I acknowledge often that I am a rare bird in the sense that I am a musician who also happens to be queer and who also happens to be a woman.
Most folks, when asked, can name five current artists – at most – who fall into this intersection, and that’s if you eliminate the option of naming kD Lang, who is no longer really active (soz hardcore Langers).
But the bottom line is, queer women are blasting their way into multiple genres AND public consciousness; it just can take a little while for people to put the pieces together.
So, here I am to lend a helping hand in doing just that.
On the frontlines of pop – although folks tend to forget she’s openly queer – is Lady Gaga. Well aware of the power of sex within the music industry, Gaga sought to invert public expectations almost from the get-go; marching onto the stage and wowing
audiences with her strong visuals (her death-by- chandelier performance at the 2009 VMAs), outspoken fashion choices (cue that meat dress) and enormous tunes.
In the alternative scene, we have queer, poly, cabaret punk artist Amanda Palmer who has been holding court for years – singing to ukulele and crashing piano on a generous myriad of topics, including abortion, body hair, tour sex and death.
More recently we’ve seen the enormous impact of pansexual Christine & TheQueens, blasting away the cobwebs with her androgynous style and dance moves -and currently reviving masculine tailoring in a way little unseen since Annie Lennox
emerged with the Eurythmics.
At the same time, the graceful, irreverent, intelligent rap of Princess Nokia has rippled into public consciousness; finally wrapping words around the topic of sex with women being a participating rather than just penetrative activity – as well as isolation, abuse, popular culture, gender stereotypes, and celebrating ethnicity. Pow pow pow!
Also breaking the surface, we have indie juggernauts Tash Sultana, Marika Hackman, Shura and Muna – all openly singing about queer relationships, amongst other things.
On the other hand, there is plenty of talent out there still to be discovered, and while the tide of queer female presence is gathering speed, there is still a long way to go.
Oh and by the way there’s me:
I asked three rising queer writer-producer- performers to share a little of their experiences so far of their journey into music industry land…
“Working in the music industry is exciting for me because there are always more queers around than you realise! I find it in empowering when I come across other queer people who love their lives and are successful in their field. On the other hand it can be scary because I am quite femme, so people often assume that I’m straight. Specifically with men this is sometimes met with disappointment or even hate when they find out I’m not sexually available to them.”
Kimberly Anne, @kimberlyanneiam:
“I know it sounds weird, but my hair affects the way that people listen to my music. Firstly, there are very few mixed ethnicity female musicians around, and you want to have different hair to them otherwise people will
mix you up. Secondly journalists mis-genre me. My influences are indie-pop: Damien Rice, We Are Scientists, Friendly Fires – and that’s my genre. When I tell journalists this, their response is often ‘…But you have an afro?’. They then describe me as ’Soulful R’n’B’ and strip out the indie influences I mentioned.”
Zoe Konez, @zoekonez:
“It’s challenging, there’s a lot of comparison. I don’t want to be the best female singer or producer, or better than any other female guitarist you have seen. People tell me that, thinking it’s a compliment. I don’t want to be the best
female anything. I want to be listened to as an artist who make music to be enjoyed by the listener, not because it’s better to be compared to anyone else. Music shouldn’t be a competition. Once you find your sound and your way of doing things, forsaking anyone else’s opinions, making music is the best feeling in the world.”