In the year that is 2020 you'd have thought that the queer people wouldn't be having to fight to have the same rights CIS, heterosexuals take for granted. Sadly that's not the case.
As a a trans lesbian I have experienced prejudice and hate first hand on numerous occasions, even at gigs. There are some organisations who seem intent on making our lives difficult, who are hell bent on taking away the rights we've had protected in law.
One of the reasons I love music, is that it transcends this bull crap (on the whole). Yes some music and bands attract those who oppose our very existence, but these are thankfully in a small minority. Music is a safe place on the whole. A place where we can go to escape the restrictions and BS of the prejudices of everyday life.
Music is you, the artist, the song and the magic of that connection - that's what makes music special and far more than the soundtrack to our lives. It's the very family and acceptance many of us in the queer family lack elsewhere.
In my first of a special series of interviews with artists from the queer community I speak to the Fightmilk, the London based band who are on the Reckless Yes label.
Dreaminisfree: If you were describing your music to someone who hadn't heard you, how
would you describe it?
Lily: Mildly horny existential angst you can make out and dance to in equal measure.
Healey: Shouty power pop of the indie rock persuasion
Alex: Four people on the verge of old-enough-to-know-better writing catchy-ass songs about the times we weren't.
Nick: a band that are slightly too grubby to introduce to your parents.
Who were your musical heroes growing up?
Healey: I've been obsessed with Debbie Harry and Dolly Parton my whole life and they are 100% the reason I dyed my hair blonde.
Lily: A second vote for Dolly Parton - has she ever done anything that wasn't totally brilliant? - and I always wish I could write like Bruce Springsteen, Kirsty MacColl and Jonathan Richman, who could just sing their shopping lists and it would still hit me right in the sensitives.
Alex: The Beatles made me want to be in a band, because apparently I am sixty years old. But none of them made me want to mangle the shit out of a guitar like Charlotte Hatherley and Graham Coxon did. Also since Adam Schlesinger died in April, I've been rediscovering just how many song writing tricks I stole from Fountains Of Wayne.
Nick: I got into drumming around the time of the British alt rock scene/MTV2 being Quite Large, and listening to White Pony on repeat, so I think I probably still play like I'm in one of those type bands, which compliments the rest of the band's influences quite well? Possibly?
This feature for Dreaminisfree is highlighting LGBTQIA+ artists to help inspire people on our community that their sexuality or gender identity doesn't need to prevent them from being successful. As a trans female I understand all too well the lack of representation we have as a
community. Do you think that it's important to highlight these experiences and identities and if so why?
Healey: I think it's super important LGBTQIA+ people's experiences are shown and talked about especially within the arts. I grew up in the aftermath of Section 28 and it led to so many insecurities and shame around how I looked, behaved and carried myself. Accidentally stumbling upon queer media as a kid was the only way to understand my identity because I'd never learn about these experiences in school. A lot of the time the only queer people you'd see would be in a short storyline in a soap opera, which was never the best representation but it was at least something (Shout out to Sky from Neighbours and Jason from Hollyoaks). I'm so glad a younger generation has better access to LGBTIA+ media and
stories so they can see themselves represented and not feel alone. I don't think my childhood self would even be able to comprehend how many queer musicians and artists are out and open about their lives today.
Mainstream media seems intent (as well as some authors who shall not be named) as making trans people's lives as difficult as possible. Healey has any of this impacted you at all? Can you share how you've overcome any challenges you've faced due to your identity?
Healey: I think it's hard to not feel impacted by the media's constant attack on trans people, especially as we're seeing the instant effects it's having on trans rights and health care. It's so disheartening to see people using their massive platforms to punch down at minorities just trying to live their lives. A lot of people might not have (or knowingly have) trans people in their lives so I worry about those only just learning about trans identities from these awful twitter posts and articles. I'm still figuring out a lot about my own identity and it'll be a long process but being able to make music and be part of supportive communities has helped. I changed my name and pronouns a few years ago but it took quite a long time for people to come to terms with that change. I played a lot of shows that would describe my previous bands as 'female fronted' and I got misgendered and dead named in lots of music press that's now just out there in the world. I think the UK music scene has come pretty far when it comes to trans inclusion but it's still got a long way to go. Many promoters still need to review their line up choices and the language they use (especially those promoting feminist
events) and lots of venues have loads of work to do to make their spaces
Sunday 11th October was National coming out day – can you share your coming out story with us Healey?
Healey: I've been out as queer to friends and through music projects for a long time but only came out to my family in the last few years. I hate the concept of having to 'come out' and hope we'll get to a point where society doesn't just assume straight and cis is the default for
everyone. My coming out went fine though and my mum told me she was more
upset when I told her I was vegetarian.
Events in Hungary, Ukraine and Poland have seen rights for LGBTQIA+ people reversed in last eighteen months. We've also had the anti-trans rhetoric here in the UK, since the Governments GRA consultation. Its as if trans peoples identities have become weaponised by exclusionary feminists in an attempt to prevent any progress. Yet there is no empirical data to support a rise in crimes against women in countries that allow trans people to self identify or non-binary people are legal. What's your views on this?
Healey: It's horrific that we're seeing a reverse on LGBTQIA+ rights in so many countries. I think a lot of people forget how recently some of these laws were changed for LGBTQIA+ people and how easily we could see them reversed across the world with the rise of the far right. It's also easy to see that the rise in transphobia is also actively helping contribute to a rise in homophobia again. A lot of the hate speech being distributed by trans exclusionary feminists is extremely similar to the homophobic hate speech we've seen in the past and this is by no means a coincidence. It doesn't make sense to me how feminists (some of which
even identify as queer) can spend so much time oppressing a tiny population who are valuable allies in the culture war. It's now more important than ever to stand up for trans people.
Your second album is coming out in early 2021. Are we in for any surprises with the second album?
Healey: This is my first album with Fightmilk and I think there's quite a noticeable change in sound compared to the first record. This album still has lots of classic Fightmilk pop rock bangers but I think people might be surprised by the tracks that take a slower and quieter
What's your favourite track on the new album (if you can tell us)?
Healey: My favourite track on the new album is 'Sister', I remember listening to it in the studio and just feeling a massive wave of pride to have been a part of creating it. We were in the process of mixing it during lockdown and I just kept listening to it over and over again.
It's a great soundtrack to accompany the existential dread we've all been feeling.
Lily: Lucky Coin. It's the most happy, positive sounding thing we've done, even though it came out of an absolute cosmic joke of a year - the bouncy chords were a result of my listening to too much Springsteen in lockdown. Some of the lyrics are downright miz because that's all I can do, but it sounds like there's hope in there, like somehow we're gearing up to kick the bad shit out the window. I love singing it so much.
Alex: When Lily and I first started writing together, I imposed an unofficial rule that none of our songs would ever clock in over 2 minutes 45 seconds. That got ignored pretty quickly, but there's a song on the new record called "Hey Annabelle!" which belatedly honours it -
it's the the most dumb, giddy, slap-you-silly pop song we've ever recorded, and I still don't know how we got away with it. Plus Healey already said "Sister".
Nick: There's a song called "Maybe", and during the second half of it Lily and Healey have a yelling match but in a very emotive way? It's good. You'll like it.
If you had a message for any of your LGBTQIA+ fans what would it be?
Healey: Go take up space! Go start a band! Go draw that thing you want to draw! Go write the big long novel you've been putting off! Art by cis straight men is super boring and anything you make will be so much better. You've got this!
My thanks to Fightmilk and Healey for taking the time to speak to Dreaminsfree - Big love to Sarah at Reckless Yes for facilitating this interview too.
If any LGBTQIA+ artists are keen to collaborate in this series of We're Here series of interviews then please email email@example.com