Music plays a strong part in the solidification of identity and is used as both a medium and a message during times of radical societal shifts in groupthink. The explosion of visible queerness within the last decade is no exception to this rule; queer folks now more than ever are looking to stand up for their identities and express themselves in an unapologetic fashion, and music is one of the most accessible means of this expression. To wrap up Pride Week we wanted to solicit the opinions and experiences of some of our favorite DIY and underground queer musicians, and to hear their thoughts on the intersection of queerness and the musical journey.

Heidi Lorenz (Heidi Lorenz, Octonomy, GODXSS)

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Photo by Alex Norelli

Dear Darkling: Tell us a little bit about your music!

Heidi: My niche and my passion is electronic music. I produce textural dancey noisy synth songs and DJ industrial & dark techno under the name Heidi Lorenz. I’m also in a two-piece new-age/industrial band called GODXSS with another amazing queer musician, and have a solo noise/ambient project called Octonomy.

Has being queer influenced your creative process at all? If so, how?

Definitely. I don’t tend to utilize queerness as an overt topic in my music, but my identity dictates how I navigate the world. I grew up admiring and idolizing non-binary, androgynous, LGBTQ+ artists. I remember seeing the music video for Dead Or Alive’s “You Spin Me Round” when I was very young; in addition to having one of the greatest arpeggiation sequences ever (second only to Donna Summer/Giorgio Moroder’s “I Feel Love”), Pete Burns’ presence instantly mesmerized me. For the first time in my young life I saw a person occupying a space outside of normative, narrowly defined gender roles. I got super into new wave. My formative influences when I was a kid were so genderfucked; I was obsessed with the pop sensibility and alien androgyny of Bowie, Nina Hagen, and Klaus Nomi. In high school when I was really struggling with my sexual orientation I saw a video of Roxy Music’s “Virginia Plain“. This was such a pivotal and important video for me for two reasons: first was young, femme Brian Eno’s fab, massive, glam, shimmery silver jacket, and also Brian Eno’s EMS VCS3 synth solo. I was like “I HAVE to figure out how to make that sound.” Everything in Brian Eno’s entire discography has changed my life and I have been completely into synthesizers ever since. From there I explored ambient music, experimental/avant-garde, and modern minimalist composers, krautrock, synthpop, EBM. Iannis Xenakis. Aphex Twin. Finding Throbbing Gristle and Genesis P-Orridge was big. I got really into industrial and noise. These days I listen to weird shit and techno. Anything that destroys and births textural, unearthly alien sounds. I have queers to thank for this.

In many music genres (specifically the underground and DIY scenes) being queer is accepted, but great strides still need to be made for full tolerance and inclusion of all sexual and gender identities. Have you found this to be true in your own musical journey?

Before I was primarily turning knobs, I played bass & guitar in a number of bands spanning different genres. It’s strange, some scenes are very accepting and inclusive and others are not. The more machismo a scene has, the more exclusionary of women, PoC, and LGBTQ+ folks it’ll be. I have a perpetual gripe with the whole white-boy-guitar-band thing. So much of rock/guitar culture just feels like unoriginal jerking off. Getting into noise, electronic music, and DJing was cool because there are really great spaces made by women, queer folks & our allies within this scene – there’s no lack of douchey machismo, of course (see Konstantin’s latest sexist remarks), but I’m just happy labels like Discwoman and parties like #BRX exist. I’m also happy there are lots of queer people in the noise scene. As unexpected as you might think it is, the noise scene I have participated in over the past few years has some of the most down to earth, sensitive, empathetic, and aware people in it. It’s so much more welcoming to misfits and marginalized people. In some ways it feels like there’s less of a stigma here.

If there are any blossoming queer musicians reading this interview, what would be your one piece of advice be for them?

Never be afraid to make your music political; always bring other queer/marginalized folks into your community and your music projects (the more the merrier!); dress how you want to dress while performing; and most importantly, throw your guitar in the trash and get a synthesizer.

Do you have any favorite queer musicians you think we should check out?

Listen to Genesis P-Orridge, if you haven’t already.


Jared Hines (A Band Called Flash)

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Photo by Richard Gin

Dear Darkling: Tell us a little bit about your music!

Jared: A Band Called Flash came to be through a friend of my father’s, Ron Trent. He and I had collaborated on a few tracks together previously, and one day he came to me with this idea for a live sounding project that sounded like it was produced in the late 70’s. Ron is basically God of underground house music in Europe, and in America too really. He had been living in Berlin, and this was his prediction for where the music scene there was headed. Him and my father sent me references from Dinosaur L(Arthur Russel), Freeez, Atmosfear; like really obscure stuff. I was super skeptical at first; like what market in the world would be interested in this besides me? But I also love love love love that style of music and eventually put together 5 tracks, which became the Mother Confessor EP. I’ve done two vinyl now, which we’re well received much to my surprise. My third EP will be released in the fall.

Has being queer influenced your creative process at all? If so, how?

Yes, but in ways it took me years to realize this. So, my father has been a DJ since the early 80’s; I was practically conceived in the Paradise Garage, like the sickest queer club NY will probably ever know. They were tight with Keith Haring. (He drew my mother pregnant with me on a leather jacket. I have a picture of him holding a 2 month old me. Humble brag.) Because of this, when I was a toddler, all I heard was like Larry Levan’s “Paradise Garage” mix and a ton of obscure stuff from the early 80’s no one remembers. When I got into writing music in college, all this music flooded back into my life. I was discovering myself, as one does, and having this amazing base of like, queerness has always had me, it’s what makes me feel at home, it’s the music I love, it’s my history, really made accepting myself comfy and smooth. With A Band Called Flash, I’ve been given the opportunity to remind people how amazing this music is, and to refresh it for the new generation. The sound, the fashion, the attitude of disco is me, and I make sure to incorporate it into everything I do musically.

In many music genres (specifically the underground and DIY scenes) being queer is accepted, but great strides still need to be made for full tolerance and inclusion of all sexual and gender identities. Have you found this to be true in your own musical journey?

Masculinity is whack. Masculinity is whack. Masculinity is whack. I make men very uncomfortable whenever I perform, but that’s more for my own enjoyment. I can be comfortable because disco has the luxury of queer ancestry. A lot of artists, especially hip-hop artists, aren’t going to be allowed comfort. Hip-hop is very masc, very queer-phobic, and it’s where the most change needs to take place. Looking at you, Offset.

If there are any blossoming queer musicians reading this interview, what would be your one piece of advice be for them?

Do you. Do what you feel. Be visible. Let people know bout those pronouns. Let people know we out here.

Do you have any favorite queer musicians you think we should check out?

Well I shouldn’t have to tell you about Frank or Syd, right? Right? Kaytranada is dope, choice dance music. Also this angel; I caught him singing at the Lesson at Arlene’s Grocery once and he melted me. His voice is perfection.


Lex Nihilum (Sunrot, Skin Pop)

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Photo by Nicole Spangenburg

Dear Darkling: Tell us a little bit about your music!

Lex: I’m in a band called Sunrot and I have a little side project called Skin Pop. Sunrot is a heavier band; we categorize ourselves as compulsive post-noise power sludge, which was really just a joke because we are all over the place, but it ended up being pretty accurate. We make music that we hope to be experienced as abrasive and noisy, we like to touch on existential topics, and also enjoy petting cats and dogs everywhere we go.

Has being queer influenced your creative process at all? If so, how?

I think so. Being queer in a society in which heteronormativity is the majority invokes all kinds of emotions, especially in Chump’s America. I mostly create based on my emotions and perspectives, so it’s got to be mixed in there somewhere.

In many music genres (specifically the underground and DIY scenes) being queer is accepted, but great strides still need to be made for full tolerance and inclusion of all sexual and gender identities. Have you found this to be true in your own musical journey?

When I am inside the close knit circle of The Meatlocker folks (a DIY punk venue in Montclair, NJ), with touring bands we know, or homies in local bands we play with, I find so much inclusion and tolerance. It’s incredible. My band mates specifically are absolutely amazing, to the point where they have offered to escort me into bathrooms if I’m not feeling safe. They are wonderful. Also shout out to my brother Scot from the band Organ Dealer; he was one of the first people to really make me feel valid in my identity. However, there have definitely been moments in other areas, a few bars in random places we’ve played on tours, where I have felt like, ‘Nope, this is not my space’ and couldn’t wait to play and leave.

If there are any blossoming queer musicians reading this interview, what would be your one piece of advice be for them?

You, my queerdo compadre, have infinite power. Don’t back down. Don’t feel like you have to be anything you are not. You are valid, you are important, you have something to offer, and you deserve community just as much as anyone else.

Do you have any favorite queer musicians you think we should check out?

Yes! Ides, Inertia., HIRS, Library, Trashy, Spandex, Heat Death, Soothsayer, Nine Of Swords, Humanmania, Claw, Mudbeard, Heavy Temple, Vile Creature.

Featured image of Heidi Lorenz shot by Alex Norelli.

Corinne Dodenhoff

Corinne Dodenhoff

Corinne is a designer, illustrator, body positive activist, dirty punk and avid internet user. When she's not trading art for entry into DIY shows or making Spotify playlists, she's working as the co-founder of Babe Coven, petting her cat or wailing on the drums.

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