Ayesha Tan Jones 24 London
Categories: Artist, Musician

Posted: 27th November 2017

Ayesha Tan Jones has many strings to their bow. Predominately they're a non-binary artist and a musician. Ayesha is also co-founder of a kick ass self-defence class, a regular musician and performer on London’s circuit and has held a month-long residency at Yorkshire Sculpture Park this year. But if you ask Ayesha to explain what they do, they’ll reply modestly, “I make optimistically dystopian films, meditative sculptures and dream n bass music”.

Ayesha’s debut dystopian film was titled Indigo Zoom. What started as something of an experiment soon developed into a character-lead story about an “eco-superhero” who lives in an alternate reality and makes a silent commentary on London’s pressing pollution problems. Each concern mirrors Ayesha’s own feelings of being suffocated in a city in which basic human rights are in danger of being capitalised. It was back in February this year that Ayesha screened Indigo Zoom alongside an immersive sculptural installation at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, and it was during this residency that Ayesha birthed their next project – Whychcraft? – a film through which they've been educating themselves about witchcraft, and exploring in-depth the way that society interacts with nature.

When they're not crafting their art, Ayesha can be found hosting Shadow Sistxrs fight club with their best friend Monique Etienne (who we’re told is an ace wrestler). In short, it’s a meta-physical and physical self-defence class that provides a safe space for women, non-binary people and QTPOC to learn important self-protection skills, whilst being encouraged to metamorphose from “Worriers to Warriors”.

When they're performing and playing music, Ayesha goes by the name of YaYa Bones, and they play “music that will make u wanna go out and punch fascists, summon your ancestors and commune with trees”. But it’s Ayesha’s upcoming project – the YaYa Bones EP – that sees each of their skills fluidly combine. Encompassing a four track EP, it will also be accompanied by a concept music video directed by yours truly before being launched as part of a fundraiser for Shadow Sistxrs Fight club, so that Ayesha and Monique can keep running the classes on a donation basis. Over to you, YaYa.

Tell us about yourself and what you do:I am a non binary artist, musician and witch. I make optimistically dystopian films, meditative sculptures and dream n bass music. When I’m not doing that I’m out foraging for herbs and making healing potions. I feel like magic is a really powerful tool for womxn and queer people, it allows us to be in control of our own healing, to empower ourselves through ritual and craft is a very radical form of self-care. I run a self defence class called Shadow Sistxrs Fight Club, where I share some of this herbal learning. How did you come to start the Indigo Zoom project?Indigo Zoom began as an experimentation into costumes, masks and film making. But gradually the character began to develop into an eco-superhero, mirroring my own feelings of feeling suffocated in the city. Suffocated physically, due to the massive levels of pollution in London, but also spiritually, from the feeling of being trapped in a capitalist rat race. The plot line of the film evolved to be set in an alternative reality, where the government and corporations sell oxygen to the people, taxing air, and capitalising on our basic human right. Indigo Zoom’s character never speaks a word, but their actions are clear, they want to break free from the city, to find the source of clean airTell us about the journey since…I screened Indigo Zoom alongside an immersive sculptural installation back in February, which was my first ever solo show! Since then, I completed on a 4 week residency at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, which is the most magical place ever! 500 acres of beautiful landscape, woodland and lakes, filled with work from world renowned sculptors. It was an absolute dream, waking up in a 17th century archway house, taking a morning stroll through the land, foraging all kinds of wonderful plants to eat, surrounded by some of my inspirations like Niki de Saint Phalle, Ai Wei Wei, Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth! During my time there, I embarked on a new project, Whychcraft? A project through which I am trying to understand and learn more about witchcraft, but also question the knowledge which we are fed from society, and carve a new way of understanding and viewing the world through magic. It culminated in a film that followed a cyber druid from the future, who was exploring the desolate beauty of earth, following ley lines to seek out the answers they were searching for, why did their ancestors treated mother earth so badly? Alongside the film there were sculptures made from rusted metals, gnarly tree branches, and other found objects, fusing the natural with the synthetic. Tell us about Shadow Sistxrs…Shadow Sistxrs fight club is a meta-physical and physical self defence class! It was borne out of the idea to create a safe space for women, non binary people and QTPOC to learn skills to enable them to better protect themselves and their community. Each class is a ritual, we all share our wisdom, we empower each other, and we teach one another through our own understanding. My best friend Monique Etienne is a kick ass wrestler, and she teaches the physical aspect through Gracie JuJitsu techniques, and I lead the meta-physical element, which involves meditation, art therapy, before closing with a herbal tea ceremony.What should we expect if we came along to a class?Expect to feel fully welcomed in a magic queer space lit by candles, smudged with sage, while Erykah Badu plays. Expect to connect with your body on a level you may not have remembered you could. Expect to meet a stranger at the beginning of class and leave feeling like siblings. Expect to feel, and then over come barriers, mentally and physically. Expect to activate your inner strengths that have been there all along. Don’t be surprised if deep rooted feelings of trauma are triggered, but always remember that Shadow Sistxrs is a space to heal and to face our shadows face on. Together we support each other to grow together. Through Shadow Sistxrs we transmute from Worriers to Warriors. What goes down at one of your YaYa bones nights?Music that will make u wanna go out and punch fascists, summon your ancestors and commune with trees. Poetry to light candles to, to stomp your feet to a beat your heart to. Beats that will make you dutty wine in the physical realm and transcend into the cosmic slop that is everything outside of your consciousness. Or maybe you’ll hate my music and go home. But I doubt it :) What project have you been most proud of to date?I would say Shadow Sistxrs is the project I am most proud of. It's the first time I had ever done anything public facing and engaging with the community. It has taught me so so much, and i’ve learnt to connect a lot more with my queerness and my spirituality. It has given me a sense of family that I have always longed for, a coven of warrior witches. A day in the life of you…Wake up, do at least half an hour of yoga, thank the universe for a mother day of existence, set my intentions for the day and write a TO DO LIST. Say hey to my plants, water the veg patch, feed the axolotl. Feed myself with some delish vegan brekkie which will most definitely be smothered in peanut butter. Do my TO DOs using the mode of transports a) bike b) skateboard. Mostly my TO DOs are meetings (business & pleasure) and working on one of the multitude of art projects I try to juggle at one go.When are you happiest?SingingWho do you admire?My mama!! She works so hard at everything she sets her mind to! She has always been a prominent figure in her local community, politically and actively. She also started Chester’s first Chinese association, the Wah Lei, where the Chinese community gather to celebrate our culture, learn English, teach the kids Mandarin and build a sense of home in the small English town. She is a DIY QUEEN, and also psychic af, which isn’t always great when you’re trying to keep secrets from her, cos they won’t stay hidden. What's your current obsession?MAGICAL HERBALISM. Come to me if u wanna talk healing!Best party you've ever been to?Every BBZ night tbhWhat's your signature dish?Rice noodles, pak choi, mushrooms (foraged in the autumn) broccoli, any other veg I can get my hands on, all swimming in a soupy stock and lathered in Siracha chilli sauce!One item of clothing that best sums you up?My baseball cap that says VIRGO on it. What's next?YaYa Bones EP launch! it will be a 4 track EP with a concept music video that I’m working on, and the launch will be a fundraiser for Shadow Sistxrs Fight club, so we can keep running the classes on a donation basis. AND FINALLY...WHO IS YOUR NEXT BABYFACE GIRL SUGGESTION?Who: Nadine Artois
Why: Nadine is 1/4 of the amazing club night Pxssy Palace, which is a haven for the QTPOC community to express themselves, show off their looks and dance till dawn. Nadine is dedicated to creating safe spaces for the community, and actively speaks out against harassment or injustice.
Contact Ayesha Tan Jones