By Mikkel Hyldebrandt

On March 22, queer artist and Atlanta resident, Tajonyx, will release his first album, Phantom Fire. DAVID caught up with the independent recording artist and performer to talk collaborations, track listings, and much more.

Last time we spoke, you were releasing your first single – now you are ready to release your first album. How has that journey been?

It has been a roller coaster, to say the least. Since then, I’ve moved from an apartment to a house; I have a live-in boyfriend. I’m super “in love” now. Which for me to say is crazy since before meeting my now boyfriend, I always felt extremely unlucky in love. I’ve gone from having just me as the driving force behind getting my music out to fans to having a team helping me do so. I’ve worked with and met artists I have admired my entire life. I’m very grateful and blessed to be in this position. 

What inspired you to do this album? 

I wanted to make the album I needed as a kid growing up in the late 90s and early 2000s. I loved a lot of pop acts like Britney Spears, *NSYNC, and Christina Aguilera, and a lot of R&B acts like Aaliyah, Brandy, and Usher, but I didn’t really see a lot of people who looked like me be successful in those spaces. And by me, I don’t mean just black. I mean black and queer. I always felt like I had to choose between white pop stars and black R&B stars; straight female artists or straight male artists. There was no intersection for me growing up. This album is about creating that for myself in hopes that it resonates with others. It’s ultimately a love letter to every queer boy who didn’t have anyone to look up to growing up. 

– and tell us about the name Phantom Fire

I came up with the name “Phantom Fire” because I had just finished watching an amazing limited series called “Little Fires Everywhere.” I was also in the middle of recording all the songs that would become this project. It was 2020. We had Covid. We had mental illness. We had Isolation.

On top of that, I was dealing with a breakup with someone I thought was the love of my life at the time and insurmountable bouts of anxiety due to the pandemic. And to top it all off, George Floyd happened. The riots in the streets happened. I harkened all these circumstances to little invisible fires that I couldn’t see and that I couldn’t put out, yet they were just as deadly. Racism, anxiety, heartbreak, anger – these were my phantom fires. 

As a queer artist, do you feel that are still forces holding you back when expressing yourself as a queer individual? 

I do. Unfortunately, there is a lot of judgment from society at large about how I choose to show up in the world. For example, I am singing the national anthem at a little league opening ceremony event this weekend. This entire week I have been going back and forth on how to dress to avoid offending the crowd. Should I wear this? Should I wear that? Will people laugh at me? Should I bring my boyfriend? People need to realize that it takes a lot of bravery to sit in your truth no matter who doesn’t like it. By the way, I’m choosing to wear what I want. 

You have some very talented collaborators on this album. Tell us about them and how you started working with them.

I emailed Tiffany Evans about a feature, and she obliged. It was very simple and organic. She is this small, tiny beauty with a gorgeous voice and an even more gorgeous spirit. There were many people I approached for features on this album. A lot of the people I approached are famous queer recording artists and power players in the industry. None of them answered me back or acknowledged my existence. Tiffany did. I’ll always be grateful for that. She gave me an opportunity to showcase my talent by aligning her brand with mine — another shining example of how black women are always supporting us. Dave Eggar is an amazing Grammy-nominated cellist that has worked with Beyonce, Brandy, Coldplay, Evanescence, Bebe Rexha, and now “yours truly.” My co-producer introduced us, and Dave gave me a call to let me know how much he loved my song! He then started adding an entire string section to it. It was a “pinch me” moment for sure! 

What are you doing to celebrate the launch of your first album?

I will be having a delayed album release party sometime in April or May. Gotta fit it in where I can cause everything is so busy right now, which is a good thing!

What’s next for Tajonyx?

Next is the rest of the album rollout. We haven’t even scratched the surface yet. 2023 is going to be a busy year! 

Where can we listen to your album?

Phantom Fire is available for streaming on all platforms that distribute music. 

Anything you’d like to add?

Make sure you give me a follow on Instagram and Tiktok @tajonyx. Inbox me, and let me know what you think of the album!