Get Better Records

Queen of Swords "Year 8" Cassette

This item is for pre-order and expected to ship by June 5th. Orders including these items will be held to ship together once all items are in stock. 

Toronto’s Queen Of Swords, the magnetic mercurial healing-rock project created by Aerin Fogel, Founder/Artistic Director for Venus Fest and a spiritual counsellor, will release her sophomore album,Year 8, June 9 2023 on American indie Get Better Records.  

The title is an astrology reference to a technique calledprofections, in which every year of our life activates a different area of the chart. Aerin wrote the album in an 8th House year, “signifying deep change, intergenerational themes, and big life thresholds,” she says.

The raucous first single, “A Shame,” with its embodiment of softness and harshness, explores the relatable human emotion of shame normally kept hidden. The beauteous ballad “Ways We Heal” is about the amicable end of a relationship when two people aren’t growing together any longer; and the gentle “Waiting To Love” is about unravelling our patterns so that we can move into a more loving state and comfort.

Aerin’s ability to read and advise others in her “day job” as a healing arts practitioner helps her communicate in her lyrics, which she always likes to keep hopeful.

“I think about songs as a lot like mantras,” Aerin explains. “If you write a song and then you play it live for years, you’re repeating those words over and over to yourself and others. So I consider this when songwriting. Is this something I want to be repeating? I try to use a healing framework in the way that I write as something that I want to be repeated and listened to over and over again.”

Co-produced by Carmen Elle (DIANA) and engineered by Steve Chahley (Neko Case, Nelly Furtado, Wu-Tang Clan),Year 8 was recorded in the basement of his home in Bolton, Ontario, where Kritty Uranowski came in for one day to lay down the synth and keyboard tracks.

“All of us working on the album ended up having these big family themes,” Aerin reflects, without going into the others’ personal details, but explains her own, the investigation into the little-known story of her grandparents during the Holocaust. 

“My grandparents are no longer alive to tell their stories, so out of my own curiosity, I found their immigration documents and followed the timeline. I wrote the album with that in mind,” she says, “and while we were recording this album, I ended up finding this interview tape for the [USC] Shoah Foundation, which interviewed a lot of Holocaust survivors in the 90s, including my grandfather.”

While she wasn’t able to discover if her grandparents had musical ability, her parents did, and Aerin followed in their footsteps as a child. She spent middle school studying dance and jazz saxophone at the prestigious Claude Watson School for the Arts. As she progressed grade-to-grade, she became more interested in music, and planned to attend the University of Toronto for jazz. But in high school, her focus began to shift: she started attending DIY shows and getting curious about the fringe music scene. “It helped me discover punk and experimental music,” she says.

Aerin did enroll at U of T, but not for music. “I took a left turn,” she says. She studied philosophy and creative writing, and outside of class started a solo project, for which she would sing and play synth at art gallery shows, and the like.  Shortly after, she started playing in an 80s-tinged post-punk duo The Bitters with Ben Cook of hardcore band Fucked Up. The pair co-wrote all the songs and shared lead vocals; Aerin also played drums. Between 2009 and 2012, they released one album and two EPs for labels like Captured Tracks, Sacred Bones, and Mexican Summer.

Suffice to say, after some “difficult experiences in the music industry,” Aerin retreated and began what she calls “the other half of my life,” a thriving private practice for astrology, core pattern readings, and tarot card reading that has been her full-time work for the last decade. But time, healing, and maturity eventually brought her back to her childhood passion. In 2017, she simultaneously started Queen Of Swords, and Venus Fest, a Toronto music festival for women and gender non-conforming artists. “My intention was to help shift some of the issues in the industry,” Aerin explains.

The timing was serendipitous. #MeToo started weeks after the inaugural Venus Fest, which supported their voice as an organization and led to its rapid expansion and respect. For Queen Of Swords, described as a mix of “dark dream pop and old school rock ‘n’ roll,” Aerin wrote and played almost everything on the self-titled album, which was co-produced with Bobb Bruno (Best Coast). Live, she would play as a duo with Kritty. “It was challenging to re-enter the industry after not playing for several years, but I was proud to put something forward again,” she says.

Because of her private practice, and the growing success and importance of Venus Fest, both took up the majority of Aerin’s energy and focus for the past five years, but in 2022 she finally made some space again for Queen Of Swords. “Most of the songs and the themes were written when I was doing a lot of work and study around intergenerational themes and healing, which is something I work with in my private practice quite a bit. So the record has those themes. My hope is that my music is a support and healing for others, as much as myself,” she says.

Her work is not always trauma-based, of course. She has clients who come to see her to pick a wedding date or planned C-section or other life celebration. “It’s calledelections in astrology,” she says. Does Aerin use her own skills to pick the release dates for her album and singles? “Absolutely!”

Bio written by Karen Bliss


1. A Shame

2. With No Light 

3. Ways We Heal

4. Something Beyond 

5. Waiting to Love

6. Afterglow 

7. All I Leave Unspoken

8. Refuse