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Artist Profiles
7 LGBTQ Artists to Know
06 24 2019
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I didn’t understand the full weight of same-sex pronouns in music until the summer of 2012. Frank Ocean had just released channel ORANGE and I thought — for a brief time — that I should change my name.

 

It was a twenty-two-minute walk to class. Hardly enough time for a full listen of an album with a ten-minute single. And yet —

 

“Running on my mind boy.” 

 

That year was the first time I told a boy I loved him. The same boy I would sit next to in the backseat on the way to soccer practice, while consciously adjusting the pronouns as I sang along to the radio so that I never accidentally sang about him.

 

These seven artists are important. They represent communities that MTV has historically fetishized, but in a streaming world, they have the potential to be someone’s Frank Ocean. 

 

Familiarize yourself with them all below, and stream our playlist of more than 50 LGBTQ artists making music that needs no qualifiers.

Dizzy Fae
GENRE: HIP-HOP, R&B

 

LOCATION: MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA

 

PRONOUNS: SHE/HER

 

LINKS: SPOTIFY, APPLE MUSIC, INSTAGRAM

 

 

A little bit of R&B and a little bit of nu-disco, Dizzy Fae is — despite her moniker — stylishly sure-footed when it comes to who she is. “I believe that queer is the blanket for it all. It’s knowing who you are and being okay with who you’re not,” she told Gaytimes last year. 

 

Dizzy’s name careened through the internet following the release of her queer confessional “Her/Indica,” just about a year after she joined Lizzo’s “Good As Hell” tour. Ever since, Dizzy has been quietly producing a breadth of tracks that shows an audacious diversity of both taste and skill, something analogous to queer machismo. Maybe it’s that she studied more classical forms like opera and jazz in her youth, but it’s clear there are more layers to Dizzy Fae than she’s shown us — or at least so far.

Holland
GENRE: K-POP, R&B, DANCE

 

LOCATION: SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA

 

PRONOUNS: HE/HIM

 

LINKS: SPOTIFY, APPLE MUSIC, INSTAGRAM

 

 

A heartthrob of the K-pop scene, Holland (Go Tae-seob 고태섭) is thriving on the fringes of a culture doused in homo-ignorance. From his debut single “Neverland” to his latest “Nar_C,” Holland leads with lyrics and visuals that display strong, unblushing examples of queer romance. His success proves that the industry is ready for change, even if the less progressive parts of South Korea still grapple with anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and discrimination. 

 

Still, he’s conscious that there are those waiting for him to slip up. “Since LGBT figures are very unpopular in the Korean entertainment industry, I am a representative,” he tells i-D. “People will subject the whole community to hate speech if I make a tiny mistake.” 

 

But despite the pressure, Holland hasn’t missed a beat yet.

L’FREAQ
GENRE: SYNTH-POP, R&B

 

LOCATION: BROOKLYN, NY / LOS ANGELES, CA

 

PRONOUNS: SHE/HER

 

LINKS: SPOTIFY, APPLE MUSIC, INSTAGRAM

 

 

L’FREAQ (Lea Cappelli) has an impressive vitae both on stage and in sync. Her recordings have been embedded in promos for The CW’s Riverdale and NBC’s The Voice, and notably, has performed for Muhammad Ali, but the life of a touring artist isn’t always so glamorous. 

 

“Sometimes it’s hard to feel like you don’t have a home, a safe space, a place to store your belongings,” she writes on Instagram, in the wake of a lengthy tour across the U.S. and Australia. “Living out of a suitcase and hustling can be exhausting. It’s easy to lose track of yourself and your body. But I’ve been feeling enriched by the presence of friends and co-creators who push me to be the best version of myself.” Those friends — her chosen family — provide L’FREAQ a sense of security and belonging, a bond that many queer people can relate to.

PUTOCHINOMARICÓN
GENRE: ELECTRONIC, LATIN, SYNTH-POP

 

LOCATION: BARCELONA, SPAIN

 

PRONOUNS: HE/HIM

 

LINKS: SPOTIFY, APPLE MUSIC, INSTAGRAM

 

 

PUTOCHINOMARICÓN is one of Barcelona’s tightest music contemporaries (but it’s probably best not to say his name out loud). A recording artist, architect, make-up artist, and journalist, Chenta Tsai Tseng is as multi-hyphenate as his identity. 

 

The Taiwanese immigrant released the indiscriminate mini-LP Corazón De Cerdo Con Ginseng Al Vapor through Elefant Records in April 2018, but he’s still fighting through the bullshit of an industry built on tradition. “There are barely any migrant artists [in Spain] because immigration policies don’t offer equal opportunities,” Chenta tells his label. But with coverage from Esquire and Noisey and some serious momentum on YouTube, PUTOCHINOMARICÓN deserves — no, demands your attention.

Sam Buck
GENRE: COUNTRY

 

LOCATION: LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA

 

PRONOUNS: HE/HIM

 

LINKS: SPOTIFY, APPLE MUSIC, INSTAGRAM

 

 

In 2016, The FADER premiered a track called “Faces” by a quote-unquote gay-bro country star named Buck. In the three years since, he’s released a well-rounded EP titled Borderline and has reclaimed his first name. Sam’s music carries a superficial conviction that resides well below the Mason-Dixon line, but concentrate on the poetry and instrumentation beneath the twang and you’ll catch stories soaked with next-century-self-awareness. 

 

And for someone who reveres Miranda Lambert as the Britney Spears of Country, Sam is pushing Country music past its most entrenched taboos. “I hope that when people hear it, they hear it’s my attempt to push Country forward in a blatantly queer way that’s completely natural to the genre,” he tells The FADER. “I’m not coming out as a major label Nashville star and then just being coy about my sexuality.”

Quay Dash
GENRE: RAP, HIP-HOP

 

LOCATION: NEW YORK, NEW YORK

 

PRONOUNS: SHE/HER

 

LINKS: SPOTIFY, APPLE MUSIC, INSTAGRAM

 

 

With confidence easily attributed to her Bronx upbringing, it feels like Quay Dash is incapable of mediocrity. A frequent collaborator with hyperkinetic princex SOPHIE, known for producing beats with crowded bass frequencies, Quay’s repertoire is a line-in-the-sand declaration of trans excellence. “I’m still fucking here,” Quay writes on Instagram, repurposing trans activist Miss Major’s iconic words in opposition of the Trump administration. 

 

Her music isn’t just retaliation against cis-heteronormativity. “Little black girl with the sugar and the spice / Everybody know I’m the shit on the mic / I could never really give a damn what you like,” Quay raps double-time in “Shades on Top Down.” Underneath the hubris, her music takes a stance on issues of race, poverty, and misogyny from within a genre that often perpetuates unhealthy stereotypes, putting Quay Dash in a position to stir some shit up and come out on top.

Perta
GENRE: ROCK, FUNK

 

LOCATION: LOS ANGELES, CA

 

PRONOUNS: HE/HIM (MATHEW)

 

LINKS: SPOTIFY, APPLE MUSIC, INSTAGRAM

 

 

With a name drawn from beyond the gender binary, Perta aren’t big on labels. Frontman Mathew Bazulka is a charismatic ex-actor who turned queer hardship into gripping and unfettered ballads after uniting with Daniel Zuker (bass), Colin Kenrick (keyboard), Justin Siegal (drums), and Chance Taylor (guitar) in LA. 

 

“I’ve always blurred the lines between masculine and feminine,” Mathew tells Paper. “It’s something I grappled with growing up — just learning how to be proud of myself and liking myself for who I was. Once I started working with these boys, I had to start being honest in my lyrics and with myself about moments between lust and love with guys I was dating and about cultivating my youth.” 

 

For now, the band has only published one track, “From Fire,” but the gutsy ballad is plenty to satiate us until Perta’s ready to give us more.

 

Playlist — Artists to Know: LGBTQ

Nate is the Founder and Creative Director of Babyface, a design and content studio building experiences for URL and IRL. He’s worked with brands including Nike, sweetgreen, Hello Mr., Away, Thinx, and the National Geographic Channel, but mostly he’s just hell-bent on improving queer representation in the creative industries.

 

 

 

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