Seven queer artists to listen to right now
From Janelle Monáe to B 🎶
We've been graced with some iconic lesbian and bi women in the music industry over the years - from KD Lang, Indigo Girls and Tegan and Sara, to The xx, Christine and the Queens, St Vincent and K Stew’s ex-lover, Soko.
But hey, there can never be too many queer female musicians. In fact, the more music that reflects aspects of sex, dating and love that isn’t focused on the desires of heterosexual men - the better. (Ed Sheeran, you can leave now).
Now, let's get that Spotify playlist queer'd up a little...
By now, you’ve probably all heard of her but we can’t discuss exciting queer women in music without recognising that Monae is rapidly ascending to the heights of a queer icon after the release of her vibrant - and queer AF - music video, Make Me Feel. This “emotional, sexual bender” is titillating the queer community with references to drag culture, glitter and a line up of rainbow stocking-wearing women.
Monae plays with identity throughout the video, each outfit change bringing with it a new character allowing her to constantly reinvent herself and reject people’s attempts to categorise her. Also: her suits. They even rival newly crowned "lesbian icon" Harry Styles. (Plus, she's allllll about that bisexual lighting...)
Former drummer for a school girl band fronted by Cara Delevingne, Marika Hackman’s second album, I’m Not Your Man could rival St Vincent for one of the best les/bi albums released in the last year. Complete with graphics of a cucumber being sliced and an overturned phallic cactus, Hackman’s cover art sets the tone for an album that totally undermines masculinity and the oppression of the male gaze.
Track My Lover Cindy perfectly encapsulates what is so great about Hackman’s album and why lesbians everywhere are loving it. Any album that has a track which perfectly blends guitars and poppy vocals, swaggering but also super feminine tones whilst also referencing Dawn Denbo from the L word is bound to resonate with queer women. Plus, like Monae she also has some sick suits.
Princess Nokia’s been around for a while but she remains as relevant as ever. An Afro-Puerto Rican musician from New York, a radically independent rapper, intersectional queer feminist, and best known for legendary single Tomboy, Princess Nokia continues to challenge constructions of gender and femininity, while shining a light on colonial injustice.
Muna’s 2017 album About U: One Year On has brought us the gay anthem, I Know A Place. As a queer-identifying band their music is political without being preachy. Band member, Katie Gavin describes I Know a Place as a dedication to the “rich LGBTQ history of turning bars and ballrooms into safe havens.”
Importantly, the political impulse underlying their music is being recognised in the #MarchForOurLives campaign, with numbers of young people carrying placards with Muna’s now famous epithet, “Lay Down Your Weapons.” The album is full of lush pop songs that explore the nuances of being young and queer whilst making sure you get up and dance. Did we mention they also recently went on tour with Harry Styles?
The Big Moon
Love In The Fourth Dimension is loud, fun, catchy and oozing in nostalgia for noughties guitar heavy indie rock. The Big Moon are also Marika Hackman’s best mates and the girl gang you always dreamed of. It’s unclear how many - if any - of the girls are gay, but the music videos are definitely queer. Check out their YouTube channel if you need convincing. Track Sucker recently won best video and features drag, a wild western romance, guns and dramatic entrances a-plenty!
Self Esteem, aka Slow Club’s Rebecca Taylor, is starting out on a solo career which fully showcases her humour and finally makes her visible as queer. After ten years of performing sweetly with Charles Weston, Taylor has been reincarnated and is being recognised as an emerging voice within the les/bi scene, and a creator of electronic pop that is as down to earth as she is.
In With Your Wife, we see Rebecca Taylor challenging the male dominated music industry and making an important point about female sexuality. (When I saw her live she also bore the moniker on her T shirt "Squirt isn’t pee"). Follow her on Insta for self deprecating hilarity, personal secrets and Insta stories made of pure comedy gold.
The Japanese House
When The Japanese House, aka Amber Bain, first started releasing music the pronouns she used in her lyrics and her androgynous voice had everyone's chins-a-wagging. Some people were convinced the singer of Japanese House must be a guy, others argued differently, either way Bain has maintained a mysterious presence in the music industry - which has only added to her appeal.
This mystery is fully dispelled however when you begin following her instagram. (Which is predominantly an ode to dogs and badly angled selfies...) To get back to the point, her music is great. Best described as chilled out, dreamy pop with a hint of electronica (e.g. very edgy). She’s also going out with Marika Hackman. Now that's a power couple if ever there was one.
Now, go forth and listen 🎶
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