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Interview: Husk – Celebrating International Trans day of visibility

It’s international trans day of visibility on 31st March, where we celebrate trans people doing amazing things. Jo caught up with Husk to find out some insights about being a trans musician in Manchester today.

In case you haven’t heard, Husk has been dubbed as ‘the outsider pop star we’ve all been waiting for’ and ‘pretty darn good’ by BBC 6Music, the lovechild of 80’s synth nostalgia and fresh left-field pop. A hairbrush diva at heart, from the outskirts of Manchester, Husk grew up on a diet of melody centred Pop, with the likes of Madonna and Girls Aloud and is not shy to tell you he’s an avid Eurovision fan. 

What makes you unique as an artist?

My unique voice – I always get comments about my voice being so distinctive, and of course, it will be! It’s a fairly new instrument. A Stretching of the vocal cords that only a transboy taking testosterone who fashioned their voice listening to soul, Prince and the Irish one from Girls Aloud could have! I love the uniqueness of my voice that I simply would not have it If I wasn’t trans. 

How much of an influence does being trans have on your music?

It gives me a different outlook, naturally, and my experience of queer parties shows and with drag acts being in most green rooms I’m in, means the music I’m around is different than your average indie-pop band. Lots of energy, melodies and something you can dance to, I think that shows in the music I make.

I would never change being trans. It’s exactly who I’m supposed to be. If I was born as a cisman, that would be just as wrong as being assigned female at birth. The people I meet through my community have lead to some of my favourite memories – debuting ‘Feeling Heat’ at Manchester International Festival with a Queer Revue and feeling the love fill the room, arriving to play Pride in Hull and seeing the crowd go on for miles, and being included in Tom Robinson’s Stonewall 50 show on 6Music.

Are you influenced by other queer artists?

I’ve always been attracted the Synthpop. It’s always been queer. Look at Bronski Beat, Erasure and even the likes of Grace Jones. There are androgyny and rule-breaking. It also naturally has a sadness to it but you can still dance your ass off to it, and that kind of catharsis really strikes with me. You can feel that when I perform my track Brother Kin live. Everyone feels it too! 

What other trans artists do should we be checking out right now?

There’s so much diversity in music from trans people of all shapes, sizes, colour and identities. Look at St. Lucifer making ‘gay metal disco’, Harvey making waves as a black rapper in the midlands, The Spook School with their fun indie-pop. Then all the way to the top with Ahnoni and Big Freedia, and even Jordan Grey reaching the core of popular culture on The Voice a few years back. Not forgetting myself. I’m so proud to have been featured on Pride Month specials by Tom Robinson on BBC 6Music, to have played Manchester International Festival in 2019 and to be invited back to Pride in Hull this year. We’re making more noise than ever, and we’re getting louder! 

What’s the most positive aspect of being a trans artist?

You’ve already broken the rules, you’re free! – Being openly trans in society is a great way to weed out people you don’t want in your life and find out what makes you comfortable or uncomfortable. You tend to grow up and live as authentically as possible. You have broken the rules, so you can write whatever music you want to! Artists like Laurie are bringing their experience to their music in a really raw and captivating way. For me, ‘Could You Forgive Me’ was a self-indulgent release. It’s a sexy track, slow and sensual, not my typical ‘banger’ like my most successful track ‘You Got It’. It was supported by Michelle and Natalie-Eve at BBC Introducing in Manchester, and that was a really nice bit of validation. 

What is support like from other members of the trans community?

You have a family like no other – Allies and other queer people are there for you. They want to see you do well, and we all support each other. Especially in a world where trans people are vilified for simply existing, supporting trans artists has never been more important. With that said, my new single ‘Below The Neck’ has been supported by Superbia of Manchester Pride. My community rallied and now I have the opportunity to release a Years & Years vs Everything Everything with Siouxsie vibes track that’s fun and high energy, that would never have seen the light of day. 

Can the music industry do more to support trans Artists?

Book us! Play us! Talk about us! The media is full of trans sensationalism, instead, a bit of good news about the awesome things we do is very much welcome!

Follow HUSK @husknoise