VEAUX’s “Tell Me That You Love Me” Examines Life as a Black Man in a Conservative Community (premiere)

VEAUX's Aaron Wagner wrote their latest single, "Tell Me That You Love Me", as a direct response to his experiences growing up as a Black liberal in a white conservative town.

VEAUX began as Medic, an indie rock outlet that played alongside the likes of Blondie and Dinosaur Jr. Comprised of Aaron Wagner, Andrew Black, and Dominick Wagner, they’ve since refocused their energies on developing layered indie pop under their new moniker. Their latest single, though, finds a middle ground between the sounds that they’ve become known for, merging their pop with heated alternative grit. It comes with good reason, too, given its subject matter—”Tell Me That You Love Me” is an exploration of the racial, cultural, and political unrest that is now rising throughout the United States.

The new track, as Aaron Wagner recalls, is a look into his upbringing as a Black liberal raised in a white conservative town. He and his brother, VEAUX drummer Dominic, were adopted into a very religious Christian household—with Aaron even briefly working at a megachurch. The two VEAUX brothers have literally spent their entire lives so far fighting through prejudice layered on by their own community. “Tell Me That You Love Me” is written and performed as a reaction to this prejudice, its lyric video featuring Aaron front-and-center as he delivers the searing song in a forward, matter-of-fact way. Industrial riffs between verses recall art-pop and rock this side of Gorillaz as Aaron unleashes his truths.

Aaron tells PopMatters, “I started writing this song a year ago about my personal experience being a liberal Black kid growing up in a conservative white town. Although I had such a great childhood and many beautiful experiences, I did often feel like I didn’t belong. For as long as I can remember, I chased approval from teachers, pastors, coaches, friends, and girls to such an unhealthy degree. I didn’t just need to be someone’s friend; I needed to be their best friend. I didn’t need someone to love me; I needed all of their love. Last year was a painful year, and I came to a place where I needed to reclaim my identity as a Black man, but also as a human. I allowed my differences to create insecurity in me for so long, and I’m in a place in life where I want my differences to create strength in me. This song is very clearly stating my insecurities out in the open, but in a way, I hope people will identify.”

VEAUX tells PopMatters,” With the country being divided in race, we felt like this was a good time for a band that is 2/3rds Black to use our voices to talk about the subject from a truly personal place. Aaron and Dominick are black men, adopted and raised in a multicultural home that still had to endure the judgment of being black in a white town. With such a sensitive topic, our best hope is to be vulnerable and start being honest about our experiences.”

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