10 queer Toronto bands you should be listening to
Toronto's got it good when it comes to a supply of talented queer bands and musicians. But what does it mean to be a queer musician? What makes these artists different than any others? Like all minorities, there are differences in certain ways we experience life, especially when it comes to love, loss, and relationships. These musicians provide a voice for our stories. Perhaps you can relate to the downfalls of having PMS to the power of two. Or, you know what it's like to pretend you don't recognize your barista from Grindr. Whatever it may be, what I'm trying to say is this - queer musicians have a way of putting our experiences into just the right words.
Names like Diamond Rings, Ohbijou, and Owen Pallett are pretty much on everyone's radar, so this list sets out to highlight those who aren't quite as widely known. The following ten bands and musicians range from veterans of the industry to young up-and-comers; all possessing the ability to create outstanding music.
Lead-singer Lucas Silveira is a hero in the queer community, becoming the first "out" transgender man ever signed to a major record label. Since 2004, The Cliks have released four albums, performed on national late night TV, and have toured with Cyndi Lauper, The Cult, and The New York Dolls. The band is continually developing, and their latest album, Black Tie Elevator, has a matured blues-rock sound that has taken them in a whole new direction.
Over the past decade, Gentleman Reg's career has skyrocketed. He first gained recognition by lending his music to the hit show Queer as Folk, and the cult film Short Bus. In 2008 he signed to Arts & Crafts, where he released the albums Little Buildings and Jet Black. He has spent a lot of the last three years working on his latest release Leisure Life, launching his side project, Light Fires, and collaborating with influential acts like Broken Social Scene and Tegan and Sara.
In the last four years, Courtney Lynn has taken her poetic solo-project to venues like The Drake Hotel, Rivoli and The Cameron House. She's opened for The Strumbellas, Dan Griffin of the Arkells, and Forest City Lovers. Her expertly crafted independent debut The Green Wood Symphony has a quirky modern folk feel, and was recognized with a nomination for Best Acoustic Song by the Independent Music Awards.
Keep your ears open for this multi-talented lady, she's about to be everywhere! You may have heard of her band, The C'mons, who were listed as one of BlogTO's break out bands of 2013. They are set to release their second EP this February, and they'll be hitting up NXNE, and Toronto Pride later this year. Aside from the band, Steph has lent her vocals to collaborations with Tre Mission, Richard Beynon, and David A. Under the name Thes, the launch of her ambient solo project is under way. She's currently working on her debut EP with Montreal producer xSDTRK, and you can get a taste of her vocals on his tune "Powder".
Mitch is a self-taught singer, producer, and composer who makes the kind of music that hooks you after only one listen. He recently recorded an EP with intentions to focus on his budding music career, while at the same time his YouTube channel AsapSCIENCE received a casual 2 million subscribers. He's a little busy at the moment, but plans to pursue more writing and performing in the near future.
Kelly McMichael and The Gloss
Kelly is hugely sought after musician - she's performed with Gentleman Reg, Ohbijou, Sarah Harmer, The Hidden Cameras, Forest City Lovers, Allie Hughes (ALX), The Magic, and Devon Sproule. Kelly is responsible for the electro-pop band Rouge who played several Canadian music festivals and toured regularly between Ontario and St. John's, NL. Now with a project under her own name she's released a 5 song EP, Liminal, recorded with Ohbijou's James Bunton, and she's been playing frequently with The Gloss regularly to promote it.
The Fox and the Moon
This trio is representin' the folkier side of things. The group met in school at Recording Arts Canada, where they found their singing and songwriting talents to be perfectly complimentary. They are new to the Toronto scene, but their polished sound has gained them headlining slots galore. In less than a year, they've appeared at Lee's Palace, Cherry Cola's, Rivoli, The Central, The Cameron House, and played for the Folk Music Ontario Conference. Keep an eye on these folks, they are just getting started.
This 19-year-old has an astounding number of accomplishments already under her belt. She's received multiple nominations for Music Nova Scotia and East Coast Music awards, and has achieved finalist slots in the John Lennon Songwriting and International Song contests. She won Young Performer of the Year at the 2011 Canadian Folk Music Awards, as well as the She's the One competition at the 2012 Ottawa Bluesfest, and the Emerging Artist Series at Summerfest in 2013.
If you frequent The Beaver, you probably have seen this sassy powerhouse performer. Boy Pussy hosts parties all over the city, decked out in drag, working her husky tone, singing songs about gender, love, and - you guessed it - sex.
Lisa was named one of CBC's top artists to watch in 2010, and since then, she's opened for Ohbijou across Canada, collaborated with Stevie Jackson (Belle and Sebastian) , and played festivals all over the country. Her 2012 release This is How We Swim was recorded by Heather Kirby (Ohbijou) and features members of Timber Timbre, Bry Webb and Muskox.