It’s LGBTQ+ History Month, and in celebration our writers have put together some of their favourite LGBTQ+ artists…
Three-piece dark pop powerhouse MUNA were thrown into the spotlight back in 2017, the year they released their debut album About U and the year they supported Harry Styles on tour. MUNA are a self-proclaimed protest band, and much of their music stems from and centres around their identities as members of the LGBTQ+ community. For me, their most notable piece of LGBTQ+ activism is the song ‘I Know A Place’. Written about LGBTQ+ safe spaces, its meaning significantly changed after the Pulse nightclub shooting in 2016 into a song about hopes for protection, even if it’s in their dreams, MUNA made an extremely poignant banger out of a very dark time for their community.
A true pioneer of electronic dance music, Patrick Cowley’s influence in the scene and beyond remains unparalleled. From his soft and seedy soundtracks to gay pornographic films to his funkier, Italo-disco-flecked material more suited for the dance floor, Cowley created hits on hits. The San Francisco label Dark Entries have worked to share his legacy by reissuing his homoerotic film scores, while his work can also be heard all over mainstream club culture, most notably his Hi-NRG mix of Donna Summer’s classic ‘I Feel Love’. Expect robotic and searing synths, cowbells and some modest sleaze.
House producer whose trademark beats are infused with overwhelming surges of emotion. Maya Bouldry-Morrison, better known as Octa Octa, has been on the scene since 2011, coming out as transgender in the midst of her rise to success in 2016. Her introspective, understated album Between Two Selves (2013) voiced her self-uncertainty for the first time, acting as a transition itself between her original, more anonymous works and the vibrant, distinctive brand of house she now produces. Her latest album Resonant Body (2019) breathes life and love through a diverse array of incredible tracks, from the rave-reminiscent ‘Imminent Spirit Arrival’ to the scattered, sample-saturated beats of ‘Can You See Me?’. For first-time listeners, this album is the place to start.
Lynks Afrikka: producer, queer performance artist and dance extraordinaire. Now a mainstay on the South London and Bristol underground scenes, heralded recently by Elton John, and a Guardian Music ‘One To Watch’ in 2020, Afrikka’s music is a cheeky mishmash of bubblegum, experimental europop and industrial horror, with lyrics lending a millennial absurdity to current affairs and heteronormativity. Their shows are sardonic and uncanny, seemingly unwavering in their ability to bring hot, straight boys and girls to their feet (check out the song ‘Str8 Acting’ for reference). Afrikka’s most recent track, ‘How To Make a Béchamel Sauce in 10 Steps’ (out on Slow Dance’s most recent V/A compilation), is a recipe for fun and rapture, against an era of unsauced humorlessness in dance music. They‘re playing everywhere from Birmingham, London and Sheffield this year, so don’t sleep.
Jude Iago James
Kevin Abstract has asserted himself as a fresh LGBT+ icon by penetrating the typically heteronormative and often homophobic territory of hip hop and rap. His honest, emboldened and sometimes hysterical lyrics about his experiences as a black gay man are energising to hear, accompanied by his unique sound that hops from soft and poignant lo-fi guitar ballads to aggressive, heartfelt solo rapping. His work in both his individual albums and BROCKHAMPTON dare to grandstand a emotional vulnerability that an entire generation of gay people can take comfort in and relate to.
Amongst other things, Janelle Monáe handles sex and gender in their music like no one else, making for such a refreshing experience; from the raw sexuality of ‘Screwed’ to the tender exploration of femininity in ‘Pynk’ (the video with those trousers). Their music is inspired and, above all else, feels truly meaningful; without sacrificing any style for overtly brash politics. Take ‘Django Jane’; where Monáe beautifully discusses their own life and lays out the political landscape in one fell swoop. I can only hope that Dirty Computer – their first to really garner massive attention – will be the start of a long run of excellent and seminal works.
Seven albums deep and criminally underrated, Ezra Furman’s inimitable voice has only recently found success with soundtracking the majority of Netflix’s Sex Education. Furman’s genre-bending finesse weaves between such a range of styles; from the feel-good poppiness of ‘Love you so bad’ to the gut-wrenching croon of ‘Are you gonna break my heart?’ An Ezra Furman playlist will have you dancing one moment and utterly sobbing the next. 2012’s The Year of No Returning is well worth a listen, but take tissues.