Welcome back to the Musiq Scene! Spring has sprung, and with it comes lots of new music in the queer community. Our next featured artist, Be Steadwell, contributes to the fresh track uptick through her new album, Breakup Songs, debuting in May 2017.
A true D.C. local, Be Steadwell identifies her music as queer pop, or as she likes to put it, “some supergay combo of pop, folk and soul” (sign me up!). She’s been practicing music since the age of 14, and later went on to co-found a rap group called The Lost Bois at age 22. In this Musiq Scene, she expresses how the impact of love, joy and community have impacted her, both as an artist and as a human being.
What is your inspiration and why?
I am inspired by love mostly. The ups, downs, happy and sad of love. I’ve written songs about a lot of different things, but mostly I write about love.
Why is music important to the queer community?
We often compromise aspects of our identity for a good song. Ignore the B word, the N word, the homophobia, the sexism. I want music that affirms my identity rather than ignoring or disparaging it.
What do you hope to achieve as an artist?
My people are queer folks, women, people of color, anyone marginalized for any reason. I want my people to feel inspired to be themselves, to see themselves in the narratives I create. I believe that everyone has a right to pop music. Even folks like us who struggle. We need silly and cheesy in our lives.
Did music play an integral role in your coming out? If yes, how so?
I was never really in any place that would require “coming out.” But music certainly helped me understand the feelings I had. I remember Ani Difranco’s She Says was the first love song I heard that I recognized as queer. I was 12. I listened to the song again and again. It was the first time I felt understood by a song on that level. I am still so grateful for that song.
Given challenges facing our country and community, in your opinion, what is most needed for the queer community now? How can the music scene further that goal?
I can’t speak for any group of people, or any community. I know what I need and what the folks around me need. We need joy, health, family and financial stability. Maybe all of those needs could be fulfilled with a stronger, more altruistic community. Politicians are not known for selfless acts of kindness toward marginalized people. So if we want to survive and live full lives, we need to take care of each other. For me, taking care of my community means making music and films.
Your new album is coming out! Tell us a little about that. Where did the inspiration come from? What’s different about this album?
My new album is called Breakup Songs. And it is just that. Songs about some of the pathetic, depressing, strange, lonely and empowering moments I experienced in a recent breakup. It was a tough project to complete but it was extremely cathartic. I hope songs will ease the pain of a couple other broken hearts out there. I’ll release it in May 2017 on all online platforms and my website besteadwell.com.