LGBTQ+ History Month: Celebrating our favourite Queer artists ft. an interview w/ Peri Rae
The Elephant Trees
Alternative electro-pop trio The Elephant Trees describe their sound as like Florence being backed by Enter Shikari and their sound certainly does offer this somewhat abstract blend between powerful high vocals and instrumentals that dart between pop melodies and Rock intensity. Previous releases like 'Day 42' are built solid drum grooves that allow lead vocalist Martha to voice to dance in between rhythms and layer blissful harmonies together before building to a more spaced out and energetic finale.
Their latest track 'Ones and Zer0s' is a little more intricate instrumentally. In fact, the song's music video does well to visualize the sound as the tangled web of ropes in the pictures represent the complex interplay between the guitar and drums which is really impressive in a band of just three. The sound never stagnates, always switching into a different atmosphere before you can get too comfortable. Between the contemplative beat of the verse, the dancy joyful vibes of the chorus and the angsty Electro-Rock interlude with punchy, YONAKA esc vocals the track serves up a wide range different energies fulfilling way more than you could ask from an emerging DIY trio.
Gen and the Degenerates
Chaotic Scouse noise makers Gen and the Degenerates have come crashing into 2022 with a raucous new single 'Girl God Gun'. The empowering anthem jumps straight in with Gen's resonant vocals radiating an adequate dose of venom both in content and delivery. The Grunge tension that the instrumentals build and confident vocal swagger brings fellow Merseyside Rockers The Mysterines to mind. Yet Gen and the Degenerates have really started to form their own strong identity with their latest two tracks which are taken off their upcoming debut EP 'Only Alive When In Motion' that is due on March 30th.
The first of these releases 'Wild Thing' arrives with a big expressive chorus that demonstrates the soaring power of Gen's vocals. The more biting backing shouts from the rest of the band do well to create the 'leader and pack' dynamic that their name suggests and creates a really punchy track that cements them as not only one of he most vicious but also one of the most fun new Alternative acts. 'Girl God Gun' has taken on a more sinister and angsty tone with the animalistic vocal drawl sitting on top of a perpetual instrumental thunder that builds into an infectiously intimidating Punk finale.
New York Electronic songwriter Ian Abel uses his music to act out sonic imaginations of his Queer hyper/altpop fantasies. His latest single 'Right Hand Man' is an expressive track that feels completely free, moving gracefully from one melody to the next. It begins in theatrical style with a sharp string section sound tracking cheeky physical descriptions of "that bubble but" and those "chestnut eyes".
It then dives into a denser soundscape with a popping electro beat and uplifting layered vocal melodies that combine to form the chorus that, as Ian says himself, is an ear worm. The playful, witty delivery of the vocals and urban bedroom pop has hints of Pizzagirl yet with a more joyous and optimistic output. A really fun electro sound with a chorus that will get stuck in your head in now time.
Maccelsfield four-piece Queen Cult are by far one of the most direct and lively female fronted bands out there right now. Their combinations of hard-hitting Rock instrumentals and socially conscious lyrics makes their new EP, 'Woman That I Know', pretty impossible to ignore.
The first track, 'Show and Tell' offers a melodic start to the EP. The Grunge tension in the opening guitar line is contrasted with a shuffling drum rhythm and vocals that are loose and flowing. It is these vocals that really make the track. Throughout the verse they have a controlled power to them, gliding across the instrumentals but always threatening a more ferocious delivery. The chorus injects this energy that the vocals teased. It is a super catchy Rock sing-a-long that still contains their thoughtful lyrical content as they sing about fake personality fronts. Everything about the first two thirds of the single are really slick but it proceeds to build with a pounding drum crescendo and then explode into a high-tempo outburst to provide the perfect sweaty moshpit to end the track.
This energetic style then continues into the second track 'A Song About Consent'. As you can guess by the title this track has a more in-your-face delivery. The vocals radiate an angst from the start and the instrumentals match it with crashing cymbal hits and big Rock chords. The lyrical content is so important and the power of the heavy-hitting instrumentals make it impossible not to listen up! 'Calm' is probably their most mature track in terms of songwriting. It opens quite intimately with just an atmospheric single guitar and vocal that makes you feel tangibly close to the music. Yet, this bubble is soon burst. The chorus asks "where's the storm that hides behind the calm?" and the thick Rock instrumentals seem to have the answer. It has a dense textural atmosphere underneath that then opens up into an expansive dark Rock flurry in the later stages that will leave any small venue shaking when its done.
Then the EP closes with its title track that provides the biggest vocal performance. The soaring delivery of crashes over the hard Rock instrumentals into a style similar to YONAKA. A fantastic way to cement their powerful style on an incredible debut EP!
Filled with dark, industrial undertones and layered electronic textures, GRIMMER’s sound feels like smooth bedroom pop that has been locked in isolation for years and emerged unhinged on the other side. The Australian songwriter emerged in Melbourne’s vibrant creative queer scene DJing for numerous events. Yet, his passion has always laid in creating his own music. He has been sporadically releasing music since 2016 but it was the gloomy crowd jumper ‘Happy Ending’ that we fell in love with!
With the combined ‘friendly’ appeal of the single’s artwork and the artist name GRIMMER you might be led to think that his music is harsh, aggressive and hard to take in for your average Indie rock fan. Yet the new single is extremely palatable with a surprisingly catchy, sing-a-long chorus. Although the song name is sarcastic, the sound is abrasive rather than aggressive, with an upbeat feel throughout a lot of the track. The growling industrial underbelly is ever present with swirling bassey electronics and rolling metallic drums, yet the vocals are filled with a swagger that turns the track into crowd hyping banger perfect for an underground mosh pit.
22 year-old Indie Folk solo artist Peri Rae emerged towards the end of last year with the blissful acoustic ramble of 'Fair Enough'. It instantly gathered attention for the richness of Peri's vocals and overall sentimental atmosphere of the track. She has now followed this up with the brand new single 'In Between'. The song is a celebration of queerness that follows Peri's own journey as a bisexual woman, focusing specifically on experiences of dealing with homophobia.
What made you want to write 'In Between'?
"I wrote 'In Between' as an ode to how I want to feel about myself and my sexuality. Alicia Keys said that when she wrote 'Girl On Fire', she was at one of the lowest places in her life and did not feel like the girl in the song at all, and so she wrote it to make her feel that way. That's the same with 'In Between'. I had all these overwhelming feelings of shame and internalized bi-phobia, and so I wrote this song to get those feelings out and to create the reality that I wanted for myself".
Do you think it is important to tell these kinds of stories in music so that others who endure the same difficulties know that they are not alone?
"I think it's essential to tell stories like this (especially through the medium of music) because music heals people. I've gotten through some of the darkest periods of my life with an album or a song, and I feel like that's a universal truth for everyone. All I want for anyone feeling lost, confused, or ashamed is to hopefully feel safe, loved, and celebrated when they listen to this song".
The track talks of the homophobia that you have endured - have you felt this in the music industry at all?
"It comes out in interesting ways within the music industry. I haven't felt direct homophobia per se; it's more like there's this weird pressure to present yourself in a certain way in terms of branding. If you're gay, you should look like this, if you're bi, you should look like that, etc. I feel like people are being pressured to fit into marketable boxes. However, there's been a lot of freedom for me in rejecting that narrative and saying – 'No, this is who I am, this is how I present myself, and that is valid'. I don't need or want to present myself in a specific way in order to validate my sexuality".
How do you feel your celebration of queerness has influenced you personally and musically?
"It has been a terrifying and healing journey. When I first wrote this song, my sexuality was a secret to almost everyone in my life. The first person I shared this song (& secret) with was my co-writer Jess Sharman, and even then, I was terrified the whole time! But amazingly, she made me feel so safe and accepted, which is why I think the song turned out the way it did: it became a song of celebration. I started showing friends the song, and everyone loved it. The more I shared it, the more comfortable I became in my own sexuality".
"It's funny because I showed it to my boyfriend at the time, and he reacted so badly; he didn't accept me at all, and we ended up breaking soon after. So yes, I would definitely say this song has had a huge influence in shaping my life! Yet it's been for the best, as it's allowed me to live authentically and without shame. I would say the scariest part was actually the public release itself because I knew my family would hear it. They've been wonderful and incredibly supportive, but sexuality is not something we would talk about in my family, so I was scared of how they would react. So this song has really been a massive journey of self-acceptance and healing for me".
What kind of message would you like your music to give off as a whole?
"I suppose that my main goal is connection. I'd like my music to tell stories that people can see themselves in to hopefully help heal and empower them- or if anything, just to make them not feel alone. Sometimes I get people in my DMs telling me how much my songs mean to them, and those simple messages make it all worth it".
When is the perfect moment to listen to In Between?
"'In Between' (unfortunately for your neighbors) is a song that should be screamed in your bedroom at 2am! It's a song that can be turned up to full volume on a long car journey, and it's the perfect power anthem to make you feel invincible while walking down the street. But most importantly, wherever you're listening to it, I hope it makes you feel the way it does to me".