Explore Hollywood’s Dark Underbelly in Aimée Osbourne a.k.a ARO's “Cocaine Style”
Osbourne talks the seamy side of drugs, fame, and loss, and why she finally decided to step into the spotlight and make music.
Shakespeare famously wrote, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name, would smell as sweet.” While appreciative of her background, singer-songwriter Aimée Osbourne has refuted any opportunity that comes solely from her last name, passed on by her infamous father Ozzy, and thus tying her to the seemingly opposed worlds of Black Sabbath and reality TV. She purposefully avoided the cameras and tabloid-centric antics to pursue a more genuine lifestyle. As a result, she’s been able to quietly cultivate her own music career—under the name ARO (prounounced arrow)—one that’s slowly blossoming with an EP due this March, an upcoming stint at SXSW, and the release of her music video “Cocaine Style,” premiering below.
The track begins with ominous, quivering bells over a subdued beat, with Aimée’s sleek voice gliding on top—it's a moody kind of noir pop. She starts with a reference to her father—“You’re no Dark Prince / Just a scam artist,” essentially giving someone a reality check about how lame their druggy lifestyle is. Directed by Spencer Susser, the video features a mixture of eccentric staples from the streets of Hollywood and similar looking actors. We talked to Aimee about creating the video, the downside of drugs, and her adamant disgust for sleazy fame. We called up Ms. Osbourne to find out more.
Noisey: Can you tell me what the song is about and how you came up with the title?
ARO: I don't know how to say it without sounding too judgmental, which is not what I want to do! I felt like I was around a lot of people at the time who were doing a lot of cocaine, and it wasn't so much the cocaine that was the issue. It was the sense of entitlement and the sense of being untouchable and using this drug as some type of a glamorous accessory. I don't know, I just found it to be kind of bizarre. I don't know at what point in history doing that consistently has ever resulted in anything particularly positive. At the time too, in particular, I felt really let down by someone that's quite close to me and I just thought, "You know what? I don't want to sit here and be this resentful person.” I would rather write something about it and have a creative outlet, and hopefully other people can relate to that, too.
I think it's not just about cocaine as I was saying before. I think it's about when people choose to really indulge in the negative parts of themselves and totally neglect to consider how that affects people around them and ultimately themselves and their choices.
I like that it's called "Cocaine Style," too, because what you're describing is really a lifestyle.
Exactly! Exactly, yes. That's also why I came up with that. It's more of an attitude and a rather unpleasant energy, and a lot of people unfortunately fool themselves into thinking they became victims to it, but really I think ultimately it's a choice. For some people they have to go to that dark energy to be able to come back and really appreciate who they really are and what they really want.
Where did you find the characters in your video?
Well, everything I do has to have a lot of authenticity to it. So I really wanted to have people in the video that have in some way either possibly made some not so great decisions and came back from that as well as people that are also kind of judged by their appearance where they could look like they’re possibly crazy or a drug addict but they're just kind of unique and that's just not the way it is at all. So the video just kind of took on its own interpretation of the song as well, which speaks to the 'Don't judge a book by its cover" angle.
There were a couple of people in the video that I was speaking to and they had gone through a lot of battles with different vices, and they talked about what they learned from it. There are a couple of scenes of people screaming and crying, and all of that's really real and authentic. A couple of friends of mine who live in an area of Hollywood knew of people that they’d see just kind of walking around. You know, they’re definitely more on the eccentric side and they asked if they’d want to be a part of this video and they were really excited and into it. It was really amazing seeing how excited they were because I think a lot of people in the video seem really ostracized and a lot of people just don’t talk to them or you know see them as a human being. So that again brought another layer of something quite powerful to the song with the video.
I feel like in living in New York or Los Angeles, you pass people like this on the street every day and just don’t pay attention to them.
Exactly. I won’t directly tell you which character it was in the video but there was one woman in particular who was actually very conservative, very well put-together, educated, and you know, has a very nice, respectable life. When she’s performing in the video, you would never know because she’s wearing nothing that would give you any of those signifiers but yet it kind of proves that we are all suffering at some point in our lives, and we’ve all gone through something that made us feel ashamed and alone. It doesn’t matter if it’s someone that you think is homeless or someone that you think looks like they could be married to a politician. I think that what links all of us together is the struggle of what it is to be human.
At first you were pretty against the idea of doing music. What made you want to give in?
Well I think for me the struggle was… I am not someone that is attracted to fame and what comes with that. It took me a long time to get to a place within myself where I was confident and able to accept that there possibly could be an element of that, and how I would handle it and make it work for me so that I wasn’t becoming someone who couldn’t handle it, and therefore ultimately being not such a great example. Because that’s really important to me to. I think a lot of people who are privileged to have that kind of awareness forget that it’s not just about you being famous.
When you’re famous, you have a certain sense of responsibility because so many people are looking at you for inspiration and for influence. You know, in my early twenties, I did not feel solid within myself. I felt very vulnerable and I wasn’t very confident, and I think it’s something for me personally that’s super important—if you’re going to get to a place where you are exposed to a lot of people, that you’re being honest and authentic and you’re not just leaving clubs looking hammered or talking trash about people in the press and you know, just indulging in that silliness that’s just sleazy ultimately. It’s indulgent and it’s lazy and to me; it doesn’t have anything to do with creative outlets or the music I was writing. I was like, “Is it worth it for me to have to possibly go through that?” And then when I realized that it was a choice and that I could manage this in a way that works for me, I really wanted to give it 100 percent.
You in particular have to put a lot of effort into avoiding that kind of fame. Even in this video, the focus isn’t really on you.
That’s another thing that I was at a certain point kind of confused about. I think that being a musician and writing songs is such an amazing way to collaborate with other artists like directors and actors and I think sometimes it’s not necessary to have every single video—and especially with females in music—not every female musician needs to be riding around in a midriff to get noticed. And of course I think it’s important to show your image with your art to a degree, but I don’t think it has to be all about that all of the time.
Who are some of the musicians that inspire you and have lived the type of authentic, artistic lifestyle you’re describing?
Kate Bush is a huge inspiration for me. Growing up I really loved Mazzy Star, The Cranberries, Fiona Apple, Everything But The Girl. I listened to a lot of really random things too that I would find by myself. I would find Minnie Riperton albums that I would fall in love with, also, a lot of old country records. Things would speak to me if I could really feel an element of authenticity and rawness to them. I was never really drawn to things that were too manufactured, although there is so much pop that I absolutely adore and find inspiration as well. I’m definitely more drawn to something a little bit darker and edgier.
What kind of themes did you find yourself writing a lot about on the EP?
I’ve written a lot about going through heartache and the growing pains of coming to the realization that it’s never about the love we think someone else can give us. It’s about what we have inside of us that we can give someone else. And just because someone leaves your life doesn’t mean that the love that you have is gone. Loss is something that I think is ultimately the number one struggle for humans. I think that for me, coming to terms with that and accepting it or being OK with it, and kind of letting go of trying to control that in any way is definitely something that in the past I’ve gotten a lot of inspiration from. From writing about that, it’s also helped me overcome a lot of the struggles I was having.
Do you like performing live?
The more you do it the more you enjoy it, in my experience. At first I think if I allowed myself to really pick it apart, it would probably be a lot more difficult. It’s just something that I really try to be in the moment with and not overthink everything. It’s a really interesting extension of being a musician. There’s this whole other world that you have to venture into and I think a lot of the time for a lot of musicians, performing on stage in front of people doesn’t feel the most natural. But I’ve gotten to a stage where I really do enjoy it and I’m looking forward for having that open up more for me creatively and with my confidence and everything like that, because I’m also really interested in everything that goes along with performing live. I really love to have beautiful visuals playing and amazing lighting and create this kind of world that the music exists in solely, and I really enjoy that whole process.
What would define success for you when it comes to music?
It’s not about the amount of albums or the amount of songs that I write or any awards whatsoever. That stuff isn’t what moves me or motivates me. For me personally, it’s about being able to touch someone, inspire someone, help someone through something, and make people feel not so alone at different stages in life and bringing people together with music. It’s really about being able to touch and speak to other people, whether that’s because they’re struggling or not. That’s really my true inspiration.