In case you haven’t noticed, music is experiencing a queer revolution. Not that it hasn’t been for years. But lately, decades of groundwork laid by balls out queer artists has seemingly opened the floodgates for a new generation of unapologetically out – and downright talented – queer musicians. And if I were to write about our queer music revolutionaries of the past, present and future, that would itself be an entire book. (Hmmm…) But that’s not what I’m doing today. Today I focus on one brave and folksy transguy: Eli Conley.
I met Eli a few years ago by way of his fellow folk hero, StormMiguel Florez. And you, OP readers, may have been introduced to Eli about this time last year when I sat down and interviewed both him and Storm for an OP blog. In a couple short months, Eli heads into the studio to record his first solo album. It’ll be recorded at Empty Sea Studios, produced by Michael Connolly (Coyote Grace), and feature some of my personal favorites, “Siren Song” (about a siren who longs to be a rock star) and “When God Sets His Sights on You” (about a Southern queer kid who finds compassion for her parents). Every time I hear Eli play these tunes live, I’m struck by not only his musicianship, but the power of his narrative. [Read full post...]
I sat down with two of the Bay Area’s most talented and prolific trans folk music heroes, Eli Conley and StormMiguel Florez. See Eli live at El Rio (San Francisco) on April 26, and StormMiguel on April 29 at Second Story Arts Collective (Sacramento)!
So, how would you guys describe your music to our readers in 3 words?
Eli Conley: Soulful, melodic Americana.
StormMiguel Florez: Acoustic, Moody, Twangy.
Beautiful! And what inspires you to be artists?
EC: I’m inspired by my friend, feminist singer-songwriter Talia Cooper, who says that artists aren’t “special”, we all have the capacity to be deeply creative. Artists are just folks who choose to prioritize and follow creativity. When I think of it that way, I pay attention in my day to day life, recognizing that songwriting inspiration can strike anytime. The trick is to allow myself to drop into what I’m doing and follow that path to see where it takes me, something I’ve done a lot more of since allowing myself to claim the title “artist.”
SMF: For me, it’s the one consistent thing I’ve loved to do my whole life. When I was in fourth grade, I had a friend who was a bit of a bully and one day when I was singing she told me to stop because I was tone deaf. I could’ve clammed up, but I joined the school chorus instead. I figured if I was tone deaf, I’d better learn to sing right. For me, singing is meditation. It’s cathartic, and the best way I know to express myself.
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