Staff Mixtape

Proud - Queer Female Artists Shaping The Scene

Mauro di Battista
June 2023

When I made the decision to write about queer female artists who are shaping the music industry, at first I thought about names I knew well: Tegan and Sara, MUNA, St. Vincent, and others that live rent-free in my playlists. Then I realized that I couldn't limit myself to those I already knew and admired. It was crucial to explore voices I knew less about. In my research, I discovered that the influence and legacy of all the women in music who came before resonated loudly and clearly within the worlds of these emerging artists.

What's most remarkable is not just that these young musicians are very aware of these influences, but also that they skillfully blend their varied musical inspirations to craft new sounds and construct their own creative universes.

Music has always possessed immense power, not only as a means to express emotions but also as a gateway to unexplored realms and ideas. It has the ability to evoke empathy, even when the artist may initially seem like a stranger, only to discover that their words resonate deeply within us.

I have always found women's voices to be particularly captivating. When it comes to performance and songwriting, a voice and an instrument can introduce us to several experiences and sentiments. I think of Tori Amos and her piano, Joni Mitchell and her guitar, Amy Winehouse and her brutally honest lyrics, as well as the musical prowess of Lauryn Hill and Tracy Chapman. These are just a few examples of female artists who have effectively conveyed both emotional and political ideas through their music.

Follow me into these artists’ worlds, and don’t forget to turn on the music!

Zolita, when Avril Lavigne meets Darren Aronofsky

With her crystal-clear voice, blue eyes, pink hair, and Thierry Mugler outfit, one can easily picture the striking figure of Zoë Montana Hoetzel, known by her stage name Zolita. It has been a while since she achieved viral success with her self-directed video for "Explosion," which combined elements of tension, same-sex love, and religious symbolism.

Her latest song  ‘Grave’ came out a few weeks ago, but recently I have been obsessed with ‘Falling in/Falling out’ her latest EP, released in February with a self-directed video trilogy.

In this chapter, the California-based songwriter once again delves into themes of relationship endings but with a wittier and sharper approach. The music video for "20 Questions" is a vibrant display of colors, histrionic reactions, and references to ‘Black Swan’ by Aronofsky and Britney Spears’ ‘Baby One More Time’.

Surprisingly, her musical journey began with bluegrass and country, playing alongside her father (although, if you listen closely to her songs, you may catch glimpses of that influence too).

With a touch of millennial disillusionment, the edginess reminiscent of early Avril Lavigne, and the melancholic vibes found in Joni Mitchell's ‘Blue’, Zolita's music offers a compelling blend.

If you're enjoying what you're reading, you're sure to appreciate what you'll hear. I certainly did.

LonelyTwin - When Folk meets Electronic

Hailing from Sweden, Madelene Eliasson, known by her stage name LonelyTwin, is a singer, songwriter, and producer. The moniker she has chosen reflects her zodiac sign (Gemini) and the dualities that permeate her music, spanning genres such as Pop, Indie, Folk, and Trip-Hop.

She acquired the foundational skills of playing and producing music from her father, resulting in a seamless fusion of electronic and organic instruments in her compositions.

In her debut album, titled 'This End Had No Beginning,' LonelyTwin chronicles her journey from the conclusion of a relationship to the emergence of something new. The central theme of the album revolves around the breakup with her ex-partner and the subsequent fresh start she experienced.

Eliasson expressed her desire for the album to provide solace to anyone undergoing a similar experience, and I must confess that the lyrics and the sound indeed possess an embracing and comforting quality, akin to that of a close friend.

Joy Oladokun - “The Trap version of Tracy Chapman” 

Joy Oladokun, an American songwriter with Nigerian roots, constantly straddles the realms of pop, folk, and protest music. Born in 1992, her passion for music ignited after witnessing Tracy Chapman's performance on television. In 2015, she independently released her first EP and has since delivered four albums.

Her most recent body of work, titled ‘Proof of Life’ was unveiled in April. Oladokun describes this album as a collection of "helpful anthems" that resonate with anyone seeking solace in the ordinary.

The influences shaping her artistic expression and musical style (other than Champan) are Bob Marley, Lauryn Hill, and the broader Americana sphere.

"Keeping the light on ain't easy," sings Oladokun in the opening track of her latest album. However, the word that immediately came to my mind while listening to her music is "brightness."

Lauren Jauregui, from Fifth Harmony to independent music

Jauregui made her mark by auditioning for X-Factor at the age of 15 and eventually becoming a member of Fifth Harmony, one of the most successful girl groups in history. Since her breakthrough in 2012, she has embarked on a solo career, releasing two EPs and eleven singles. Beyond her musical endeavors, Jauregui has been open about her LGBTQ+ identity, using her platform to raise awareness about mental health and fundraising for the coronavirus pandemic.

As an independent artist, Jauregui prioritizes her creative freedom and taking ownership of her music, the subjects she addresses, and her overall artistry, seeing it as her personal legacy.

Her most recent EP, 'In Between,' is a deeply intimate journey and serves as the second installment of a trilogy, with a final chapter yet to come. The EP begins with a spoken word piece, a poem that opens with the line "Love me in the in between," setting the tone and intention.

In an interview with Billboard, Jauregui mentioned that there is more fluidity and movement within this EP.

At this point, all we can do is embrace the journey and see where Lauren takes us next.

Mauro di Battista
Pragmatic dreamer and lyrics passionate, connected to this world but always with my headphones on and my thoughts in space. In the eight hours per day that I'm in reality, I share, I care, and I communicate with our great community of music lovers.
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