Pride Month Feature: Queer Pop Soul Artist Criibaby Tells All With Pride-Inspired AURA Pigment
You heard it here first—get an inside look at LGBTQIA+ artist Criibaby’s first EP!
Here at AURA, we’re celebrating Pride Month with some of our favorite creators in the LGBTQIA+ space. To get the party started, we sat down with Pop Soul, gender-neutral artist Jae Riley, known as Criibaby, and got the scoop on her upcoming and intentionally inclusive EP “love songs for everyone.”
Criibaby’s music premiered on Billboard and scored airtime on BBC Radio 6, received praise from Bandcamp’s New and Noteworthy editors, as well as POPSUGAR and Refinery29, and was featured in tastemaker outlets EARMILK and Stereofox, in addition to LGBTQIA+ focused magazines like DIVA and GO Mag.
While you’re enjoying your personalized AURA Ritual, pop on her song “Sunshine” right here, and dive into our inclusive interview:
Q1. Hey, Jae, tell us a little bit about the voice you created for Criibaby.
As a queer artist and activist, my main goal is to completely redefine inclusive music for all. For this reason, my song lyrics are gender-neutral and written from a queer perspective, avoiding gender-specific words like “she” or “he.” Instead of promoting a heteronormative, gender binary-focused viewpoint of relationships, every song is about inclusivity so anyone can connect with my music, no matter how they identify.
Q2. What do you do to celebrate Pride Month, and beyond?
To me, pride is about two things: contributing to the LGBTQIA+ community and celebrating my queer identity. Pride began as a riot, bravely led by trans BIPOC folks—it’s important to remember that because although they paved the way for the progress toward equality that many of us enjoy today, there is still so much work we need to do to battle discrimination and oppression.
June is a great time to pay it forward by donating to organizations like The Marsha P. Johnson Institute or The Trevor Project. Both work to protect some of the most vulnerable people within the LGBTQIA+ community: trans youth and trans people of color.
Q3. What inspires you to create?
In a way, creating is my tool for opening up a dialogue with myself. I create as a means of self-expression. Through songwriting, I come to understand myself in a way that’s unlike anything else. Sometimes I don’t even know why I’m feeling a certain emotion until I work through a song about it. I also love to express myself through my fashion and of course, my hair!
Q4. How does being a queer woman affect the way you make music? Is there a message you’d like to share?
My message is simple: Queer people belong.
Everywhere: in the workplace, on stage, in families, on TV, in public, and everywhere in between. Representation is a critical way to drive cultural change and intentional community building.
As a straight-passing bisexual and femme-presenting woman, it’s critical for my queer identity to be made public, and with pride. While it’s true that my intentionally gender-neutral music is for everyone, it’s also meant to fill a void for LGBTQIA+ people who don’t feel like they relate to popular love songs because of the pronouns and heteronormativity most of that music is drenched in.
Q5. Who are some of your favorite music or beauty icons? What about them draws you to them?
Hayley Kiyoko and Phoebe Bridgers are two of my favorite queer pop icons. They are both bringing queer culture into the mainstream, and everything they do has an element of elegance, yet they remain relatable, silly, and authentic. They have brought so much joy to so many LGBTQIA+ people!
Q6. What’s the best hair/beauty advice you’ve ever received and why?
The best hair and beauty advice I’ve ever received came from a total stranger who struck up a conversation with me because he wanted to know if my hair was naturally auburn—which it is! We got to talking about our favorite hair colors and cuts because he was a stylist and I mentioned I have always had the same, long hairstyle all my life.
His suggestion was simple: Don’t be afraid to try something new! I took his advice and decided to cut my hair shorter than I ever had- and I loved it!
Q7. What’s your AURA Ritual? What are your hair goals, what’s your aroma, and did you pick a temporary pigment?
My AURA Ritual is a gentle and luscious foray into my new self-care hair Ritual that soothes, smoothes, and moisturizes. My AURA aroma is called Botanical Dream which literally smells like I am frolicking through gorgeous fields of lavender in the French countryside and I am so here for it!
I’ve also chosen a super fun temporary pigment in one of the Fantasy shades called “Kyoto Purple,” which is PERFECT for me. Purple is my favorite color because it represents “spirit” in the rainbow pride flag and also symbolizes support for the entire LGBTQIA+ community. It’s also a great metaphor for being bisexual—I’m not half blue and half red, I’m a completely separate, beautiful shade all my own!
Q8. Why do you think personalized beauty is important? How does it make you feel to know everything is made specifically for you?
Everyone is unique. We all have different things that move us, that comfort us, that bring us joy. This pride, I’m celebrating me. Self-care is about recognizing the little details of your life and being intentional about bringing yourself joy.
Thanks to AURA, I was able to replace my mundane drugstore shampoo with something that’s tailor-made and perfectly complements my needs; my Ritual jumpstarts my very own hair care journey as part of my ever-evolving self-care practice. I feel so special every time I use it!
Q9. At AURA we believe that hair is powerful and personalized beauty can lead you toward endless possibilities. How has your hair changed over the years and is it part of your persona?
For most of my life, I’ve had the same long hairstyle and I’ve never changed my hair color. But after coming out to my family and releasing my debut EP, I’m not afraid to try new things and live life out loud- which is why I’m jumping headfirst into dyeing my hair purple!
Q10. What makes you believe in Endless Possibilities?
I’ve heard queer celebrities talk about coming out and living your truth as feeling like you’re finally becoming that person you really needed but never had when you were young. If I had seen someone who looked like me onstage taking up space as a queer artist, it would have really helped me understand my identity and feel like I belonged. That still really resonates with me because I feel that now more than ever I can do things I was once too afraid to dream of.
As I began to let go of society’s expectations of me and focus on what I really wanted, what brought ME joy, it was instantly rewarding, and I realized the possibilities really are endless. If you put your mind to it, you can do it. I released my very first song. My single got played on the radio. My debut EP premiered on Billboard. I’ve been working so hard to live my truth and make these dreams come true- so how could I not believe in Endless Possibilities!
Q11. Is there anything else you’d like to share?
While Pride is a great time to be an ally to LGBTQIA+ people, make sure to support queer artists and businesses year-round! The best way to support LGBTQIA+ creators is to buy their work from them directly to ensure queer voices are loud and proud, beyond just the month of June! You can buy my EP on Bandcamp here or stream it on your platform of choice here.
Inspired? There’s so much more to come on our Instagram @aurahaircare including interviews, pigment inspo, hair care, styling tips, and giveaways. As always, share your #mirrormoments with us and you might be featured in our feed.