Jamie Aaron Aux plays the Union Hall Fri., March 9, at 8 PM, with Magpies and Ratbath. Cover TBA.
When Jamie Aaron Aux came through Missoula in 2005, she was touring on a solo album called A Familiar Assortment of Demons and Dreams released under the moniker Henkensiefken. The music was striking: mathy riffing, stoner rock tones and bewitching vocals, all of it oscillating between blistering and placid. Demons and Dreams also showcased her tough-as-nails lyrics, as on “Orange Aurora Sky,” where she sings, “A battle axe and a bunch of maps / there ain’t a time that I don’t have my own back.”
That lone-wolf, can-do attitude is how Aux has rolled for more than a decade now, a one-woman machine who’s made it her mission to know the ins and outs of her craft — composition, equipment, touring — on her own terms.
“I wanted to defeat sexism,” Aux says. “I was like, ‘I can do this. I’m a woman and I can record everything and I can play all the guitar stuff — I can do it all.’”
It’s not as though Aux has been completely solitary. She’s played in her fair share of bands, including Missoula’s the Pleasure while she attended the University of Montana in the early 2000s, and H is for Hellgate, a band she started after moving to Seattle in 2003. In recent years, she’s played in an electronic side project with Jenn Champion (aka “S”) of Carissa’s Wierd, and she filled in on bass for El Paso’s Le Butcherettes during that band’s U.S./Canada tour. That stint was an adventure, Aux says. She shared the stage with frontwoman Teri Gender Bender, who’s known for provocative live shows featuring props (a bloody pig’s head, for instance). During Aux’s time with the band, she got to spend time with the Mars Volta and At The Drive-In, and open for the Melvins and Faith No More.
But Aux’s solo projects have been her passion, and hers alone. That’s why her most recent record, Close the Circle, featuring several guest musicians, feels like a turning point.
“I’ve proved I can do it all myself,” Aux says. “And now I feel a little more open to collaboration.”
Close the Circle has a lot of sonic similarities to the garage rock, psychedelia and angular guitar on Aux’s past records. But the songwriting is tighter, and Aux has added some moody electronic stylings, which provide a desert-rock feel well-suited to solo cross-country road trips when the sun sets and the mind turns inward. It’s still very much an Aux record, but it was mixed by Chris Common (of Le Butcherettes and These Arms Are Snakes), and the musical burden is shared with guest drummers and vocalists.
“I still did a lot of it myself, because it’s just kind of how I work,” Aux says. “But having a few other people give performances on the record — it was a nice element that was definitely a new thing for me.”
Aux is letting go even more now, having just moved from her longtime home in Seattle to Brooklyn. And she’s decided to shift her focus to new pursuits, including photography, furniture-making and mixed-martial arts. What remains consistent is her ever-present desire to master new skills. As for music, she’ll see what happens.
“I want it to be a little more organic,” she says. “I want to have those musical opportunities present themselves to me, instead of always chasing them down.”