A myriad of queer and ally artists are performing at 2016’s Clockenflap festival, coming from all over the world to perform overlooking the Central Harbourfront from November 25th – 27th. From smaller local acts to popular international headliners, check out the queer artists featured this year!
Shura is one of the most prominent young queer artists of the new generation – mixing catchy, 80’s pop influenced electronic music with contemporary R&B production, her music reflects the anxieties related with growing up through a distinctively queer lens. First starting her career as a bedroom-pop project, Shura has stated that the lack of queer female voices in pop circles, and the overly confident, exhibitionist themes permeating today’s pop songs had inspired her to write, stating ‘Pop music doesn’t represent me. And that’s why I made my own.” Like many other younger LGBT artists, Shura refrains from politicizing her sexuality and instead strives to let it emerge organically through her music, in hopes that increased representation will lead to further normalization within society, explaining hopefully that ‘Maybe someone will watch my videos and think “I can come out.”’.
Essential Tracks: Touch, Make it Up, Nothing’s Real
Blood Orange is the experimental R&B project of British musician Devonte Hynes. Although he doesn’t identify as gay or queer, Hynes’ music is greatly influenced by New York’s exuberant 80’s gay ballroom sub-culture and the sexual and gender fluidity that it represented. Much like Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange and Blond, Hynes’ albums deal with notions of black identity, masculinity and queer issues, with many love songs in 2011 album Coastal Grooves seemingly about a male subject matter. On the more recent track ‘Augustine’, he stated that he intentionally interpreted St. Augustine’s writings through a queer lens as a form of exploration in the lyrics ‘Skin on his skin/A warmth that I can feel with him. Hynes will be at clockenflap promoting his latest album Freetown Sound, influenced by personal struggles as well as the politics and activism of the Black Lives Matter movement protesting racially-driven police brutality in the United States.
Essential tracks: Best to You, Augustine, You’re Not Good Enough
Ambient Icelandic powerhouse Sigur Ros’ lead singer and guitarist, the openly gay Jonsi, will be performing at Clockenflap with the rest of his band for the first time later this month. Jonsi, who grew up in a small village in Iceland, says that much of his leanings towards ambient music and introspective and introverted lyrics were influenced by the feelings of alienation that came from being queer in a small, conservative environment. Through the thoughts of estrangement and isolation, he began to create music as a coping mechanism, stating: ‘Looking back, I think it was really good for my music because I didn’t want to deal with it, so I focused on creating things. That’s how I handled being gay.” Through these difficult times, however, Jonsi has found success, acceptance and love: Jonsi and his longtime boyfriend, Alex Somers, frequently write and release music together, both serving as sources of inspiration for the other. Jonsi and Sigur Ros will be performing on Friday night at Clockenflap.
Essential Tracks: Oveour, Hoppipolla
Hong Kong singer-songwriter Ellen Loo, who performed alongside LGBT artists and activists Anthony Wong and Denise Ho at this year’s Pink Dot festival, will be one of Hong Kong’s most prominent artists performing at Clockenflap 2016. Loo has been a staunch and outspoken supporter of LGBT issues and rights in Hong Kong, posing for various awareness raising campaigns like 2013’s All4love alongside public appearances at LGBT events around the city. Catch her set Friday night at the Harbourflap stage!
Young London five-piece experimental pop group Pumarosa singer/guitarist Isabel Munoz-Newsome penned new single, Cecile, about sex, desire and longing. When asked about inspirations behind the song, she cited her relationships were both men and women, and her decisively fluid sexuality – “I don’t think you have to be specifically anything,” says Isabel. “It’s about that slightly mythical other that you’re desperately desiring, and can’t quite reach.
They’re a lively, exciting band to watch live, undoubtedly due to their influences, which include punk icons Iggy Pop and Patti Smith. Catch them Saturday night at the KEF stage!
Essential Tracks: Priestess, Cecile
Words by Lee Phillips