After watching Arcade Fire won 4 Juno Awards (Canadian’s Grammy Awards), my inner indie hipster wonders what gay male indie rockers out there that I listen to. I have to admit, I was quite surprised to learn that A LOT of my favorite bands has at least one gay member that is quite prolific in the indie music world. It’s the same realization I had when I learn that loving Broadway musical or listening to “diva” music like Celine Dion or Mariah Carey is gay. I guess I just gravitate towards these gay musicians, eh? Hmm… Anyway, here are my top 10 gay male indie rockers:
10. Joel Gibb (The Hidden Cameras)
Joel Gibb fronted this Canadian pop-folk indie band, which he described as “gay church folk music”. They are known to use crude language in their lyrics (“Two golden streams / Run down my cheeks / When buns are deprived / Of my dreams of men” ~ Golden Streams). Their last two albums have been more accessible and subtle (seems like someone’s growing up) but it doesn’t stop them from expressing their “gayness”. The music video from their latest album’s first single “In The NA” was screened at several film festivals including the 19th Annual Inside Out Film and Video Festival in Toronto.
Listen to “Boys of Melody”
9. Jamie Stewart (Xiu Xiu)
This bisexual singer-songwriter formed Xiu Xiu in 2002 after the 1998 Chinese film of the same name. I would describe their music as experimental synth pop-rock, kinda like Sufjan Stevens on acid. Their latest album Dear God, I Hate Myself use A LOT of sounds use in video games especially in Nintendo DS. Rumour has it, this hot hipster is single and painfully shy. So, Jamie, what’s the hold up? :)
Listen to: “This Too Shall Pass Away (For Freddy)”
8. Edward Droste (Grizzly Bear)
When I first saw Grizzly Bear opening for Feist in 2007 I was so blown away by their psychedelic folk-pop music that I became obsessed with their music. Little do I know, Droste chose the band name after his fuzzy ex-boyfriend. Figures. They opened for Radiohead in 2008 and their song “Two Weeks” was ranked #162 in Pitchfork Media’s Top 500 Tracks of the 2000s. What’s the cherry on the cake? Oh, Droste is engaged to interior designer Chad McPhail who is equally adorable. Jealous!
Listen to: “Two Weeks”
7. Kele Okereke (Bloc Party)
I first learn that the lead singer of Bloc Party is gay from the tightness of his pants when I saw them live. I said to my friend “He’s way too hot and his pants are way too tight for him to be straight!” I was right. After I learn that their second album title A Weekend in the City came from the death of a London bartender who was a victim of a hate crime, I love this band so much more. Bloc Party is currently on hiatus and Kele has released a solo album The Boxer in 2010 and will be featured in the song “Ready 2 Go” in Martin Solveig’s highly anticipated album Smash.
Listen to: “I Still Remember”
6. Rostam Batmanglij (Vampire Weekend)
When Batmanglij came out in an Out Magazine interview in February 2010, I was genuinely surprised. I’ve always loved Vampire Weekend but I never thought that this preppy New York band have a band member that is on our team! The song “Diplomat’s Son” features lyrics like “That night I smoked a joint / With my best friend / We found ourselves in bed / When I woke up he was gone / He was the diplomat’s son / It was ’81.”Their Grammy nomination for Best Alternative Album for Contra, their second studio album makes this band the only Grammy-nominated band on this list.
Listen to: “Oxford Comma”
5. Patrick Wolf
I first heard of Patrick Wolf from my friend who told me about Wolf’s stage antics. “He’s an exhibitionist. He really loves mooning the audience.” Well, hello. Then I listen to his song “The Magic Position” that features the lyrics like “It’s you who puts me / In the magic position, darling now / You’ve put me in the magic position / to live, to learn, to love in the major key”. On December 30, 2010 he announced that he was set to enter a civil partnership with his boyfriend William Charles Pollock and his latest album Lupercalia will be released on May 30, 2011. Congrats indeed!
Listen to: “The Magic Position”
4. Owen Pallett (Final Fantasy)
Owen Pallett co-wrote the string arrangements for all of Arcade Fire albums and has released 3 studio albums (one under his name and two under the name Final Fantasy, which was inspired by a popular RPG game). He composed the score for Richard Kelly‘s The Box with Win Butler and Régine Chassagne and was going to be the composer of John Cameron Mitchell’s Rabbit Hole, but went to Anton Sanko. His latest album Heartland was a shortlist nominee for the 2010 Polaris Music Prize. If you have the chance to see him live, GO SEE IT! It’s totally worth it!
Listen to: “Lewis Takes Off His Shirt”
3. Antony Hegarty (Antony & the Johnsons)
Oh Antony, you have the most eerie yet beautiful voice I’ve ever heard in my entire life. When I heard you belting out “For Today I’m a Boy”, my heart breaks for you. With lyrics like “One day I’ll grow up, I’ll be a beautiful woman / But for today I am a child, for today I am a boy” you can’t help but to feel her pain. Antony identifies as transgender. She has collaborated with various artists like Rufus Wainwright, Lou Reed, Bjork, Linda Thompson, Marianne Faithfull, and most recently on the song “Blind” with Hercules and Love Affair.
Listen to: “Hope There’s Someone”
2. Jay Brannan
I’ve seen Jay live in concert SIX times. I feel like I’m borderline stalking him. I’ve seen him in Vancouver, Seattle, and Paris. Yup, I actually saw him in Paris, France. Watching him singing “Housewives” in French was… priceless. I love his pitch-perfect live performance and his jaded, witty lyrics. You might’ve recognize him from the movie Shortbus or the song “Soda Shop” or most of his YouTube videos. My favorite Jay moment was when he first sang “Good Mother” in Vancouver before he recorded it in his latest album In Living Cover. Can’t wait to see what you’ll come up next!
Listen to: “Housewives”
1. Jónsi (Sigur Rós)
Sigur Rós is my favorite band of all time. I was very lucky to have discovered their music in 1997 after the release of their first album Von. For some very odd reason I never get to see them live until 2008 and O…M…G… that concert was so powerful that it made it to one of my top moments of my entire life. It was such an outer body experience. I cried, laughed, I felt it all. So when the out lead singer Jónsi released a solo album Go in 2010, I was nervous but also super excited. The album totally delivers and I saw his concert last year and yup, that queen reeeeeally know how to put on a show. It was dramatic without being overly dramatic and yet very intimate and strangely funny. Listening to Jónsi or Sigur Rós is such a personal experience because they use Vonlenska , which is a term used to describe the unintelligible lyrics sung by Jónsi. When they released a documentary Heima (means Home in Icelandic), we get to see a glimpse of their personalities and lives and because they are so humble and shy, it almost feels like we are intruding their personal space. I used to make my potential boyfriends watch the documentary to determine if they made it to the next step. I’m totally serious.
Listen to: “Hoppípolla”