It’s been almost three months since my last live appearance. Although it’s been quiet on the onstage front, I’ve been busy behind the scenes prepping for the album that I hope to finally have released after years (decades, even) of false starts and near-misses. I want to make sure everything comes out in a way that meets my vision 100%–a tricky balance when that vision is ever-evolving. The good news is that the tracklist has been finalized and if all goes well, I should have a master ready to “print” later this year.
I’ve got pie-in-the-sky hopes for this record, and I’m going to do my best to hit the moon–while remaining realistic and grounded about its actual (for lack of better terms) “critical” and “commerical” prospects. I feel like my greatest strength is as a lyricist. So if these songs engage lots of people in some heady, stimulating conversation about some of the topics at hand, that will feel like success to me. Having said that, I’m very excited about (finally) framing my lyrics and melodies within a musical context that they have always deserved. My buddy Jeff will be providing some much needed punch (as in, drums) to some choice cuts, and I can’t stress it enough–my engineer/coproducer/co-conspirator Myke is a genius. You’re the greatest, Myke!
So anyway, it’s Pride Month here in Toronto and around the world, and this year’s festivities have obviously taken on a more gravitational turn in the wake of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando. As a queer POC I was obviously as horrified as most of the rest of the world by what happened. In addition to firing up my anti-partriarchal impulses, it also gave me some brief pause with respect to my raison d’etre as an artist–if only temporarily.
For Pride last year, I put out a song called “I Wish I Were A Lesbian” (currently streaming here), a song that I wrote to confront more superficial aspects of gay male culture–some of that which I myself have felt compelled to buy into and perpetuate, despite my best intentions. I released it the week before Toronto Pride last year, as a sobering kind of statement on the body-fascist-corporatization of what is supposed to be an activist demonstration. It was to be included on the upcoming album, but in the wake of Orlando I wasn’t so sure that would still be a good idea.
I knew–and I know–that people could misinterpet “I Wish I Were A Lesbian” as some sort of self-loathing rant, but I wanted to take that risk because I believe it’s a discussion the community needs to keep having. I’m not a prude by any means–I completely advocate sexuality and sexual expression that breaks monogamist, heteronormative mores, and nowhere in my song do I refute that. (I have a few other songs that go further in ADVOCATING that.) Body fascism and the prioritization of image over substance ARE issues in queer culture, and terrorist attacks or not, that certainly hasn’t changed. And it’s an important part of who I am as an artist — the misfit in a sea of outsiders (now I’m getting REALLY pretentious, hahaha!). So… yes, the song will remain: on the upcoming album, in my repertoire, and as a part of my — ahem — Arsenal.
That’s another thing I briefly considering modifying: the title of the upcoming album. I had decided months ago it would, indeed, be called ARSENAL, and then this bullshit happened. Would this still be appropriate? Am I just the most insensitive fuck in the universe? Oy… and then one of my best friends said, “Keep it. I’m pissed off at this situation. We NEED an Arsenal!” And he’s right. We do. We’re not going to win this fight by cowering, by placating, or by walking on eggshells. Queer activism didn’t get this far by hiding and sanitizing, and it’s not time to start that shit now.
The weaponry in my Arsenal, if you will, is music and words. There is truth to the old saying that the pen is mightier than the sword–and as Woody Guthrie insinuated, a musical instrument is a machine that can indeed confront and kill fascist ideals.
Anyway, that’s all I got for now. I’m trying to alter the look of this website slightly, to match better the look of the album artwork, which at this point is all still in my head. But still! My pal Aaron Ber is helping me make this site even better, and hopefully that will all come to full fruition soon. Anyway, happy Pride, and I hope to have a gig to announce to you all soon.