Although great strides have been made in recent history, the music industry — both in mainstream and alternative circles — still struggles with a disappointing lack of diversity. Indie rock especially tends to be dominated by white male bands.
I recently attended a La Luz show at The Glass House, and I left thinking about toxic masculinity in indie circles. While La Luz is an awesome all-female surf rock group, the opening band was a thoroughly mediocre group of middle-aged white men who very clearly never got over their dreams of being rockstars.
They kept making jokes about drugs (We get it! You smoke weed!) and also created a handful of vaguely sexist and uncomfortable comments. I also noticed that once La Luz took the stage, they had to smile through an excess of objectifying remarks throughout their set that the opening band didn’t have to endure.
I left the event feeling frustrated and very, very tired of white male indie rockers — both those on stage and those in the crowd.
Just in time, however, KSPC kicked off its Femme & Queer Week. In the past, this week was called Week of Womyn, but it was rebranded this year to be more inclusive and to acknowledge the frequent intersections between gender and sexuality.
From March 27 to March 31, KSPC DJs played music by femme and queer artists. The week will be coming to a close by the time this article is published, but if you missed out on tuning into KSPC, here’s my list of just a small handful of great femme and queer artists for you to check out:
Mykki Blanco is a queer, gender-fluid hip hop artist whose experimental rap has been praised by critics. Although she’s been recording and performing for a while, her latest album, “Mykki,” has rocketed her into fame. While most songs on the album share the same sparse instrumentation, they range from slow and moody to bass-heavy and grooving.
Ibeyi is a duo of French-Cuban twin sisters. They sing in English, French, and Yoruba and their songs feature a mixture of Cuban beats and jazz. I’ve been following Ibeyi since their self-titled album was released in 2015 and I highly recommend giving them a listen.
Shamir is a 22 year old genderqueer artist whose songs will make you want to get up and dance. His music blends and bends the genres of pop, R&B, hip-hop, electronic, and ‘90s house.
Le1f is a gay rapper whose songs feature not only banging beats but also politically charged lyrics. It’s hard to not dance and sing along with Le1f’s songs. He also spoke out against Macklemore’s 2013 song, “Same Love,” for ripping off the beat from his song, “Wut.”
Le1f also pointed out via tweet: “do proceeds go to any gay people? The HRSC? Aids foundation? Or does this straight white man keep the money?” in reference to Macklemore. If you care about LGBTQ rights, support queer artists, not straight artists who profit off of the struggles of the queer community.
Mitski is a Japanese-American indie darling. Her songs are often dark and brooding, and when I listen to Mitski I often feel like I’m experiencing a personal exchange with an old friend. She’s performing at The Glass House on April 20, so if you give her a listen and like what you hear, join me at her show!
THEESatisfaction is one of my new favorite groups, though unfortunately, they split up in 2016. Composed of two queer black women, Stas Irons and Cat Harris, THEESatisfaction is an R&B and hip-hop duo. They often sing and rap about issues regarding race, gender, and queerness, and their 2015 album, “EarthEE,” blends jazz with soul, R&B, and hip-hop to take the listener on a beautiful cosmic journey.
Although Femme & Queer Week is a time dedicated to highlighting femme and queer artists, KSPC always strives to play music by underrepresented artists and features different programming initiatives throughout the year, like Centering Black Voices in Media Week. You can listen on 88.7 FM or online at kspc.org, and if you like reading my music column, make sure to tune in to The Orbit with Skye every Friday from 4 to 6 p.m.