“I think I’m cautious. Not because I feel too precious, but because I’m an observer,” says Aimee Osbourne, a.k.a. ARO, in referring to her noted reticence from media fame and the reality TV spotlight that has come to define her notorious family. As the daughter of Ozzy and Sharon, one might surmise that “doing your own thing” could be difficult. However, Aimee has quietly been paving a way for herself in the music industry, her efforts culminating in her forthcoming debut EP. If it were fame she was after, she could have had it, years ago, and instantly, by starring on Ozzy Osbourne’s MTV reality show The Osbournes along with her younger siblings. Instead, at age sixteen, Aimee shunned family fame and embraced anonymity to pursue her musical ambitions.
Aimee released her debut single “Raining Gold” to critical acclaim, coming out swinging as the dark horse of the family. She cites her influences as Erykah Badu, Johnny Cash, Björk, Massive Attack, Kate Bush, the Talking Heads and of course, her father’s iconic macabre sensibilities undeniably run in her veins as well. For having grown up in a whirlwind, Aimee has managed to keep a clear perspective on the trappings of fame.
Having recently released tracks “I Can Change” and “Cocaine Style”, which is her own commentary on the illusions of success in the context of the entertainment industry, Aimée plans to release her debut EP this year, with a tour to follow. She has also announced a highly anticipated performance at SXSW music festival in Austin, Texas this March. Read our exclusive interview with the rising songstress for The #GirlPower Issue below.
Indira Cesarine: You come from a very colorful background being an Osbourne. Tell me about your decision to not participate in the whole reality gig of your family. I understand you wanted to be taken more seriously as an artist and that was part of your choice to not go down that path?
ARO: It didn’t really feel like a decision, it was almost like a natural reflex. Not doing the show was something just as natural as waking up in the morning and brushing my teeth. It wasn’t something that I thought about; I knew it wasn’t going to be right for me.
IC: That’s really interesting and obviously as a result of that you’ve had a rather reclusive, mysterious reputation. Is that something that you feel ready to break free from now that your releasing your own music or do you want to continue to have a rather low profile as an artist, to not be in the public eye?
A: I think for me I will always protect my private life and establish that very strong boundary. But as far as having to obviously have somewhat of a public persona that will go hand in hand with what I’m choosing to do, which is music, I understand what that entails. I just think that it gets really messy when people who choose to have more of a private life don’t know how important it is to establish that really firm boundary from the get go and never break that. That’s just something that I don’t feel like I will break.
IC: I can imagine growing up with your circumstances, you probably have seen with your own eyes the need for that. I know that in previous interviews you’ve mentioned that you’ve felt misrepresented by your reclusiveness, like people took it the wrong way. Can you elaborate on that?
A: Its not that I felt that masses of people were curious about me. Its just that the times that I happened to get brought up or there was some interest, it was always in a light where it felt that just because I had chosen not to do what the rest of my family did, that there must be something wrong with me. I think it was an interesting place people automatically go because nowadays its inconceivable for something not to want to be famous and rich and out there and have access to everything. But you know, as you mentioned before, growing up around that environment you see it a little differently.
IC: How old were you when realized that you wanted to be a musician yourself? Was there a defining moment?
A: I was always a little bit of a loner. I would spend hours in my room just listening to all kinds of music and watching all these different independent films. I knew that I was a creative person. I was not an academic. I was not someone who craved a very structured kind of predictable professional life. I always knew that I wanted to be able to make a life for myself by doing something creative. But I think I really accepted that it was music when I was around fifteen. I kept it a secret that I could sing, that I could write songs and lyrics because I think its natural to not want to do what your parents do. And that crossover too, because on paper everyone wants to be a professional musician and live in a fantasy world. It was still what my parents did and I didn’t want them to think I was jumping on their bandwagon. Around fifteen and sixteen, I started to accept that and explore how I could grow into that.
IC: And do you think that your dad’s work influenced your sound and style at all?
A: I think naturally your sort of genetically going to have some similarities, that’s just nature. As far as his style goes, no, but naturally I do tend to lean towards more of the darker stuff. One can argue that he kind of embodies that, but we’re as similar as we are different I guess you could say!
IC: Was he ever a mentor to you as a musician?
A: I didn’t stay in my room listening to album after album. There are many albums that he has that I’ve never even heard. As far as being an inspiring person and role model, personally from more a parental and friendship standpoint, yes of course. I have a huge amount of respect and admiration for all he’s accomplished and the timespan of his career and how he continues to kind of grow. You go to his shows and there are four-year-olds and seventy-five-year-olds there. That’s how you know you’ve really captured something incredible when you’re able to touch that broad scale of age.
IC: What other musical influences have you been drawn to as an artist, when you were young versus now?
A: I loved everything from Erykah Badu and Sade to Portishead, Massive Attack, PJ Harvey Minnie Riperton, and The Carpenters. I used to like a lot of Tool. So it’s just such a huge range of things!
IC: Is there any particular reason you think your so drawn to such an eclectic mix?
A: I think they all kind of have something in common which is being moody and atmospheric and sort of melancholic, but also kind of deep and esoteric as well. I think the atmospheric quality that they all seem to share would probably be what links them all together for me.
IC: Yeah, I can see that. I understand that your moniker, ARO, is actually your initials. Why did you decide to go with that as your band name, rather then Aimée Osbourne?
A: First of all, it didn’t sound very artistic just to have my name! It can be boring because I’ve had it my whole life and I wanted something a little bit different. But at the same time I was very proud of my name and that felt like a natural happy medium where it was still kind of creative and different, but wasn’t denying anything really.
IC: Tell me about your track “Raining Gold”? What was your inspiration behind it?
A: Well, there’s never really a plan for writing songs. I’ll help build a track with someone that I’m writing with. They kind of sit there and you channel into an artistic stream of consciousness and you look up from the paper and you’ve written all these lyrics. You put them together and you kind of channeled an experience from either something personal to something that’s inspired me. For me, its never something super premeditated or thought out. It’s what kind of happens during that particular writing session and that’s just what happened during that session.
IC: And the video is really edgy, kind of like a zombie movie, I loved it. What was the creative inspiration behind the video?
A: The director that I worked with, Spencer Susser, is a very good friend of mine. We went to a couple of locations and started brainstorming and we came across this dining car. I sat in there and he kind of just starting filming me on his iPhone and trying to become inspired from that little video. Later that evening he called me and was like, I think I figured it out. At first I was a little apprehensive because I was like, ‘gosh that sounds a little gory and hard core.’ But then I just trusted him and his aesthetic and his vision, just him as a person intrinsically and I was like okay, I’m gonna jump for this one even though I’m a little nervous that I might come off a little too dark. But it turned out great and I couldn’t be happier.
IC: Yeah, it’s also very romantic in a way. Its beautifully shot. I noticed in the video you’re also very mysterious in the sense that you don’t see your face straight away. You kind of maintain a level of mysteriousness throughout. That’s definitely something that you have cultivated.
A: It’s never something that is thought out, which is sort of funny, that whole mystery thing. I’m kind of just doing my own thing and kind of being myself and that word kind of follows me wherever I go. It’s pretty funny.
IC: Do you think your shy? Do you think that could have something to do with it?
A: I think I’m cautious and not because I feel too precious, but I’m more of an observer. Even maybe being raised in England, I think most British people are a little bit more reserved at first. I think it’s a combination of a little bit of shyness, being an observer, cultural, and also growing up in a public and out-there situation. You definitely get a little bit more vulnerable and cautious of people and their motives. So I think it’s a mixture of all those things.
IC: Yeah, that makes sense. So what are some of the tracks your excited about that are going to be on the EP besides “Raining Gold”?
A: I think “Shared Something” is a really great track, super edgy and different. Then there’s “Cocaine Style” [which] was a really fun song too, which I hope is received well. We definitely put a lot of work in it and I think everyone’s really excited.
“COCAINE STYLE” VIDEO
IC: What was your inspiration behind “Cocaine Style”?
A: I think that growing up around a lot of kids who got into that one particular drug and I think living in L.A there’s a lot of privilege and a lot of excess. You combine those things with nightlife and usually it equals cocaine. I never went there with any of that kind of stuff, just from choosing to acknowledge the reality of consistent use of any of that never equals success and happiness for anyone – no matter what. I didn’t ever go there and then again, being more of an observer, watching all of that stuff go down and how it would change people. Especially to me, being young and going out and seeing all different types of people and seeing how it would motivate them. It was almost like all of the people I used to watch do that stuff never liked it, they were just trying to fit in. All those kinds of things you experience when you’re young growing up in a major city and all that stuff.
IC: What about your song “I Can Change”, can you tell me about that one?
A: I’ve been a huge LCD [Soundsystem] fan and a few years ago I saw them at the Hollywood Bowl. I think it was one of the best live shows I’ve ever been to and that song always really resonated with me. I always wanted to do my own take on it, which is make it a little bit more heartfelt and melancholy. It was a little bit more tongue and cheek the way they did it, which is what I loved about it – they always embodied that kind of ironic sarcasm and then still make it great. It’s a very hard emotion to capture in a song without it sounding silly and they’ve kind of mastered that. The lyrics are so beautiful and I think you can actually tap into the more vulnerable side of the song, which is there too with my version.
IC: Do you have a title for the new EP?
A: It’s just going to be self-titled.
IC: That makes sense for your first. What do you feel has been one of the more challenging aspects of your career so far?
A: I think just the stopping and starting; the one step forward and four steps back. I think people don’t realize how challenging it can be in the music industry in general to actually get a body of work complete, and meeting the right people. There are so many different layers and people involved and the end result is this album and if you don’t know anything about how it all gets put together and made, you just assume ‘oh they went into the studio and recorded it for a few days and it came out great and now I’m listening to it and it’s amazing’. It’s a lot more complicated and I think just the time it took was really challenging for me, but looking back I wouldn’t change anything about that, because it forced me to really grow in a lot of ways and taught me a lot.
IC: Would you consider yourself a feminist?
A: I don’t like titles because I find they immediately isolate people. But do I believe in women being treated fairly in every way? Of course. I’m also not going to give myself a title because I think that should just be a natural way of thinking for everyone, to the point that it doesn’t need to be categorized. It should be just like a traffic light, we need those to survive and stay safe, and I think it should be the same for women’s rights.
IC: Obviously the music industry has been known for being rather male dominated, what do you think about that?
A: I’ve never looked it that way, because there are so many female artists that I absolutely adore. If anything I feel that’s more of the situation for Hollywood and the movie industry seems to be more male dominated. I feel that now more than ever what’s really changing for females in music is that they are not just incredibly talented and inspiring, but solid women who are great role models and aren’t just sexualizing themselves or indulging in trashy behavior. Now more than ever there’s some really elegant, creative, beautiful, strong women that are making their art and are being incredible at it.
IC: Are there any particular causes that you find are important to support?
A: Yes of course, I am involved with the Environmental Media Association out here in California and that’s just something that I do on the down low. It’s not something that I’m promoting, its more of a hands on thing. I always try to be a little bit green with whatever I do, because we only have one planet at the moment and we’re doing a pretty good job at destroying it, so I’m always pretty conscious of that stuff. I really hope to get involved with all kinds of charity, especially with learning disabilities. I grew up with dyslexia and I really struggled with that. That’s been really close to my heart to be able to support low-income families that have children with learning disabilities. Or not even having to do with what the incomes are but just getting more information out there to all children from different kinds of backgrounds. Even being creative and knowing that creative people learn differently.
IC: Yeah, that’s definitely very important. I didn’t realize you great up with dyslexia.
A: If anything I would like to take away the stigma of it being a disability, to it being more of a creative learner than an academic learner. I think there are two different types of learners and maybe even a third. In my experience, I don’t think it’s a disability, so much as I think it’s an ignorance of not knowing how to teach the more creative types. I would love to bring some type of awareness to that at some point because that’s something that I really struggled with. I think that’s a real shame and I think that’s how a lot of kids end up becoming discouraged and selling themselves short, because they’re basically being told in a polite way that they’re stupid and being told they’re disabled when really its not that way.
IC: Do you think that has affected your work as an artist having to go through that experience as a child and growing up?
A: I think if anything it definitely hindered my self-confidence and I never thought I would be able to do things like other people because that’s basically what I was told at a very young age. To be fair, it was pretty early, before people knew what it meant to be dyslexic. I’m very much over that now. I figured out how I learn best and through self teaching I’ve kind of overcome most of my dyslexia. I still see it, every now and then I’ll read something differently. I have trouble focusing as well, which is a challenge that mediation really helps me overcome and I think there are artists with all of these types of things and people just need to wake up and open their minds up a little.
IC: Yeah absolutely. Do you have any advice for someone who wanted to have a career as a musician?
A: Just know that just because it doesn’t seem like a smooth, easy, quick ride, doesn’t mean that its not the right choice. Expect that all good things in life that are worth anything take time and work. To really focus on developing who you are as a person because when you’re solid within yourself your art is all the more authentic and energetically takes on a more successful pace. Don’t be influenced by people who try and tell you how to sound, look and feel. I think it just takes a combination of patience, inner strength, and belief.
IC: Are there any words of wisdom that you personally live by?
A: Yeah, I think what you put out, you get back. Some people call that karma. I think for me, I noticed that now that I feel much more secure with who I am, I really notice how significant that is and how that really does apply to everyone. I notice it with myself and with other people all the time. I think that also compassion for other people and not assuming and judging why someone does something. Also for me, learning not to take things too personally because at the end of the day we’re in control of our own feelings and decisions. I think really embracing that is crucial for any kind of success whether it be personal or professional.
Interview, photography and styling by Indira Cesarine for The Untitled Magazine
Hair by Anthony Joseph Hernandez
Makeup by Roberto Morelli
Go behind the scenes with Aimée Osbourne aka ARO on our shoot for The Untitled Magazine’s #GirlPower Issue: