PRIDE 2020 EMERGING ARTISTS & FAVORITES
Pride month has arrived, and while the parades might be scaled back due to COVID-19, the talent of LGBTQ Music Artists certainly shines brighter than ever. To help you celebrate pride, we’re bringing you 20 queer artists that you NEED to hear. I’d like to preface this post by saying that the goal here is simply to highlight LGBTQ talent in honor of pride month, but make no mistake - these are artists who we love and celebrate year round.
I know you people probably didn’t come here for a history lesson, so I’ll keep it brief, but I feel that it’s important to acknowledge the origins of pride. The first pride parade occured on June 28th, 1970 to mark the 1 year anniversary of the Stonewall riots. The Stonewall riots were the most important event leading up to the Gay Liberation Movement. Central figures of this movement included Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera. It is so essential, now more than ever, that we never forget the trans women of color who helped to lead the fight for LGBTQ rights. The Stonewall Riots are not something that I learned about in school, so I highly encourage everyone to do some research on the powerful history of this movement. Here’s a great place to start.
As our blog is also a label and music publisher, we’ve also been very excited and proud to have worked with and and supported our favorites (and past write ups): Big Freedia, SOPHIE, TR/ST and Jesse Saint John - if you’re not familiar with them, please check them out and support!
Without further ado, I present to you our Pride 2020 Emerging Artists!
A few weeks ago, we did a write up on the return of the amazing artist Zebra Katz. He pushes boundaries on genres and creates music that can both make you dance and really think about society. The project of Ojay Morgan, Zebra Katz was born out of a one man show called “Moor Contradictions.” The show addressed the type casting surrounding people of color in Shakesphere. After a period of time spent travelling and creating, Zebra Katz is back with explosive new songs.
Pop visionary Dorian Electra is not one to hold back. Known for their signature mustache, impressive music videos, and skillful vocal abilities, Dorian pushes the definition of pop music and explores all of the places it can go. On “Adam and Steve,” Dorian addresses violence against queer people, conversion therapy, and their relationship with Christianity, but ultimately comes to one declaration: “God made me / and he loves me.”
19 year old singer-songwriter, mxmtoon, has grabbed the world’s attention with her honest lyrics. She has become the voice of a generation, as she is relatable and outspoken. From a viral following on TikTok to appearing on various charts, mxmtoon has turned internet fame into a path of lasting success.
Raveena’s velvety voice sits atop lush R&B arrangements. Citing influences of Sade, Corinne Bailey Rae, and Asha Puthli, Raveena explores various avenues of R&B on standout tracks “Honey,” “If Only,” and “Sweet Time.” The New York based artist hopes to normalize the representation of brown, queer voices in media.
Non-binary, indie artist Claud has steadily released music, toured with The Marias and Clairo, and has built up a strong following. On “Wish You Were Gay,” Claud tells a story of unrequited love from a perspective often not represented. Recently featured on Cautious Clay’s “Cheesin’,” their music is often fun, always honest, and undeniably refreshing.
Leon Else makes music that you can both dance and cry to. On “Signs,” Else addresses needing help with mental health struggles. The brave, empowering lyrics are supported by a chill pop track. In an interview with Attitude, Else describes the resilience of the LGTBQ community when it comes to mental health, stating “the power of the queer community is a true force, with voices that will be heard and a resilience that will never back down.” In a more anthemic uptempo bop, “Dance” (above) celebrates the joyous side of Leon.
Rina Sawayama is having a major year after the release of SAWAYAMA. While the album is full of bops, it’s also full of depth and strong lyricism. Sawayama has dedicated ballad “Chosen Family” to all queer people who have felt ostracized by people at home. She encourages everyone to find their “Chosen Family” and appreciate those who have your back no matter what. While creating badass, danceable tracks, Sawayama also uses her platform to speak about the importance of queer Asian visibility.
ALICE LONGYU GAO
Alice Longyu Gao is a badass. She is a DJ, she is a classically trained musician, and she is a performance artist. Alice is someone who doesn’t just talk the talk, she walks the walk. She is a strong advocate for LGBTQ+ rights and was even featured in the 2017 and 2018 NYC Pride Parades. Collaborating with Dylan Brady (100 gecs) her song “Rich Bitch Juice,” is empowering, exciting, and oddly comforting.
If you’ve been keeping up with We Are: The Guard, you’re probably hip to Yves Tumor. The project of Sean Bowie (who uses they/them and he/him pronouns), Yves Tumor exists in this really cool genre bending, spacey zone. Their music is groovy, electronic, atmospheric, and filled with R&B and glam rock influence.
About a year ago, Wrabel released “The Village” with Billboard and GLAAD in response to Trump’s proposal to ban transgender people from military service. The powerful video shows the struggles of a transgender high schooler as Wrabel’s soaring voice belts out “There’s something wrong in the village...There’s nothing wrong with you.” As an openly gay singer and songwriter, Wrabel uses his platform to speak out and educate, while creating some seriously beautiful tunes!
The youngest artist on this list, Isaac Dunbar, is a 17 year old alternative pop powerhouse. Dunbar has used his music as a way to express self acceptance. On “makeup drawer,” Dunbar learns to love all sides of himself. At just 17, Dunbar has created one of those great gay anthms that can inspire and encourage others on their journey to self love and acceptance.
Sudanese-American artist Dua Saleh creates some of the best new indie music that is unlike anything else. Saleh studied gender, women’s sexuality studies, and sociology at Augsburg University. They use their platform to help empower queer, trans and non-binary people, especially those in Sudan. They mix indie rock and hip-hop, with poetry, storytelling, and more abstract elements. With an EP on the way, we could not be more excited!
Off of his January EP, “I Saw a Boy at the Party,” Myylo talks about falling in love with a stranger from across the room. While this is a topic we hear about frequently in pop music, we often don’t hear it from the perspective of men who are attracted to men. With catchy pop melodies and clever lyrics, Myylo is a rising pop songwriter to keep an eye on.
Rosie Tucker is a breath of fresh air. Their songs mix humor with depth, literal phrases and metaphors, and captivating harmony. In an interview with Sterogum, Tucker described “Gay Bar” as a celebration of “incredible spectrum of characters dressed to impress at your average regional queer watering hole.”
When he’s not writing and producing hits for Betty Who, COIN, Selena Gomez P!nk, and many more, Peter Thomas can be found writing and releasing music for his own artist project. On “Look at What We’ve Done,” Thomas discusses accidentally falling in love. Born out of thoughts inspired by Call Me By Your Name, “Look at What We’ve Done” is sweet and light, with lyrics like “When did home start to look like your face.” In an interview with Billboard, Thomas discussed feeling inspired by watching “Frank Ocean and Sam Smith and so many other incredible artists own their truth and weave it so beautifully into their musical lives.”
Bronze Avery has given us a summer anthem on synth pop jam “Boys!” In an interview with Billboard, Avery discussed using his platform to represent the experiences and the lives of gay black men in an accurate way. “My truth is being normalized, and I can have a plot where I have a crush on my dance instructor or I can get my heart broken, or I can own a business.”
While Perfume Genius has been releasing music since 2010, Set My Heart on Fire Immediately is too good to omit from this list. The project of Matt Hadreas, Perfume Genius’ new album arrived on May 15th. On “Whole Life,” he explores changing for the better, and how difficult this can be.
Sabrina Teitelbaum (a.k.a. BAUM) smashes stereotypes with powerful pop anthems. On “Fuckboy,” BAUM flips the script and challenges the typical love/heartbreak stories. Instead of the woman ending up heartbroken, BAUM talks about wanting something more casual. On “Hot Water,” she discusses discovering her sexuality, and on “This Body,” she addresses catcallers.
Ladies and gentlemen, if you’ve never heard of JORDY, buckle up. JORDY has consistently delivered earworm after earworm and once you hear his songs, you will be singing and dancing for DAYS. In addition to his melodies being incredibly catchy, his lyrics are relatable. On his most recent release “BOYS BOYS BOYS,” JORDY flips the common saying “boys will be boys,” and offers a fresh new perspective on what this means.
Serpentwithfeet (Josiah Wise) exists at the awesome crossroads of gospel, classical, pop, and experimental music. New release “A Comma” is filled with skillful musicianship, hope, and reflection. If you’re feeling down because the world kind of sucks right now, be comforted by Wise’s hope in life getting easier.
Well, there you have it: our Pride 2020 New Artists to look out for. We hope that these songs will encourage you to dance, celebrate each other, and act to support minority communities. If protesting isn’t your jam right now due to COVID-19, please consider using your online platform to educate yourself and those around you, as well as donate to the Homeless Black Trans Women fund if you can. Happy Pride! Stay safe, healthy, and kind.
Arielle Tindel is from Cleveland, Ohio. She recently graduated from Berklee College of Music with degrees in Music Business Marketing and Songwriting. In her free time, Arielle can be found gardening or playing bass.