June is international Pride month. It’s also the month that so many queer music artists release music because naturally, it’s one of the few times per year that they may get major notice for their work. While mainstream artists flood the airwaves, LGBTQ music artists are often overlooked, ignored or relegated to, well the month of June. So of course while the world is watching this month it’s important to shine an even brighter light on the artists of our community.
And that’s what we’re doing. This is part one of a three-part spotlight on some of the incredible independent artists making game changing music within the international queer music community. 30 days in June, 30 artists spotlighted over three installments.
Portland, Oregon artist Rascal Miles isn’t new to music, but is definitely making their mark. With a list of releases over the last few years, it’s current single, the auto-biographically transmasculine gender affirmation surgery detailed ‘Tailor-Made’, that is putting Rascal on the map. The vulnerable and direct imagery within the song married with the alt-folk style of the singer/songwriter generates moments of satire amidst the realism of confidence and strength. The experience brought to life through music makes ‘Tailor-Made’ and Rascal Miles the story of a generation.
Blxck Cxsper and Trans Trenderz
Trans Trenderez is a black trans owned organization and its founder is Hip Hop and R&B recording artist Blxck Cxsper. The aim is not to just be a record label, but rather a movement to elevate trans artists to achieve mainstream success all the while supporting and empowering them. As an artist Blxck Cxsper releases music that stands shoulder to shoulder with the mainstream. And as an organization, all music released is produced entirely by trans people. And with several ongoing initiatives designed to strengthen the transgender musical community, Blxck Cxsper and Trans Trenderz have signaled to the music world that change is on the way.
Butterfly Feels & NOR KIN4LIFE
This is a team to aspire to. Partners in music and life, they know how to spin and produce gold. The smooth and silky tones of Butterfly’s vocals are beyond seductive, they’re gorgeously hypnotic. And NOR KIN4LIFE is a masterclass in rap, musicality and production wizard. Separately they can create their own individual magic, but when they combine, which is often, it’s an epic display of synchronicity that is next level.
LA artist Torrey Mercer has been on a journey both musically and personally. Along the way she has never deterred from looking herself and the world around her in the face and tackling the hard topics. Now in her latest work, Torrey is getting more personal than ever. A champion of the marginalized and a student of life, she takes hopes, dreams, fears, joys, and even the odd sarcastic retort, and packs it into who she is and aspires to be as an artist. Her most recent single ‘Shame’ tackles our privilege, our behavior, just how far we haven’t come and the work that still needs to be done. Music with a conscience from an artist with vision!
Travie Austin, TeawhYB & Jxckson
Fast, clever, fun and fire. All words to describe ‘Cut Me A Check’ from Travie Austin, TeawhYB and Jxckson. But one word is missing: collaborative! Yes, in a world where mainstream artists are regurgitating hits for their up and coming peers via recut versions of the same song, a true artist collaboration is worth its weight in gold. And gold is what we have right here. The music industry is fuelled by competition. The more that artists try to “up” one another to be or stay on top, the more we keep getting more of the same. But these three men, incredible artists in their own right, came together (online no less) and have produced a track that’s more fun and exciting than most of what the mainstream is feeding us. So treat your ears and infuse your Pride playlist today with a little Travie, TeawhYB and Jxckson magic.
Canadian R&B sensation IAMREBELWILL has been building steam for some time, but now is truly his moment. With new music, a fresh vibe, positive energy and stunning vocal presence, IAMREBELWILL is here for much longer than a moment and will soon be a name on international music lists. New track ‘Addicted’ is just a taste of what this powerhouse has ready for the world.
Dimitri Miller has come out of nowhere to drop an alt-pop-rock track that really lights a fire. It gets in and out and leaves you with a body bop that will have you vibrating long after the song ends. From the first riff of electric guitar we’re on a trip that you know will be fun. And Dimitri’s vocals are fire AF! There’s a lion inside and he’s ready to roar.
Elina Filice is doing things her way. And that way is a very, very good way. using layered styles of Hip-Hop, indie rock, spoken word, jazz pop and more, she’s an artist unphased by the dictates of the mainstream mob mentality. Her take on music echos earlier artists like fellow Canadian Ivana Santilli and American trio Digable Planets. But her style is uniquely her own. And to quote the Digable Planets smash hit, Elina is definitely “Cool Like Dat”.
If you think “isn’t he that guy?” you’d be correct in a number of ways. He is indeed the artist who was runner up on the very first season of Canadian Idol. He is also the artist who recently released Bleed My Truth, a gloriously poignant and mesmerizing album of soul and R&B beauty, and his first album in over 10 years. Beals has re-emerged better, stronger and whole and is a voice to be reckoned with. Title track Bleed My Truth is a triumphant statement from one of Canada’s best artists. The wait was long but the return is so worth it.
Cheeky, fun, talented and fiery, Australia’s TIN has been turning ears and heads this past year with unique and infectious original music, and undeniably lush covers. His take on the Spice Girls classic Viva Forever is both a sonic revelation and a gorgeous visual accomplishment. Now with new release ‘Firm’, TIN is giving us a Pride moment to remember. And from conversations with the artist, I can confidently say we ain’t heard or seen nothin’ yet!