Transgender and Non-Binary Artists You Should Be Listening To
On the occasion of International Transgender Day of Visibility, we highlighted a few of our favorite artists working across electronic music, experimental, club, pop and more.
March 31 is International Transgender Day of Visibility. To celebrate, our team compiled a list of transgender and non-binary artists. While this is by no means an exhaustive list, we wanted to take the opportunity to put the spotlight on as many people as possible, highlighting what they are currently up to and their indispensable contributions to the world of music.
This year, Venezuela-born, Barcelona-based experimental producer and DJ Arca made Grammy history. Her fourth studio album, Kick i, which turns pop and reggaeton structures on their heads and features collaborations with Björk, Shygirl, and Sophie, was nominated for Best Dance/Electronic album, making her the first non-binary person to ever be listed in the category.
Terre Thaemlitz, also known as DJ Sprinkles, is a DJ, producer, and the founder of Comatonse Recordings. The Minnesota-born artist, who is also a prolific and outspoken educator on gender topics, is primarily known for crucial contributions to deep house and a cerebral style informed by themes of sexuality and race.
Following For Lovers and Resonant Body, which explored magic and connection, the New Hampshire-based house producer and DJ (who we also covered in this feature) has just dropped She’s Calling, the new EP released through her label T4TLUVNRG, which she co-founded with Eris Drew.
Chicago underground legend Eris Drew has always believed in the therapeutic powers of music (a topic which she spoke about at length in this interview). She just wrapped the final episode of her @bbcradio1 Residency, and she’s currently running the label T4T LUV NRG with Octo Octa out of their New Hampshire cabin.
Honey Dijon / Photo by Robert Rieger
The world-renowned American DJ and producer describes herself as a “working creative” inspired by artists of the late ‘70s and early ‘80s in New York, but Dijon is also an influential voice for transgender rights and the Black Lives Matter movement. “I think one of the most important things that the trans movement is [able to] create is breaking down binaries and sexual expression for everybody,” she said in a recent episode of the Electronic Beats podcast.
In between working on her debut album and getting ready for 2022 plans, the Munich DJ and singer recently shared with Electronic Beats that she has been involved with a short film about the relationship between the Catholic church and queerness set to be released in July 2021, in time for Munich’s Gay Pride. Check out the mix she did for the Blitz x Radio80000 Takeover.
The American rapper and performance artist has been carving their unique sound, shaped by their electro, indie, and hip hop influences, for the past 10 years. This month, they revealed their new single “Free Ride,” a playful anthem produced by FaltyDL and TNGHT member Hudson Mowhawke (who has also produced for Kanye West, A$AP Rocky, and Drake). Check it out here.
Baby Blue has become a dancefloor favorite with her riotous sets consisting of hard and pulsating yet melodic techno, which caught the attention of electronic music cult figures Juliana Huxtable and Lauren Auder. Her album Death of Euphoria, released on Ascetic House in 2019, comes highly recommended, and she has also most recently collaborated with techno and ambient legend John Beltran.
LA-based German artist Kim Petras is known for her euphoric electro-pop tunes and collaborations with artists like SOPHIE and Charli XCX. After the release of her single “Party Till I Die,” she announced the release of Turn Off the Light, Vol. 3 in 2021.
Cassata is an award-winning singer-songwriter, actor, performer, LGBTQ+ activist, and the first openly trans performer at the Vans Warped Tour. He recently released the track “I Met Jesus at the Gay Pride Parade” in response to the US Capitol riot. “These people claim to be Christians, but they’re not actually practicing what Jesus Christ practiced, which was inclusion and welcoming everyone at the table,” he told podcast Talk Out Loud.
Choy grew up between cultures, between genders, and between places. Blending words with music (and sometimes drawings), they own their distinct bedroom-folk sound to their fascination with nature and its ability to offer peace and perspective.
DJ, organizer, visual artist, and producer CCL has lived in the US, Bristol, and Rome, cities which have each influenced and set the tone for their style and sound. Having built a fondness for fluidity and liminality, the artist has woven distinct narratives into open rhythmic wormholes that occupy space between all genres and tempos, creating a sound all their own.
Juliana Huxtable / Photo by Guerilla Davis
Juliana Huxtable lives in her own multimedia universe. Singular in her approach, the artist and DJ and musician is not only recognized for her visual art and poetry but also for her dynamic approach to music that oscillates fluidly between genres and all-out experimentation. Listen to one of our favorite mixes from Huxtable here.
Comprised of Avery Tucker—who identifies as a transgender man—and Harmony Tividad, Girlpool’s 2020 single “Like I’m Winning It” is a ‘90s-tinged lo-fi pop dream built on heartfelt beats and beautiful multi-part harmonies—and that just got the remix treatment from Dev Hynes, Porches, and Lydia Ainsworth. The Los Angeles-based group are also currently at work on a new record.
Frances is an artist to watch this 2021. Featured in lists by Rolling Stone, SPIN, and Amazon Music, the Massachusetts-based indie-pop singer just released the colorful video for their viral track “Space Girl,” which you can watch here.
Exploring themes of gender and identity through shifting textures and deeply emotive club experiments, Berlin-based electronic musician Lotic is an absolutely essential voice in the left field club scene. Her latest release with London label Houndstooth, “Cocky,” is a celebration of girls and their growth, prosperity, and confidence. She says, “It’s a reminder to always recognize and demand your worth.”
Rui Ho / Photo by Dre Romero
Rui Ho’s last two EPs on Planet Mu’s sub-label Objects Limited are built around her personal experiences as a trans woman (“Becoming Is An Eventful Situation”) as well as her interest in Chinese folklore (“In Pursuit of the Sun 逐日”). After stints in Paris and Berlin, she recently relocated to Shanghai to reconnect with her Chinese roots and bring her eclectic sound back home. She recently released her debut album, Lov3 & Light, which bridges the gap between pop and R&B and club styles while highlighting her own vocals.
Nigeria-born Tunde Olaniran is a musician and activist currently based in Flint, Michigan. Together with Juliana Huxtable, artist Wu Tsang, and percussionist Susie Ibarra, the Yo-Yo Ma-endorsed artist was named one of the 2019 United States Artists fellows.
Named by NME as one of the 100 Essential Emerging Artists of 2021, Brooklyn-based artist Claud marks their first release on Saddest Factory Records with the debut full-length Super Monster. Mixing their love for ‘90s alt-rock and pop hits from the 2000s, the album features guest appearances by Melanie Faye, Nick Hakim, and Shelly.
rkss (AKA Robin Buckley) is a lecturer and artist whose experimental productions take a critical approach to music, using sound as a series of gestures to explore complex socio-political issues. As a theorist, Buckley has lectured on their ideas about the political and social contexts of music at the Tate, Goldsmiths College, University of London, and as part of the New Contemporaries at the South London Gallery.
Star Amerasu (AKA Ah-Mer-Ah-Su) is an electronic pop artist and composer who has been active in theater, music, and dance for the past ten years. Aside from that, the LA-based artist tells Electronic Beats: “I also think I am a very good friend and a very adept music artist outside of being highlighted around my transition and my proximity to LGBT and queer culture.”
Non-binary producer and visual artist Alyxis will be releasing their debut EP RUSH on April 16. The three-track EP was written and produced by the Dublin-based artist, with additional production and mixing on “MINE” and “RUSH” by Valgeir Sigurðsson.
The Bronx-born, Brooklyn-based artist dishes out deep, dark music that blends hard techno beats with dense hypnotic ambiance—a mix that made her debut album BXTCH SLÄP one of our favorites last year. In a 2020 interview with i-D, she described the release as “building on that myth of being The Queen of Hell and how as a Black trans woman, often just existing in this world feels hellish.”
Go Grrrls are a queer collective from Bangkok, Thailand of DJs, vogue dancers, and drag queens brought together by friendship and love for music. At their parties, they aim to create a fun and safe space for LGBTQI+ and beyond, emphasizing that all genders are welcome at their parties and saying, “Go Grrrls stand for freedom, diversity, and equality.”
American electronic musician, producer, poet, and composer Elysia Crampton weaves her indigenous Aymara heritage as well as Latinx and LGBTQ+ themes into genres like cumbia, metal, and Central and South American dance styles. In 2020, she released her fifth studio album, ORCORARA 2010, a sprawling work featuring collaborations with Embaci, Jeremy Rojas and Shannon Funchess, which was dedicated to Paul Sousa, who spent years fighting wildfires in Sierra Nevada. In 2019, she also began releasing more acoustic instrument-driven compositions under the name Chuquimamani-Condori.
In Love With A Ghost
Non-binary Paris-based musician In Love With A Ghost is currently working on an album called The Ship of Theseus, which the artist reveals is around 80% done (as of press time). The lo-fi producer also has a breakcore EP on the way, and is expected for release this year.
While Ariel Zetina may be known for dishing out banging techno (like in this mix for Electronic Beats), her influences are diverse. Chicago house, Belizean punta, and the queer club scene worldwide all inspired her 2020 MUAs at the End of the World EP (released under Femme Culture) and “Marsh” (which was self-released). Outside of music, Zetina is also a playwright, and her plays have been performed in Chicago, California, New York, and Baltimore.
Ohio native adab’s music offers new perspectives and dialogues for both themself and others. Their work is very influenced by his strong ties to the Cleveland queer techno scene—they’ve collaborated with party In Training and was one-half of Heaven Is In You—and they are currently busy working on their NTS Show alongside a few mixes slated for the next few months of 2021.
Scottish musician, DJ, and producer SOPHIE’s influence on the worlds of pop, experimental, and electronic music could not be overstated. She laid the foundations for the PC Music sound (now often tagged as “hyperpop”) and worked with everyone from underground stars like Charli XCX and Kim Petras to Madonna, carving out a lane that was and continues to be entirely her own. She will be missed.
Published March 30, 2021. Words by Liz Bautista.