AJ Haynes is the lead vocalist for Seratones, an American soul-rock band formed in Shreveport, Louisiana in 2013. Born out of the Louisiana club circuit, Seratones rose to national recognition in 2016 after the success of their debut album, Get Gone, and their viral NPR Tiny Desk Concert. The band’s second album, Power, was released on New West Records in 2019. Their new album, Love & Algorhythms, drops in April.
1. What gets your motor running, artistically?
Afrofuturism. And getting lots of uninterrupted quiet time.
2. Seratones came up through the Louisiana club circuit. How did that environment, and all those smaller gigs, prepare the band for success?
Cutting our teeth in the DIY scene made me have to innovate and learn how to do take on promotion, production, and all of the other elements of a performance space.
3. Tell us about the name “Seratones.” What does it mean?
It was originally “Ceratones,” “cera” meaning wax in Spanish. A play on the phrase “put it on wax.” Conceptually, I wanted to create a band that would pay tribute to the Black matriarchal lineage of rock & roll. I’m now less inclined to categorize the band as rock & roll, but I still continue to pay homage to Black feminism and the diaspora.
4. You’ve done a lot of work around women’s reproductive rights. How does your passion and activism inform your art?
Reproductive justice is my home. To me, music and reproductive justice both impact howe we shape our families in safe and sustainable environments. So, they work together. Without Reproductive Justice — specifically, working to ensure abortion access — I would not be the artist I am today.
5. Despite your band’s roots in the blues, you also have a passion for punk rock. What do punk and the blues have in common?
Both came from gospel and the African diaspora. And both have historically been commodified to erase said lineage.
6. Your band seems to combine a ton of different influences, from jazz and blues and gospel to classic Southern rock, and even hints of Latin and Caribbean music. How do you keep it all contained?
I’m just true to my experiences. I’m most interested in music as a vibrational language, as a means of healing, as a means to transmit and transfigure struggle into light and life-force.