A Queer Look at Life

Rae Spoon is not the average musician.

A native of Calgary, the transgender musician has become a household name in Canada’s burgeoning queer music scene.

With personal lyrics and fresh sounds, Spoon’s music has touched on themes of love, struggle, and death over the past 10 years.

Although Spoon’s appearance portrays a male, the singer prefers the use of the pronoun “they” instead of “he.”

“It does not make sense to me for gender to be binary, I prefer gender neutrality,” they explain.

They are performing music from their new album, called My Prairie Home, on Oct. 17 at The Old Fire Hall.

This album, released in August, also doubles as the soundtrack for their musical documentary of the same name. The filmisdirected by Chelsea McMullan and was made in collaboration with the National Film Board of Canada. Also released in August, the documentary examines Spoon’s experiences in Alberta as a transgendered artist.

“A lot of the songs are about Alberta, and are more emotional than my previous music,” the singer says.

Spoon’s voice rings clear throughout the well-balanced indie rock sound – a sound that they have been developing through time dedicated to their art.

A few years ago, Spoon spent some time in Germany, where they discovered electronic music and began to blend it into their own sound, creating synthesized songs like “Danger, Danger, Danger” and “Come on Forest Fire Burn the Disco Down.” “It’s important to try new things,” Spoon says.

Apparently so is honesty and reaching below the surface. Grappling with life as a transgendered person features prominently in Spoon’s creative projects. One year prior to releasing the film, Spoon wrote a book, called First Spring Grass Fire, which chronicles their experiences growing up in a strict Pentecostal Christian family.

“I received support from my siblings and cousins, but there was a period of time where there was no contact between me and my parents,” Spoon says.

The feeling of being ostracized and how Spoon overcame it is explored further in the film.

The promotional poster for the documentary and their new album depicts Spoon’s head mounted to a plaque in the same fashion as a wild game trophy head.

“The image is intended to show how the queer are hunted, and are endangered,” the artist says. “The music industry is very skeptical; it’s important to create moral awareness as a performer.” Creating an understanding of queer life is something Spoon does with much finesse. My Prairie Home gives viewers a visual journey into the realm of gender neutrality.

Although Spoon is visiting their ‘prairie roots’, the singer currently resides in Montreal. The metropolis is more accepting of queer lifestyles, which made it easier for them to create music without altering who they are.

“Montreal is very cosmopolitan and people don’t really seem to care about who you are or what you do. Whereas Calgary was more conservative,” the singer says.

Whitehorse, too, feels like a good fit for Spoon. They have played here numerous times before, and look forward to another trip.

They will be performing in Whitehorse at the Old Fire Hall on Oct. 17, alongside Big Mama Lele. Information about ticket sales can be found at www.YukonArtsCentre.com/Firehall.

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