On the newest single from her upcoming Kick i album, beat wizard Arca returns with "Nonbinary," exploring her inward journey around gender.

To say that gender and sexuality are confusing in 2020 is to put it mildly. It seems there are no shades, hues, and degrees of gender expression being explored every day. The traditional definitions around gender roles are constantly shifting, as well. What does it mean to be a woman in 2020? A man? Somewhere in-between? Both at the same time? It's all so confusing!

However tricky it might get, it's worth it. It has to happen. To do otherwise runs the risk of leaving people behind, leaving people out. "Representation matters," is not some empty slogan for corporate wellness meetings. It's life or death. There may be some young marginalized person out there who's lost and struggling, and seeing or hearing someone like themselves may be the thing they need to help keep them going.

And who better to comment on such sensitive such matter than Arca, a musician who's experienced nearly every phase and nuance of the journey, starting out first as a gay man, then transitioning to non-binary in 2018, and now coming out as a trans woman.

Arca's identity isn't the only thing that casts light on the shifting spectrum of gender. Arca belongs to a vanguard of truly avant-garde artists, usually working in the electronic realm, artists like Angel Ho and Amnesia Scanner and Actress and Serpentwithfeet. It's such strange and genre-smashing music, it doesn't even really have a name. It's unmistakable when you hear it, however, often quivering like it's just been removed from a vat of synthetic proteins, strobing like a T1000 factory gone mad. Sounds rarely sit still and announce themselves. Everything is always in a state of flux.



That makes "Nonbinary" the perfect soundtrack, and the ultimate sonification, of Arca's journey around gender. It's to her credit, and says so much, that this challenging, boundary-pushing musician can drop a single that is basically a two-minute long stream-of-consciousness rant through some sort of alien vocoder, over the barest glimmer of a club beat. That's going to be some club that'll drop "Nonbinary" on the soundsystem. And, We Are: The Guard, for one, can't wait to find that club!


J. Simpson occupies the intersection between criticism, creativity, and academia. Based out of Portland, Or., he is the author of Forestpunk, an online journal/brand studying the traces of horror, supernatural, and the occult through music, fashion and culture. He plays in the dreamfolk band Meta-Pinnacle with his partner Lily H. Valentine, with whom he also co-founded Bitstar Productions, a visual arts collective focused on elevating Pop Culture to High Art.