Queer artists at Boston Calling reflect on the intersection between goals and identities

Co-Managing News Editor

Co-Managing News Editor

Over Memorial Day weekend, Boston Calling Music Festival featured various LGBTQ+ performers, many of whom have drawn inspiration for their songwriting and overall goals as influential figures from their identities and personal experiences.

Apart from the similar areas of influence, these artists shared missions of empowerment and experiences of how they have allowed themselves to “take up space” in the music industry, as they have found that their identity is inseparable from the art they create.

“You write what you know,” lead vocalist of Razor Braids, Hollye Bynum, said. “You write who you are. This is just who we are. Our identity is what informs our music. It’s such a big part of what we do.”

Razor Braids is an indie alternative rock band from Brooklyn, New York, consisting of four queer, non-binary and female artists. They took to the Boston Calling main stage clad in their signature all-red outfits on Friday afternoon as one of the very first bands to play at the festival.

Bynum expressed that she initially brought the four members together to make music because she was driven by anger. Overwhelmed by the male-dominated music industry, the young singer explained she was looking for a safe space for self-expression where she would not have to “apologize for existing.”

Now, the four aim to expand their sphere of influence. After creating a safe space for their own development, they hope that their music and intertwined values can foster an environment for queer and non-binary youth to connect and feel seen.

Indigo Ansin, who goes by the stage name chrysalis, has similar dreams to Bynum. Playing at multiple shows and festivals across the country, they work to raise money for their top surgery – a type of gender-affirming surgery performed on the chest.

Using their genuine message and vulnerable lyrics, Ansin aspires to be the proud queer and racial representation that they never received growing up.

“As someone who grew up being perceived as a woman, it’s really hard to let yourself take up space and be like, ‘No, hold on. Don’t interrupt me. Hold on. I wasn’t done,’” Ansin said. “It’s so important for artists, and just people in general, to let themselves take up space to be like, ‘I have a voice and my art is important and it has a place here.’”

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According to Ansin, the professional title of chrysalis is rooted in the feeling of being “in-between,” the way a caterpillar is during its period of transition to a butterfly. 

To demonstrate this, Ansin described their journey of learning to be okay with not being constantly perfect, stating that they would like others to find a similar comfort in times of change and imperfection.

Like members of Razor Braids, Ansin’s songwriting is steered and shaped by the marginalized aspects of their personhood.

“I’m always writing about and talking about the things that I’m thinking,” Ansin said. “So, inherently, my queerness, my transness and my Latin American identity are at the forefront because it is in my heart as I am as a person.”

Filmmaker and musician, Zolita performed her hits, including her most popular song, “Somebody I F—– Once,” on Friday afternoon at Boston Calling. As a self-proclaimed “woman who loves women,” she finds her sexuality is a heavily-intertwined thread throughout every song and video she creates. 

Primarily inspired by the activism of Lady Gaga, Zolita believes that being able to reach as many fans as possible can spread powerful ideas and otherwise-diminished perspectives. Similarly, Bynum and Ansin draw inspiration from other well-known queer artists, including boygenius and Leith Ross, commenting on their nature of using their platforms and songwriting for activism.

These Boston Calling performers, as well as the musical figures they are influenced by, seem to share a similar overarching goal regarding the impact of their work: to connect with and support the underrepresented individuals of their audience.

“I want people to feel comfortable being who they are,” Zolita said. “I want them to feel comfortable in their identity and feel seen, especially in a time when our country is denying everybody’s identities left and right and telling them they shouldn’t have basic human rights.”

Originally posted 2023-06-22 15:00:00.