Queer DIY Musicians
Words & Images © Leah Bank.
I’ve spent the past couple of months photographing and interviewing queer DIY musicians around NYC with the help of Liz vK (badass babe and interviewer extraordinaire). We talked about sexual orientation, gender identity, cats and feeling alienated from society. Mostly though, we talked about how music has the ability to make people feel more comfortable in their own skin and less alone is this big confusing binary world.
We met Keala, front man of the punk band The Nervous Breakdowns, at his small apartment in Astoria. He played DIY shows on the streets of San Francisco in the late-90s. Traditional venues wouldn’t book him because his band was “too queer.” We met through a Facebook group called Queer Exchange.
We met Uncle Meg, a genderqueer rapper, in their basement apartment in Bushwick. While they carefully crafter their personal aesthetic we discussed how to most accurately portray them in a photograph. We fell in love with their music videos on YouTube.
We met Christina, of the electrofunk band Trumpet Grrrl, outside of Silvana in Harlem before her CD release party. She quickly deposited her gear backstage before meeting us outside to shoot and interview before her set. We discovered her music on Homoground.com.
These are but a few of the people we have met and shot while exploring the queer DIY music scene. Although queerness as an identity tends to attract those who feel most alienated, it also creates a unique community of outcasts. These portraits are a small representation of a much broader community that continually rebels against the binary and refuses to define itself. Through music, these artists have found ways to express their authentic selves and connect with the world around them.
To see more of Leah’s work, please visit her website.
YPA 2016 MENTORING PROGRAM: AMERICAN LANDSCAPES
TEAM NEW YORK
MENTOR: Frank Meo
MENTEE: Leah Bank