Shannon Lindsay (she/they)
Genre – much like gender – is a social construct that I do not believe in, so my music taste has never been linear enough to pinpoint it to a specific genre. This being said, here are a handful of queer artists who frequent my playlists and could keep my best friend and I up discussing music theory and production for hours on end.
Eva Westphal writes songs that resonate with those who listen, notably songs that are rooted in her own queer identity. The emerging artist wants her songs to inspire people to find and fall in love with their own authenticity, and they have quickly become popular amongst young queer girls. A frequent feature in any of my playlists, ‘She’s Mine’ is Westphal’s ode to her girlfriend, which beautifully encapsulates the feeling of comfort you have when you are in a loving, safe relationship. Westphal’s ‘dreamy’ sound is reminiscent of old Celtic folk music, giving intense cottage core vibes.
Lauren Sanderson is very vocal about her goal to make her shows a safe space for the queer community. Her debut album Midwest Kids Can Make It Big explores her relationships with women alongside her struggles with her own mental health. Outside of her music, Sanderson is an advocate for LGBTQ+ rights and her TEDx Talk on children who come out to their parents is a must watch. Every track that Sanderson has released is rooted in West Coast/LA influence, with a mix of synth pads and staccato style guitar playing giving off the vibes of early LANY and Blink 182.
In terms of UK R&B Arlo Parks is up there with the best right now. It won’t shock anyone who has listened to any of her work to discover that she started her lyrical journey journaling and writing poetry in order to process her experiences and emotions. Her use of jazz style vocal harmonies soaked in reverb and the rhythmic swing that the drums follow will be familiar to those who have listened to any Amy Winehouse track. Parks’ work has an aura of vulnerability and rawness that she is aware lends her music to listeners who are naturally more sensitive and emotional. Parks has been openly bisexual since the age of 17, and speaks honestly about her belief that there has and always will be a need for people in mainstream media to be openly who they are.
Olivia Klugman is an up-and-coming folk singer songwriter who names their biggest musical influences as Taylor Swift and Joni Mitchell. Klugman gives off the vibe of an explicitly queer Taylor Swift, which can be seen in their single ‘Not Forever After’ where they describe the feeling of being comfortable being seen with a woman in public and coming to terms with being openly queer. The vocal styling of Klugman is eerily similar to Joni Mitchell, and their use of vocal dynamics is truly inspired. The closeness and clearness of their vocals create a feeling of trust and warmth in the lyrics and the distance of the guitar and drums creates a feeling of coldness and vulnerability with the space filled in between with some fantastic rhythmic and melodic elements. Klugman has said publicly that they write songs for queer women in their early 20s, and I don’t think there is a queer 20ish woman who would disagree.
Julianna Zachariou’s single ‘(S)he’ is an upbeat, quirky three-minute explanation of how she found the love that her parents always hoped she would — just with a woman. The lyrics ‘mom don’t be afraid, the life you hoped I would make, I’m making it, it’s just with a she’ are so simple, and yet so powerful for any queer individual who is living a life that they know their parents never envisioned for them. Zachariou’s older tracks have a Lo-fi quality about them that make them feel distant and vulnerable, whereas her newer tracks include Clapton inspired guitar riffs and Cash influenced cord progressions that blend together to create a feeling of grandeur and warmth.
New Jersey-born, Philly-based singer and producer Orion Sun quickly became one to watch in the alternative/R&B scene with her ability to create music that has its own unique atmosphere surrounding it. Orion Sun blends her poignant and relatable lyrics with beats that compliment the lyrics so well that it is no wonder that her work is picking up traction in the industry. Listening to any Orion Sun track transports you to an R&B speakeasy, with the use of reverb and just the right amount of EQ making the drums sound live and almost untouched.