Transpondence 5: Queer-inclusive Music
Hello! It’s me again! In this week’s Transpondence, I’d like to talk about some musicians you can check out while you’re stuck at home! If you want, of course.
[Image description: A photograph of Rina Sawayama, who is standing in an outdoor area with trees and bushes behind her. She has light skin, a thin physique, dyed orange hair, and red lipstick on, and she's grinning at the camera with her eyes crinkling. She has gold hoop earrings on, and a black and white plaid blouse.]
Rina Sawayama is so cool! The genre of her music is generally pop, but there’s a strong presence of other influences in her music as well, including rock and R&B. Her music frequently touches on themes of displacement, confidence, and womanhood, with a lot of lyrics underscoring her experiences as a Japanese-British woman. Oh yeah, and she’s also pansexual! I love the honesty and empowerment in her music. Give her a chance, she’s incredible.
“Dynasty” is one of her newest and one of my favorites. It’s about inherited pain and breaking the vicious cycle in your family.
Also, “Flicker” is a great pride anthem. Rina’s talked about how she wrote the song partially with trans people in mind, thinking about the frustration we experience when we’re misgendered.
[Image description: A photograph from a concert, with King Princess up on stage holding a microphone. Warm orange lights shine down on her from above, with additional bluish lights shining at an angle behind her. She has light skin, short, brown, wavy hair, and a thin physique. Her mouth is open in a smile. She has maroon pants and a striped belt on, and a white tank top. Behind her, a guitarist is playing and various musical equipment can be seen arranged on the floor.]
Mikaela Straus, AKA King Princess, is an indie pop artist and gay icon. Her music is proud, unashamed, and effortlessly cool (seemingly just like her). I especially recommend her music if you’re a lesbian or sapphic person!
“1950” is mind-blowingly good and I can’t stop thinking about it. This song, people. THIS song! It’s so effing good. It scratches all my lesbian itches.
“Ain’t Together” is a song she describes as “cute and sad” and “perfect for” a “lesbian seance.” It’s about two people who are in love but for whatever reason, one of them hasn’t been able to commit to the relationship. Also, in this music video she’s wearing a football uniform with big shoulder pads and just, wow, holy shit, I’m gay.
[Image description: A photo of Cavetown among a large gathering of green leaves that appear to be growing all over a wire fence. He is a skinny light skinned young man with short auburn hair and glasses that have a black frame, and he is wearing a white shirt with a square in the middle of the torso that depicts a tabby cat sitting with a plastic cup perched on it's back. He has his right hand over one of his eyes, as if he were in the middle of wiping something out of it, and his other eye is closed.]
Cavetown, real name Robbie Skinner, is a singer-songwriter who makes really gentle, introspective music. He’s somewhere on the aro-ace spectrum, too! He’s a really sensitive and creative dude and his music has a lot of themes that I think trans people can relate to, so I highly recommend him!
“Hug All Ur Friends” is a sweet, positive song about cherishing your friends.
“Boys will be bugs” is a really fun and relatable song about being a teenager, but it’s also about being a teenage boy specifically and clashing with the expectations of your gender.
Left at London
[Image description: A photo of Left at London standing beside a white picket fence outside of a cute pink house, with her arm nonchalantly draped over the nearest fence pole. She has light skin, red lipstick, a thin physique, and dark brown hair in a short bob cut dyed red at the tips. She sports a white long-sleeve shirt under a blue sleeveless jean jacket covered in sewn on patches with various imagery on them, including a patch that says "She/her/hers" on it.]
Nat Puff, AKA Left at London, is an indie pop artist, as well as a lesbian trans woman, like me! She’s known for writing songs that explore mental health, relationships, and being queer in the modern world. She’s also known for her irreverent humor, which you’ll soon be able to experience for yourself.
This song is “Santa’s Homophobic,” which makes me laugh my ass off. You won’t be disappointed.
On a more serious note, “Revolution Lover” is the trans pride anthem of the century! As soon as I heard it, I was like “I’m ride or die for this woman.” Nat Puff is the hero the trans community deserves, and this song will make you believe it.
[Image description: A photo of six members of the band Brockhampton standing side-by-side in front of a light gray background. The three band members on the left all have dark skin, while the three band members on the right all have light skin. Each member is wearing a black button-up T-shirt with a white undershirt. They all have short black or dark brown hair, save for the member farthest to the right, whose hair is dyed yellow. The member farthest to the left is distinguished by a gold chain around his neck.]
A hip-hop boy band with gay members? Hell yeah, sign me up! Brockhampton is awesome and you should definitely give them a try. Their music is dripping with emotional realness. I will say, though, the language in some of their songs may strike you as a bit vulgar or intense.
Not this one, though. This one is completely clean. Some of you might have already heard it (I’m pretty sure I’ve heard M play it at a meeting before), but for those who haven’t, you’re in for something special. It’s a gay summer love song, and it’s one of their sleepier-sounding songs.
“GINGER” is a bittersweet song about understanding and confronting our inner emotional struggles.
Trigger warning: There is one instance in this song where one of the black band members uses the n-word. Since he’s black, he has a right to reclaim it. But I know that word can nonetheless be very upsetting, so I wanted to provide a disclaimer.
The Scary Jokes
[Image description: An album cover from the Scary Jokes titled "Burn Pygmalion!!! a BETTER guide to romance" in a white font against a black background. Below the title, there is artwork depicting two long-haired characters sitting in orange flames. One is green and possesses one eye while the other is red and possesses two. The green character is clinging onto the red one, and looks fully fixated on them. Meanwhile, the red character is starring off into space droopy-eyed, with their arms and legs limp, laying on the flaming ground. Above them, as if sprouting out from the two characters' heads, a cluster of multicolored rainbow hearts floats.]
The Scary Jokes is a nonbinary musician who uses they/them pronouns, and they’re one of my favorite artists right now! Their music has this eccentric, idiosyncratic sound to it that I find really appealing and refreshing. They also write some of the rawest lyrics I can think of. I hope you like them as much as I do!
“Community Gardens” is a cautionary reflection on the importance of choosing communion with others over self-absorption.
“Starstruck” is a pained tribute to the girl the speaker’s in love with, with hints at uncertainties in their relationship, or perhaps uncertainties within the speaker’s own sense of worth.
[A photograph from a concert, with Janelle Monáe up on stage holding a microphone. She's clad in some sort of glossy white and red trench coat, and has pants with a black and white tartan pattern. These pants are mostly covered, because on her legs she has thigh high red boots with one white stripe running down the front of either one. On her head she has a black kepi cap with a thick red band above the visor. Behind her, white stairs lead up to a higher platform with the microphone stand at the top, and stage lights hang unlit from the ceiling. Instead, light seems to be coming from a series of small spotlights coming out of the floor. Off to the right, a screen shows the same image of Janelle on a larger scale and from a different angle.]
Janelle Monáe is a singer and rapper with an impeccable sense of style and a silky-smooth voice that’ll make you fall in love with her music. The genres she occupies are funk, R&B and psychedelic soul.
“Say You’ll Go” is a beautiful meditation on love. When I first listened to it, I was moved to tears.
“I Like That” is a super confident song about owning your individuality. It may also be inspired by Janelle’s bisexuality/pansexuality.
And there you have it. Seven artists and fourteen songs for you to sample. I hope that you’ll dig a few of them enough to listen to the rest of their albums, ‘cause I only scratched the surface here.
And until next time, have a gay life!