For LGBTQ+ history month, an exploration of three artists and bands bringing queer expression into their songwriting
It’s often said that if you want something done well, you must do it yourself. This perfectly sums up the new wave of LGBTQ+ musicians that have risen up in recent years. With fresh ideas, unapologetic themes, and powerful lyrics that have been getting people on their feet worldwide, these are three queer artists that should be on your radar.
Starting here in Glasgow, Uninvited are a four-piece rock outfit with politically charged lyrics and punchy instrumentals. This marks them as an unapologetic breath of fresh air in what is otherwise a cis-male dominated genre. Formed in 2020, the group, consisting of Bex Young (lead guitar), Taylor Ray Dillon (bass and vocals), Gillian Dhlakama (guitar and vocals), and Fiorenza Cocozza (drums), featured on BBC Live Lounge earlier this year as they performed a cover and their original song Behind the Black Door.
The song, which beat out over 4000 entries in the BB Live Lounge contest, is a fast-paced pop-punk number dealing with themes of gender and the class divide. Lyrics like “Nobody listens my voice is too soft/ I try to complain but they don’t give a fuck”, and the much more direct “protect trans kids”, cast the song as an explicit attack against those who have long tried to exclude those groups from the rock scene. But it also shows that Uninvited are also willing to engage with larger debates over a host of issues, such as healthcare and class struggle.
Heading into the new year with nominations for both the Scottish Alternative Music and Sound of Young Scotland awards, a UK tour opening for the Nova Twins, and plans for their first EP, Uninvited are just getting started.
Having been out and proud for most of her career, Hayley Kiyoko and her songs have been cited with starting many on their own journeys of self-discovery. Starting in 2016 with her song Girls Like Girls, Kiyoko has committed herself to normalising queer relationships within music. Often referred to as “Lesbian Jesus” by her fans, she has continued to carry these themes through her following albums.
Many of her music videos also portray the LGBTQ+ experience, with This Side of Paradise and Gravel to Tempo dealing with her experiences of having crushes on girls and her journey toward self-acceptance. Writing at a time when queer relationships were a little-discussed topic in music – particularly in pop – her songs became a touchstone for fans that hadn’t ever felt themselves properly expressed before.
In addition to her music, Kiyoko has undertaken several campaigns with pride organisations and advocacy groups to bring awareness to a variety of queer and women’s issues. With the release of her sophomore album Panorama last summer, the singer is showing no signs of slowing down.
With the recent success of their song Come Over (Again), which was a viral TikTok hit, CRAWLERS have proved that they are not afraid to shy away from difficult topics such as toxic relationships, while bringing queer themes into the fold. The song found its footing among fans who identified with the loud chorus, which proclaims: “Take her name out of your mouth / You don’t deserve to mourn.” Many transgender fans relate to this lyric through the lens of toxic family relationships that too often arise after they openly express their identity. Some feel that their family did not deserve to mourn the person that they were because it was not their true self, and the band has thoroughly leant its support to this demographic of their fan base, with the song and its chorus becoming a staple of their live shows.
Influenced by bands like Tool and My Chemical Romance – who they supported last year and – CRAWLERS proudly welcomes fans from all walks of life and identities into their ranks. Their concerts often feature a host of pride flags, and loud declarations of acceptance from the band. The themes of inclusion and overcoming your past continue into their new music, as the band prepare to release their first full length album in the new year.