Art has always been queer and if it hasn’t it’s because of deliberate erasure. As more queer stories reach the mainstream, it’s also time to celebrate the many queer musicians that are creating a confluence of their identities and their respective art forms. Art is an extension of identity, and the musicians we reached out to are queering our playlists, one beat, one lyric, one chord at a time. To quote Stokes- “I think we’ll eventually get to a point where no one will write a story about queer artists in music because it won’t be new or different anymore. It’ll just be the way of the world and the way of the industry. That’s the day we’re looking forward to.” We’ve curated a list of some beautiful queer musicians for you should be listening to right now.
Teenasai Balamu, who goes by the stage name, ‘GrapeGuitarBox’ has been performing music professionally since 2016. Recently, their song ‘Meant to be Yours’ was played on the BBC Radio. They believe art is political and is also a form of resistance. Speaking about it to SheThePeople they said, ” It is a minor inconvenience for me to be out (because of my privilege) if it means that my music and visibility can positively affect someone who needs it. ”
Talking about their music they said “Most of my music comes from lived experiences. Some of it is improvised around those experiences. The singles I am releasing now are a reflection of my experiences over the last thought. I was in a toxic relationship (so I wrote ‘Run’), thought I fell in love again (‘Wait For You’), and did fall in love (‘Meant To Be Yours’). The singles that I will release this year are similar in terms of the timeline of these experiences. ”
Prakti is a Delhi based musician, whose musical journey began in primary school. Since then performing across open-mics and encouraged by great audiences, she has done gigs around the city. Her debut record ‘Why Don’t You Speak’ is out and currently streaming across platforms.
Some musicians that she aspires to write like are Julian Lage, Lianne La Havas and Sara Bareilles. Her writing style is inspired by her inner world. The kind of music she creates is eclectic and she experiments combining various emotions and genres. Speaking to SheThePeople she says, “The art is bold and unique as is any form of art that comes out of many years of suppression. I can see queer art becoming more popular in the coming years as people become more curious and open-minded about the experiences of the LGBTQIA+ community and how it resonates with their experiences of suppression and acceptance.”
Reji started beatboxing in 9th and for a long while he didn’t even know it was called beatboxing. A student of Jesus and Mary college, he’s been actively performing in Delhi since 2018. Be it a soulful melody or an already hyped song, add Reji to it and you will have the audience on its toes. He has performed at SURGE- Delhi Beatbox championship and Montage, amongst other events and his beatboxing style is inspired by Kaila Mullady
When asked about what he feels about the current scene of queer music to SheThePeople he said, “There have always been Queer artists in the field music, of course, but lately the artist have been charging through the door and making their identities a part of their music. It’s great to see queer artists raising the pride flag high in the field of music and I only want us to keep flourishing.”
Jay Anand is an acoustic guitarist, singer, songwriter and educator based in New Delhi. He has performed extensively as a solo artist in India and California. He currently performs internationally as an Acoustic Pop Rock Artist. His music talks about human relationships and vulnerabilities through his cross-genre composition. You can also find their ‘India India Playlist’ on Spotify. The Indie Indian Pride is a wonderfully alchemic playlist – a collection of songs created by queer singer-songwriters.
Alisha Batth is a Mumbai based artist who dabbles around Indie, Folk and Rock music. Her most recent release is a single called ‘Blue River’ – it mostly speaks of the process of letting go. Her debut EP, Prologue’ came out in 2018 October, when she moved back to India from Paris, it was co-written with a friend. Speaking about inspiration to SheThePeople she said: “What inspires me to write is always something that moves me, could be people, lovers, the forces of nature or something that I can’t quite understand fully, so it can also be a bit of questioning myself.” Adding to that, she is inspired by the 90s alt-folk-rock space and artists like Ani Difranco, PJ Harvey, Nick Cave.
She added, “I haven’t ever labelled my music as queer, as for me it’s just an aspect of who I am – its always been that way. On the other hand, visibility within and outside for the queer communities has grown, as a landscape shift and thats really beautiful. I just hope that more and more people express themselves freely and with utter joy for being themselves.”
Anureet is an Intern at SheThePeople TV