After being asked to produce many dance remixes over the years, electronica artist Ionne (pronounced ee-oh-nay) dug himself out of being pigeonholed into the genre. While the New Haven artist loves dance mixes, he also found subject matter that resonated with him. The result is a powerful album, "For Those Who Remain," which dropped June 20. As a Black member of the LGBTQ+ community, Ionne explores themes of racial, social and environmental justice in the album, which contains eight tracks that mix aspects of several genres of music from deep house and R&B to synth pop, electronica and gospel. Despite what Eminem declared in 2002 that, "Nobody listens to techno," electronica and EDM, if you will, have transcended the underground music scene to become more mainstream. And in Ionne's hands, the genre is elevated to the level of "serious music" that espouses important messages. "The landscape right now is so fertile; there is a lot that is going on in the electronic music space, and I think that my approach sort of resists this idea of electronic music is just about partying to an EDM track," he said. On the surface - until closer inspection - Ionne comes across as a contradiction. Dr. Maurice L. Harris is Ionne's name, but for his music career, he goes by his stage name, which historically has several spellings and meanings. It is associated with positivity and spirituality - both of which he said are very important to him - as well as the more modern spelling of ion, being based in science. Its gender ambiguity was also a bonus. "For me I wanted to stay in a space that was very gender nonspecific, spiritually enhanced and really full of positive energy," he said. With a background in leadership studies, Harris works professionally in arts marketing and communications. He explained that his creative process in music-making is indelibly linked to his professional background; he often follows the Theory U process, which includes observing, research and reflecting. To that end, he interperses snippets of actual conversations on issues he has with fellow artists and friends into songs on this album. Early in his recording career, the artist was tapped for club dance mix projects, which he excelled at. But he was looking to show people that serious music does not just mean classical or traditional singer-songwriter music. "I needed to start to tackle subject matter that was meaningful to me. It doesn't mean that music can't also be about just having fun and just letting loose," he said. "Of course I love doing dance remixes and there are several from this album already. At the same time, I also knew that that's not the only thing that I wanted to do. I felt for me it was much more thrilling musically and spiritually to also be able to use music as a platform, especially this type of music - electronica music - as a way to expand people's perceptions around electronic music to sort of break some of the stereotypes between who can do or who is allowed to do certain styles of music." Ionne said he was able to bend genres with this album and "use this music as a platform for promoting positive social change around areas that were personally very important to me, especially in the areas of racial healing and environmental justice." "For Those Who Remain" is described as a cautionary tale about relationships, not only between people and their communities, but also with the planet we all share. One song in particular, "Rocket," depicts a fictionalized version of real life incidents that have dominated TV screens for well over a year. It also alludes to the album name by asking if people dream about leaving their neighborhood - or even getting on a rocket to another planet - what happens to those left behind? "The overarching story and theme for this song was really inspired by the repeated incidents of police brutality," he said. "This is a story of an incident of police brutality; it's fictional, but it's a fiction that has been informed by real-life events, and I use this story to try to explore a few different layers, aspects or sentiments that I think are really important to approach in the song." The song hammers home with lyrics such as: "He packed a Glock but what he needed was a bulletproof vest to guard his honor and his story and the life in his chest against the people trained to see him as the problems he caused instead of looking at the system as the source of the fraud..." For more information, visit ionne.com. Andrea Valluzzo is a freelance writer.