Hoechella debuts in Columbia, SC at New Brookland Tavern August 26-28. Hoechella’s goal is to raise awareness for slut shaming, rape culture, and unjust legislation that affects people’s bodily autonomy. As we count down the days to Hoechella, check out Ahomari Turner the face behind Cyberbae as we discuss Cyberbae’s music origins and slut shaming.
My work as Cyberbae is a bit complicated having to navigate in such a white male based scene. A lot of people here tend to create safe spaces for people who say racist and misogynistic things. Same people who also who perpetuated rape culture and high five each other because “boys will be boys” as that incredibly stupid saying says. It’s incredibly disgusting. A lot of men I come in contact with tend to treat me as a sexual object and while I do present myself in barely no clothes it doesn’t give anyone permission to grab and touch me without my consent. That’s something I’ve been dealing with since middle school that happens still to me. I’m already sexualized and fetishized alone on my blackness but my queerness and femmeness takes it to even more gross levels. People need to realize consent is a thing. People need to respect people’s spaces. Just cause you’re a cis man with a dick doesn’t mean a body you deemed desirable is owed to you. No one owes you anything. Maybe a swift kick and a punch in the face. I’m happy Hoechella exists because it is a space where we can talk about these things and find solutions or maybe we’ll just end up screaming “fuck you dude I am not yours” over and over again. That’s how I wish to discuss these things because people shouldn’t have to still fight for their rights but that’s the world we live in sadly where we’re not respected and treated equally. I do hope one day we get there. Hoechella is our two nights to feel safe for a while.
How did Cyberbae come to be? What has been your musical evolution?
Cyberbae simply happened to detach myself from my name as I felt it had been drowned. Last year I started to hate making music because of certain situations in my life. I had to regain my love for the thing I couldn’t live without and by that time I spent more time than usual on the internet. Like almost obsessive amounts. So Cyberbae started when I decided I could do it again and make new music I could truly be proud of. The project started out as commentary on social presence online and the relationships we build through screens and keyboards. How it’s sometimes cold and hard to read. How it’s sometimes warm and we project our own ideas of what that relationship is or idea is of someone. Almost like curating your own emotions while falling apart at the seams.
Then the music evolved into my current involvement with politics. I became very outspoken about black lives, queer POC lives, feminism that wasn’t just about white women. My music started reflecting that and the damage that I was going through crumbling under all the things that try to invalidate my existence as a queer person of color who was femme. So many swords from many directions. It’s hard to divest and it does affect one’s mental health but I needed to get that out musically. While that was last month I see myself going towards a more lighter and sexual sound as I embrace my sexuality more. It’s been liberating expressing this through music instead of depending one of the many male contacts I have for validation. I took back my body and saw myself as a very sexual and beautiful being. Now my interaction with men is less dependent on trying to find validation through them and more so just having fun and seeing where it goes. And I’m trying to reflect that in my music. There’s still complicated things that happen there and I also write about those.
How did you choose the name Cyberbae?
The name Cyberbae came from a proposal I got from a friend to sex work online. For a while I was truly considering it as it seemed like it easy work for fast money but decided I was too lazy to do such a thing. Also it involved me ruining food and that’s something I can’t do for anyone. I love some food. While I was thinking about that proposal I was thinking about a screen name. A screen name that more than likely was already taken but I decided Cyberbaeonline because I built this persona around myself as someone who spends a lot of time networking online. Also I was always online. After I decided not to go that route I thought it’d be cool to get back out there musically (as my past experience as musician while satisfying and did build me an audience … it was just a terrible experience that in the end screwed me many ways than one) and I thought well “no one is using this name musically.” I took the online part of the name off and just left it as Cyberbae.
What are your influences and inspirations for Cyberbae?
My influences musically are all over the place. I’d say Janet Jackson’s The Velvet Rope album is my key influence in everything I do but I do love Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra collaborations. My aspirations as a musician is to make you want to listen to and buy my music. Sugar, spice and everything vice.
Do you have any Southern women influences?
The southern women that inspire are amazing people. I have to say my mother as I get a lot from her. I even look like her. If she’s a mirror then I know I’m going to age well. The second would have to be my best friend Roddrecia who I’ve known since 8th grade. We’ve been through a lot together and I don’t know if I’d be here typing these words right now. I probably would of never pursued music without her help. Another woman that definitely inspires and the best act anywhere is Deborah Motherfucking Adedokun. She has been one of the greatest support systems. Someone who has inspired me to go on when I was fed up with this scene as a whole. Helping me deal with things with racism and etc. Last but not least Eartha Kitt. I don’t really need to say anymore. Her name alone is enough.
I’d also like shout out amazing women color in this town… Errin Fatimah, Kelsey Williams, Deme Mosley, Liz Houck, Ginevra Hardin, Alice Rodriguez, Mahkia Greene, Lindsey Vidal, Janelle Lugo, Ony Ratsimbaharison and Kari Lebby for putting me on a stage and organizing this beautiful event.