To continue celebrating and representing Lesbian Visibility Week, we asked our friend Molly King to tell us all about some LGBT+ female musicians rocking the music world right now. As with any of our round-ups, this is just a flavour of the fantastic range of LGBT+ folks making art and music in the world right now.
Molly is the Head of Development for the fabulous Other Voices – a long-running music series that airs on RTÉ and also a beloved Irish music festival that takes place in Dingle each winter, showcasing Irish music globally. Their most recent project is the beautiful Courage, streaming inspiring performances from brilliant artists to the public during the COVID-19 crisis.
Here are Molly’s suggestions of amazing LGBT+ female musicians to check out during Lesbian Visibility Week and beyond.
I first came across Lindsey Jordan after hearing her tune ‘Thinning’ from her debut record Habit, which the then 16year-old put out in 2016. I remember being struck by the lyricism – she perfectly encapsulated being a bored, angsty teenager with lines like:
“sunlight on the back of my arms/just thins me out/to a different time/I wanna waste mine.”
Jordan’s second record, Lush, built on the earlier, fuzzier, bedroom-y sound of Habit with beautifully produced guitars and raw vocals. ‘Heatwave’ is my standout track from this record. There are a few heartbreakers in there like;
“and I hope whoever it is/ holds their breath around you/’cause I know I did.”
At the grand old age of 20, Snail Mail has two albums behind her and years of tour buses and shows under her belt. I really can’t wait to see what’s next. She’s an absolute wizard on the guitar and also GAS. Check out her Pitchfork over/under here for a LOL about how everyone at her teenage Hockey Camp, including her, was gay, and none of them realised. Classic.
Bonus Queer Gal Fact: She’s currently dating Amandla Stenberg.
Listen to: Thinning, Pristine, The 2nd Most Beautiful Girl In The World
Jay Som, also known as Melina Duterte, is a queer Filipino-American who writes beautiful lo-fi bedroom-y, hazy, indie music. Her influences span from Yo La Tengo to Carly Rae Jepsen and she ebbs between shoegaze, grunge, bedroom-pop and indie with care and ease. With hooky choruses on tracks like ‘The Bus Song’ and strong queer energy from songs like ‘Lipstick Stains’, what’s not to love about Jay Som?
She’s part of a slew of incredible contemporary indie voices coming up right now, having toured with Mitski (we stan), Japanese Breakfast, Always, Mothers, Lucy Dacus, Soccer Mommy ++ and landed a great support slot with The National (anyone catch her at their Dublin show in 2018?). For anyone who wants to get involved, I’ve got a Spotify playlist here called Indie Queens for your perusal.
Listen to: Baybee, If You Want it
Anyone who’s seen the Pillow Queens gals play live knows the energy and confidence they bring to every show. Personally, I love nothing more than roaring “I’m not a rat if you’re not a rat” at the top of my lungs in a sea of Pillow Queens fans.
With palpable authenticity, grit, emotion and humour, Pillow Queens’ brand of lo-fi indie cuts through and shines brightly. If you haven’t already, check out the video for ‘Gay Girls’ (directed by Kate Dolan, another queer gal), well up listening to ‘Brothers’, and go buy their records.
Here’s a deadly Other Voices performance of ‘Rats’:
Bonus Queer Gal Fact: Pillow Queens graced the cover of GCN in 2019 with a truly majestic homage to the movie, The Favourite.
Muna established themselves as LGBT+ female musicians and activists from the very beginning of their careers. Muna has an interesting juxtaposition going for them in that they’re viewed as punks on the fringes, while musically creating increasingly sophisticated, big room pop music that has had them touring with Harry Styles and The 1975. As Pitchfork put it, “they’re hidden in plain sight”.
With two albums released so far, their second record Saves The World came out in 2019, to great reviews, excellent singles ( ‘Number One Fan’ was one of my most listened to tracks of 2019) and some excellent music videos. I’m a big fan of the ‘Taken’ video which looks like it came straight out of a 2001 Shania Twain/Coyote Ugly mood board. These three women 100% embody queerness and I, for one, am here for it. They’ve said of their second album, “Saving yourself is the key to saving the world”. Amen.
Listen to: Taken, Number One Fan
Claire Cottrill, aka Clairo, put out her debut record Immunity (produced by Rostam Batmanglij) in 2019 and I was hooked immediately. I’d been aware of Clairo as this teenager who blew up on YouTube seemingly overnight with her song ‘Pretty Girl’, starting her career with her signature lo-fi, bedroom pop sound. ‘Pretty Girl’ has over 40 million views on YouTube with a very teenage looking Clairo messing around in her college dorm room mouthing the lyrics “I could be your pretty girl, shut up when you want me to”.
Immunity is a big step up for Clairo, presenting a beautiful, thoughtful body of work, that has just enough of everything in it. Nothing is overproduced, and there’s an ease to each track – ‘Sofia’ is a low key banger named for crushes she had on Sofia Coppola and Sofia Vergara. ‘Bags’ is a brighter, more focused track than her more lo-fi cuts, inspired by one of her first experiences with a girl and learning to be comfortable in a place of the unknown. Clairo does a great Genius piece on this, breaking down the lyrics. This is a near-perfect album. Give it a listen!
Listen to: Sofia, Softly, Bags
King Princess, aka Mikaela Straus, is a “young, queer, female-presenting alpha” crafting a truly subversive image through her music. Her debut album, Cheap Queen, came out in 2019 and is largely about her relationship with ex-friend, actress Amandla Stenberg.
At 21, she seems to be constantly developing and innovating as an artist, balancing an older-style rock bravado with celebratory sadness and angst. Her first single, ‘1950’ (inspired by Patricia Highsmith’s novel, The Price of Salt) was an instant hit with a heap of radio play. Subverting heteronormative stereotypes and having them fit seamlessly on radio playlists has come easily to Straus. More of this, please.
Listen to: 1950, Talia,
Adrianne Lenker / Big Thief
Adrianne Lenker has this timeless voice that could be from another decade entirely and yet, you always know it’s her. The rawness and register of her voice are impossible to ignore. The lead singer of Big Thief, she has also released music as a solo artist. She is a prolific songwriter. I fell in love with her voice via Big Thief’s first record, Masterpiece, and fell still deeper for their second, Capacity.
Two Big Thief albums and a solo record later, Lenker shows no signs of slowing down. Stories unfold themselves from her with an earnestness and honesty that is deeply captivating. Songs like ‘Mary’ roll out complex stories and dreamlike images with lines like “her hands were making artefacts in the corner of my mind”.
As you can probably tell, I’m a big fan. Go and listen immediately.
Listen to: Mary, Cattails, Shark Smile
LGBT+ Female Musicians Honourable Mentions:
The Internet / Syd
Christine & The Queens
The Japanese house
You can follow find out more about Other Voices here and follow Molly King on Twitter, @Mollzer_King.
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