Reading gay blogs you’d think that Madonna and Lady Gaga were the only gay music on the market. But while they’re great for dancing, gays cannot live on Gaga alone.
Sometimes you long for a different musical flavor — something funky, soulful or just old-fashioned hard rock — from a guy who is actually gay.
That's why we rounded up five different gay male musicians — each in a distinct genre and each who happened to play at the 2012 South by Southwest Music Festival — to help widen your musical horizons.
While one of our picks isn't gay as in homosexual way, all five will certainly make you gay as in happy, even if it their delivery comes with a heart-rending edge — enjoy.
FROM: Santiago, Chile
SOUNDS LIKE: Hot Chip with Spanish disco flair
PLAY THIS NOW: "Como Puedes Vivir Contigo Mismo"
Considering that he was born in 1983, it's no wonder that the music of Chilean born pop singer Alex Anwandter has a distinctly 80s flair.
His dance tunes — full of synthy beats and melancholy vocals — make the perfect pre-party tunes for a night of Nu-Retro fun.
But as he has become more popular abroad, he has also become an icon for gay rights in his home country, especially with the mid-2012 video release of his second album's single "Cómo Puedes Vivir Contigo?" (How Can You Live With Yourself?), in which Anwandter and other Santiago queers and gender-fuckers werque their looks on the runway Paris is Burning ballroom style.
In an interview with Latino USA, Anwandter said, "The first song of the album… it was about someone telling me how to live my life and me not agreeing with it. But eventually I realized that it could be interpreted as a stance against discrimination from the Catholic Church, for instance, telling people who they can love or who they can marry. I'm very much for people being themselves and that being okay."
He continued, "The video it's about sexual minorities and ethnic minorities expressing themselves and just being themselves. In Chile, we are very behind that type of civil liberties, civil rights and there's an atmosphere of severe discrimination against sexual minorities. A (queer) kid was tortured and killed back in March. And I felt like Chile needed seeing queer images or diversity in mainstream media. So, that video was my personal effort to present that type of images in a positive light."
The song's lyrics say, "I have not put a costume / I have no fear of judgment / How can I not feel like a star in the light of the presence of others / being just what I am is what I understand that is real / And though they say it's bad / I feel like I'm in heaven."
In January of 2013, Anwandter performed at Viña del Mar's VINEYARD 2013: SUMMER + CULTURE festival.
Carletta Sue Kay
FROM: San Francisco, California
SOUNDS LIKE: The gentler, operatic orphan of The Violent Femmes
PLAY THIS NOW: "Pas Le Meme"
A 47-year-old man in an uncombed wig and thrift store dress might not sound like your ticket to a great performance. But then again, perhaps you haven't had the pleasure of meeting Carletta Sue Kay.
Kay is the musical persona of San Francisco resident Randy Walker. And whether she's singing about heartbreak in Paris, the futility of love songs or being ugly on the inside, Kay has a powerful voice and incisive lyrics that can lift hearts, bring laughter and then bring audiences to tears — no seriously, it's that good.
Walker actually took her performance name from his "sad but super funny," drug-addicted cousin and creates the music as if it's coming from a woman and not himself.
Walker told emusic.com, "The voice of Carletta is not my authentic singing voice. I’m affecting a 'female” voice."
She added, "If (transgender people) listen to my music and watch my performance, they’d know that I’m not taking the piss. I have an actual trans-identified person in my band [Sonny, her FTM bassist who also does piano and backup vocals]."
Considering the immense power of her voice, it's kind of unfortunate that after nearly seven years of performing Kay only just released her debut album Incongruent last year.
And it's equally unfortunate that it doesn't include her teenage-angsty tune about a "post-apocalyptic, pseudo-narcissistic stupid love song" — it's a hoot.
But her album does include the heart-slaying song "Pas Le Meme" which is a must-hear (below). And she's also working on a second album tentatively titled Monsters, which may include the aforementioned "love song" — fingers crossed.
FROM: Cincinnati, Ohio
SOUNDS LIKE: The Darkness, except sexier
PLAY THIS NOW: "Oh Lord"
Let's be clear right from the start — even though Foxy Shazam's lead singer Eric Nally radiates a definite Mick Jagger meets Freddy Mercury vibe, he is NOT gay.
However, his insane glam rock persona has such verve, swerve and pelvis in it, that we simply had to include his band in our list of gay musicians.
Because, don't forget, "gay" also means happy — and Foxy Shazam gets downright delirious in their theatric stage performances. Throughout the show, Nally charms the mic stand with his feet, knocking it down and kicking it back up with whimsy as he vamps around stage; the keyboardist Schuyler Vaughn White picks up his keyboard — an instrument taller than him — and plays it like a guitar. Later on, White hurls the keyboard and himself into the audience so he can finish his solo while the crowd passes him around.
Admittedly, Nally and the rest of the band are much more easygoing offstage — preferring food and travel to sex and drugs. But their over-the-top live shows and music videos have one aim — to get your into the Church of Rock and then give you an amazing time. Just one show and you'll be a disciple.
Below is the video for their racy and somewhat racist pean to black ladies' asses, "I Like It."
Kid Congo and The Pink Monkey Birds
FROM: La Puente, California
SOUNDS LIKE: If John Waters had played in a funked-up version of The Velvet Underground
PLAY THIS NOW: "The History of French Cuisine"
Even if you've never heard of Kid Congo and The Pink Monkey Birds, it's possible that you have heard of the other bands that Kid Congo (aka Brian Tristan) used to play in, like The Cramps and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds.
Tristan says that he came into the punk scene during the 70's era of glitter rock and found that his gayness and Mexican American identity actually helped establish his anti-authoritarian cred among Los Angeles' underground musicians.
King Congo's music with the Pink Monkey Birds has been called "juicy jugular of soul-fired, funked-up rock’n’roll" and "seedy go-go weirdness" on par with "high art," and listening to it you'll definitely agree with the "high" part.
Their lo-fi creations come with a scuzzy, intimate feel — like you're watching the band screech them out front stage in a smoky lounge — but they're intoxicating, perfect for pouring drinks or a post-bar make out session.
While we absolutely love their 2005 song "The History of French Cuisine" (above), we decided to leave you the video for their tune "Rare as the Yeti" (below) because the tripped-out visuals and body hair galore convey their loose yet naughty sound perfectly.-
FROM: Queensland, Australia
SOUNDS LIKE: The downtempo lovechild of David Bowie and Antony Hegarty
PLAY THIS NOW: "White Horse"
If you've ever seen John Cameron Mitchell's Shortbus, Cowboy Bebop: The Movie or the Ghost in the Shell anime series, then you've already heard one of Scott Matthew's minimal, melancholy gems.
The self-trained Australian musician has released an album every two years since 2005. And while his music breathes with ache and longing, they're also elegant, soulful and strangely compelling.
In an interview with Next Magazine, Matthew said, "I find it very, very easy to express emotion, and to not fear that. It’s something I’m very comfortable with, and I feel like I get power from it more than vulnerability.”
Below is one of his more upbeat songs from his 2011 album Gallantry´s Favorite Son entitled "The Wonder Of Falling In Love," but if powerful longing is your thing, give "White Horse" (above) a try.