Aether Haze is a rapper from East Bethel, Minnesota, a city located roughly thirty miles from Minneapolis.
For years, Haze has mesmerized listeners by combining unique instrumentals with deeply personal lyrics, in turn creating a style of music that reminds many underground fans of the late Lil Peep, a hugely popular artist who revolutionized the way songs were created before his tragic overdose in 2017.
In many ways, Haze is indeed similar to Lil Peep, not only in the way they both blend different genres of music in order to create their own style, but also in the way they experienced the world growing up.
“I was a little goofy,” Haze says of his childhood. “I had my friends, but they were of the nerdy variety.”
Haze then mentions that his life was relatively normal until his parents unexpectedly divorced when he was twelve, at which point the stability he had grown accustomed to gradually disintegrated.
“The divorce made me kind of an angry kid,” Haze admits, but it didn’t detract from him remaining a jovial class clown who thrived off making others laugh.
Still, adopting a comedic persona often felt like a defense mechanism for the young Haze, who adds that there were moments where he felt judged and out of place, even if those thoughts weren’t substantiated by his peers.
“I was generally well-liked, even though it felt like I wasn’t,” Haze says.
An empath with a huge heart, Haze later fell in love with his high school sweetheart, defying modern convention and becoming engaged before they each accepted their diplomas.
Sadly, the engagement never progressed beyond that, and in 2017 the couple decided to separate.
Naturally, the breakup had a detrimental effect on Haze’s happiness, but it also allowed him to devote more time to refining his craft as a rapper.
See, in the early stages of his career, Haze drew inspiration from household names like Flo Rida and Lil Wayne, but after his relationship ended, his playlist, and subsequent influences had expanded to include the likes of Insane Clown Posse, a hip-hop duo from Detroit who are known for their flamboyant costumes and unapologetic lyrics.
“What I like about Insane Clown Posse is that they’re angry, but they’re also goofy and funny. They’re two dudes from Detroit who wear clown makeup,” Haze says.
“They are an act, but I have always loved artists who put on a good act, whether they were a rapper or someone like Kiss.”
Considering that Haze grew up listening to country music, it is surprising that he now looks to countercultural icons like Insane Clown Posse for inspiration, but Haze himself has never looked at the mainstream and found salvation, which helps explain why the East Bethel native has spent years working on becoming a better artist, all the while knowing that financial success may never come.
But ask Haze what drives him to get back in the studio every day, and his answer has nothing to do with whatever level of commercial success may find him.
“What keeps me going is my sanity. Music is my stress relief. It’s the one thing that makes sense to me that many people know nothing about,” Haze explains.
“I love creating something and then understanding how to create that very same thing because I have already gone through the process.”
This commitment to improvement also translates to the stage, a place that, like the studio, offers peace from a chaotic outside world, even though the compensation Haze receives for his live performances is far from self-sustaining.
“The money doesn’t matter,” Haze emphasizes. “I just get so much satisfaction from doing music and performing. It’s in my blood.”
By day, Haze can be seen rocking headphones and studying the techniques of the rap industry’s most heralded names, but once the sun sets and Haze gets on stage, his gentle and soft-spoken demeanor give way to all the repressed emotions he has been harboring.
“When I’m on stage, I get to let out all these different emotions, and people are usually in awe because they can tell that I am all about my craft,” Haze says.
That same ferocity can be experienced in Haze’s music videos on YouTube, a modest collection that currently taps into Haze’s preference for a darker aesthetic.
“The music videos are where I like to tie in my influence from horror movies and combine that with the weird, demented side of my brain,” he says.
“I like to go all out and bring a cinematic perspective to music videos, and that’s why the horror genre becomes vital to what I’m trying to do because I like makeup and costumes, but there also has to be a narrative that works in conjunction with the music that’s in the videos.”
Like other undiscovered artists, so far Haze is finding that landing a coveted gig or getting his music heard by the right person is no easy task, but that reality also hasn’t stymied his faith in what he’s doing.
“I know it’s going to be really hard to make it. I’m still trying to grasp how I’m going to build an audience, and that’s something that I’m touching on in my upcoming album,” Haze insists, adding that no matter what the future has in store for him, the only thing he constantly thinks about is how to improve as a creative.
“I’m not worried about my success because I get such a reward from making music. It will always be something that I strive to do, which is why I don’t care about how much money I invest into my career. I am more passionate about producing something great and getting it out there.”
At this juncture of his career, Haze’s unwavering self-belief is warranted, particularly because as he plays more shows and his views online increase, his fanbase only seems to continue to grow.
“Perhaps a lot of musicians hear this, but I have gotten a lot of feedback from people who listen to my music, and they tell me that I’m something beyond just a rapper,” Haze says.
“When I hear things like that, it does make me feel like there is a chance that I might make it in this crazy world.” QS
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