in the closet before I came out, even to myself. It was just kind of this deep denial of my queerness. And then just gradually being up here [in New York], through my theater training, it became very liberating, learning about different parts of myself and my body. And I was like “Oh, uh, this is not straight, but it's cool.”
SM: Talking about queerness, what does it feel to be a queer musician in this day and age? How does this fuel your music?
Weaux: Honestly it feels great. I feel it allows me to find my own niche and my own way of doing things. And I very much have my influences — I love Prince and Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson and all these different amazing and great artists. I kind of take what they did and put it through the lens of my queerness a little bit. I'm just like that, but with a little more rainbows, a little more sequins, and a little more glitter, and then I get something new. So like that, that feels fun to me. I love that.
Right now it's not an equal playing field because obviously, people have major record deals or organizations helping them out [which] have a lot more power. Certain things are still not set up very equally. But you can put out your music basically anywhere now, you can pay a distribution service to put your music on Spotify, which is what I'm doing and you don't need any gatekeepers or anyone to tell you “oh, you're good enough to do this.” You really have to say “I'm good enough to do this. I'm going to put it out there.”
I think overall the dominant music culture is still very hetero-focused and I would love to be a part of making it more inclusive for everyone. I'm really interested in opening up that space and just bringing in a different aesthetic — more fantastical, imaginative kind of stuff.
SM: Let’s talk about your music! From your first release “High Definition” in 2018, to “Weaux Is Me” released in April 2021 — what changed about your sound? What made you decide it was time to heal?
Weaux: Yeah, it's a huge shift from "High Definition." That was three years ago. I still love that song. It just embodies the fun and the raw charisma that I felt that year when I first came out and spent my first summer in New York City. And I was like “I don't care what anyone thinks. I'm just going to do whatever I want and just put myself out there.” I really was living in "High Definition" that year. It was just like a good year. But even at that time, that was still right after I'd had this breakup. So I wasn't really processing that trauma yet.
So yeah, from a music standpoint, that's like the difference from a personal standpoint — "High Definition" is fun, but there wasn't really much vulnerability in it.
This album is literally me stripping more and more naked in every single song. It starts with the song "EVENT" and it's very fun at the beginning. It starts getting deeper and deeper and deeper into who I am and what I went through. By the end, "See You Again" is the last song — it's super stripped back. It's only my piano, my voice, and then just like a little synth pad, but it's very transparent and clear. I really wanted it to be like an emotional arc, which takes you through the whole journey of self-empowerment that I went through in 2018.
SM: If someone were to recommend your music to a friend, which song would you like them to send first?
Weaux: First Impressions. It just hits you like a ton of bricks and it's so dramatic. It has this whole emotional arc to it that’s so over the top — I love it.
We’re excited to see where Weaux takes his music next and how he continues to evolve into a magnificent artist.
Want to hear more of Weaux? Check him out on the web!
In the meantime, catch Weaux’s exclusive performance for Shifter Fest Vol. III on our IGTV channel:
Parts of this interview have been condensed and edited for clarity.