PLAYLIST: Transgender Awareness Week 2020

At Get In Her Ears, we stand every day with our transgender and gender non-conforming siblings. We support trans artists because they create some of our favourite music and because trans rights are human rights and until trans lives matter, no lives matter.

Transgender Awareness Week kicks off today (13th Nov) until the 19th November, ending with Transgender Day of Remembrance on the 20th November, so we’re highlighting some of the incredible transgender artists who regularly land on our turntables and blast out of our speakers. Listen to our playlist at the end of this post and keep an eye on our Twitter, Facebook & Instagram accounts this week, as we’ll be posting about some of our favourite transgender artists over the next 7 days.

If you need support during Transgender Awareness Week, or at anytime in the future, you can always reach out to Switchboard LGBT+ via their website or by calling 0330 330 0630.

 

Mykki Blanco (feat. Princess Nokia) – ‘Wish You Would’
This is a song from an artist who I feel needs no introduction, a queer transgender pioneer who is doing amazing things for LGBTQ+ rights, as well as being open about their positive HIV status. Mykki Blanco is an incredible artist and I love their music. (Tash Walker)

Arca – ‘KLK’
Arca is a trailblazing trans artist who has been pushing boundaries in the electronica scene for years now. I love her music, especially right now where I cannot quite scratch that live gig rave itch. Turn this up loud, close your eyes and dance dance dance, you’ll feel free. (TW)

Mavi Phoenix – ‘Boys Toys’
Mavi Phoenix is someone that we interviewed a couple of years back now, but who spoke so eloquently about equality and the importance of queer music in the world. Phoenix has found a home in their new sound and also in the pronoun “he”. This track is taken from their debut album of the same name, which was released earlier this year. This is all about Phoenix being reborn, which is what happens in the accompanying music video to this track. ‘Boys Toys’ is as important as an exploration for Phoenix’s gender identity as it is for his artistic work. And on top of all that, it’s an absolute tune. Enjoy. (TW)

Grawl!x – ‘Epicene’
Having headlined the last gig we held at The Finsbury before the world changed forever, Grawl!x creates euphoric cinematic soundscapes filled with twinkling electronic hooks and spellbinding harmonies. Characterised by Maria’s distinctive impassioned vocals and a poignant stirring emotion, each offering from the Derby-based artist is utterly captivating. (Mari Lane)

Tokky Horror – ‘Simulate Me’
Dance-punk trio Tokky Horror are the perfect soundtrack for a lockdown 2.0 bedroom rave. ‘Stimulate Me’ is just one of the many TUNES this band have and I’m excited to hear more from them in 2021. (Kate Crudgington)

LOTIC – ‘Burn A Print’
Berlin-based artist & producer LOTIC’s mission is to “live life to the fullest by not giving a fuck about what anybody thinks”, something she clearly and defiantly communicates on this track. With a name that means to “to inhabit rapidly moving water”, Lotic’s chaotic yet fluid soundscapes truly embody her passionate, fighting spirit. (KC)

PET Wife – ‘B.L.O.O.D.O.R.A.N.G.E.’
I Love what I’ve heard from PET wife so far! I came across them only a couple of weeks ago. PET wife, are a trans/nonbinary couple and art-pop duo from Bushwick, Brooklyn. This single is accompanied by a music video that they describe as an homage to the vampire lesbian exploitation films of the 1970s, with an all-trans/gender non-conforming crew and queer cast. (TW)

Gordian Stimm – ‘Miscellaneous Body Parts’
There’s an enjoyable violence underscoring Gordian Stimm’s vision; a gleeful, sometimes painful dissecting of the self and the social cues that either help to construct or dismantle it. Their debut album Your Body In On Itself (released by Amateur Pop Incorporated) is a bold, surreal listen from a bold, surreal artist and one I highly recommend. (KC)

Anohni – ‘Why Did You Separate Me From The Earth?’
Anohni is a necessary and powerful voice that we need now more than ever. On identifying as transgender, Anohni once said in an interview with The Guardian: “I was never going to become a beautiful, passable woman, and I was never going to be a man… It’s a quandary. But the trans condition is a beautiful mystery; it’s one of nature’s best ideas. What an incredible impulse that compels a five-year-old child to tell its parents it isn’t what they think it is. Given just a tiny bit of oxygen, those children can flourish and be such a gift. They give other people licence to explore themselves more deeply, allowing the colours in their own psyche to flourish.” (ML)

Kermes – ‘Yr Beast’
Self proclaimed “anxious rock for the gay agenda”, Leicester band Kermes address issues such as gender dysphoria, sexism and dysfunctional relationships, with their infectious emotion-strewn punk-pop oozing a raw, angst-driven energy and scuzzy shimmering power. Kermes feature on fantastic new compilation compiled by their label Amateur Pop Incorporated, including other favourites Gordian Stimm and Boarder. All We Want Is Everything is available now on bandcamp. (ML)

Bitch Hunt – ‘Spaceman’
London based all queer/non-binary band Bitch Hunt formed at First Timers Fest, and create catchy, scuzzy punk-pop. With a subtle tongue-in-cheek wit and the gritty deadpan vocals of front person Sian, ‘Spaceman’ is a spot-on reflection on the sickening arrogance of all those cis male ‘splainers and ‘spreaders we so often have to endure in our day to day lives. Check out the gorgeous split EP from Bitch Hunt and other faves adults, available on bandcamp now. (ML)

The Crystal Furs – ‘Too Kind To Be Cruel’
Oregon-based The Crystal Furs create sunny, queer indie-pop that’s set to uplift on each listen. As shimmering guitar and organ melodies flow alongside honey-sweet vocal harmonies, it’s just perfectly catchy, twinkling jangle-pop at its finest. Beautiful and True, the latest album from The Crystal Furs, is out now, with many tracks addressing queer rights and transgender identity. (ML)

T-Bitch – ‘Tranarchy’
Southend-based glam punks T-Bitch give just the right amount of fucks on ‘Tranarchy’, but most importantly – they’re here to be heard and have fun. (KC)

Claire Foxx & The Antisocial Justice Worriers – ‘(I Don’t Want Your) Germs’
Scottish punk singer & songwriter Claire Foxx released this track in September and it’s a riotous, tongue-in-cheek take-down of all things Covid-19 (with some fab sax solos in there too.) (KC)

 

Husk – ‘Below The Neck’
“I would never change being trans. I would never change being a trans musician. The industry should support us. Book us. Play us. Listen to us. We have so much to offer.” A poignant sentiment from Trans, non-binary artist Husk, who combines ’80s synth-pop nostalgia with fresh leftfield pop to create their signature sound. (ML)

SOPHIE – ‘Immaterial’
This track is taken from SOPHIE’s debut album and I love it. A pioneer of experimental music, often the producer behind so many other amazing tracks, remixes and artists. Described as disorientating latex pop which I think sums up my first experience of seeing SOPHIE live – intense at its best. (TW)

Jackie Shane – ‘Comin’ Down’
I can’t resist adding soul singer Jackie Shane to our playlists. Her wonderfully smooth vocals, sophisticated style and bravery and defiance in the face of transphobia in the early 60s make her a true GIHE icon. (KC)

ALBUM: The Crystal Furs – ‘Beautiful And True’

Growing up, changing and moving on always involves a certain degree of tension. And for cuddlecore trio The Crystal Furs, a move from the more conservative surroundings of Forth Worth, Texas, to the Pacific Northwest’s alt. capital, Portland, has seen a shift in more than just surroundings. The move led to a change in bassist – Rowan, who has also produced their latest album Beautiful and True. But, for keyboardist Kara and her spouse Steph, it meant the discovery of a new identity, mentally, emotionally and sonically. That’s not to say that the band, whose previous releases included their self-titled Texas debut in 2016, and last year’s sophomore Psuedosweet, have entirely left their old stomping ground behind. Indeed, Fort Worth – known colloquially as the ‘Panther City’ – stalks many of the songs herein.

In many respects, the tracks on Beautiful And True fit largely into the two halves of its title, with roughly half sitting in the observational (and therefore ‘true’ category) and the others odes to the beauty of others, and life itself. That the former are often melancholy, whilst the latter are brimming with optimism, probably tells you where band’s emotions are at. Throughout, the album shimmers with its jangly guitar and sweeping organ, as well as Steph Buchanan’s consummate indie-pop vocal delivery (along with occasional harmonies).  While ‘Comeback Girls’ opens things with a twinkling ballad, ‘Expo ’67’ is arguably the LP’s standout in this respect, with Green-era REM meeting The Breeders at the Montreal World Fair of the title, as its narrator finds that their retro-future dreams have faded from fantasy to grey concrete reality.

‘Pretty Mind’ picks up the ’60s style emotional pop, as an ode to the musical escapes of the small-town outsider. ‘Panther City Pariah’, meanwhile, is, thematically, the grown-up sister song to ‘Pretty Mind’ – finding its outcast narrator finding pride in “finish[ing] last” and “fail[ing] in public” out on the street. Musically, its tight guitar chords and organ melodies give it a pleasingly deconstructed blend of upbeat chamber pop and twee indie-disco. This gradual sonic opening up is continued by ‘Too Kind to be Cruel’, which features the album’s first guitar solo and lyrically inverts the old cliche’s message in an attempt to appeal to a friend’s good side, despite negative pressure from others and the wider world.

Appropriately, the album’s middle point encapsulates the themes at its core. ‘Like You’ has vintage doo-wop rhythms and guitars, mirroring the melancholy subjects of the girl groups from the era, with its lyrical take on the envy of the outsider, observing those considered both “beautiful and true”. ‘Burn Us Down’, meanwhile, is thematically and musically the LP’s true outlier: a bass-heavy garage rocker with stabs of organ. With this in mind, it’s hard to avoid the obvious interpretation that the sound is driven by the anger redolent in its lyrics: “your pocketbook against my personhood” presumably relating to the difficulty of accessing healthcare in the USA, while “you wanna cure me / you wanna fix me…our colours bleed across the land” sounds like a strong reference to the battleground of LGBTQ+ rights in the country.

‘Hey Maxine’ is a handclap-backed plea to someone unfairly treated; ‘Artoria’ is an upbeat lilt with a big chorus, an ode to the famous ‘tattooed lady’ carnival attraction Artoria Gibbons – whose ink now makes her seem less of a ‘freak’ and more of a forerunner; ‘Drag You Away’ is a C86-hued reflection on the horror nightmare of ‘podunk’ towns, replete with a doomy bass breakdown, although whether the zombies of its lyrics are literal or metaphorical is up to the listener to decide.

Penultimate track ‘The Robber Barons of Lombard Street’ is a tale of revenge against gentrification and the co-opting of the rainbow flag by capitalism, with arguably the album’s darkest imagery of “pistol loads” and a “building swallowed by flames” as “two femmes” take revenge.  However, it’s a contrast when it comes to album closer ‘Second Time Around’ – a celebratory hymn to second chances – and the album’s other standout, with its simple instruction to those listening: “Join a band and play guitar”, and make the most of being young, all over again.

To craft one album of three minute pop gems is impressive. To release two in a little over a year borders on compulsive creativity. And to suffer no let up in quality across the course of that time demonstrates that, as my grandmother was found of saying: a change is as good as a rest. It’s something of a well-worn expression, that adult life is about ‘finding oneself’, but it certainly seems for the Buchanans, and their band, that all of the changes in their life have enabled them to do just that. And what they’ve found are winning alt. indie-pop purveyors in the mould of Helen Love. Beautiful And True is an album whose title could not be clearer: it is what it says it is.

Listen to Beautiful And True on Bandcamp now:

 

John McGovern
@etinsuburbiaego