It’s been an eventful couple of years for musicians. Festivals faded into memory, live audiences vanished, and you could forget about getting the band together for a sneaky practice sesh.
But as we collectively poke our heads out to see if 2022 is gonna be the one (this year for sure), musicians are emerging with all the ideas and tunes they stored up in hibernation. There’s a great chance we’ll actually get out to see some gigs this year — and if you’re anything like me, the craving for that sweet, sweet art is getting slightly out of hand. (Please. It’s been so long.)
Here are some of our favourite trans, non-binary, and gender-non-conforming Australian artists across all genres. Who knows? You might even see them at a show soon. In person. Wild times, indeed!
Alter Boy is a Perth “queerlectro pop” band with members that span the trans and Deaf communities. Their sound is quite ethereal — all their songs feature pitch shifting that reflects what they call their "gender-bending nature".
Best of all, Alter Boy work Auslan signs into their videos and live performances, turning it into a dance that flows with their music.
Mo’Ju’s Filipino-Wiradjuri heritage plays a big part in their music, which frequently discusses identity. You won’t ever hear the exact same thing from Mo’Ju — they’re constantly mixing their style up out of a desire to never record the same record twice.
In their latest mini-album, O.K., Mo’Ju explores their mental headscape coming out of lockdown with a bunch of tracks that blend upbeat electronics with jazzy guitar.
Non-binary musician G-Flip is one of the better-known artists on this list, exploding on Triple J Unearthed before releasing their debut album, About Us in 2019.
In addition to being a massive overachiever who plays guitar, keys and drums — and oh, they sing, too — G Flip keeps dropping indie-pop songs with heartfelt lyrics and big feels. They’ve promised even more experimental stuff in the future, so keep an ear out.
If you’re looking for something off the beaten track, you can’t do much better than the work of trans woman Shoeb Ahmad, who’s been writing and improvising in the Canberra underground scene for years.
Her tracks are a journey through rich musical landscapes: indie and pop guitar lines punctuated by ghostly feedback and distant bells. Make sure to grab a pair of speakers or headphones to fully experience Shoeb’s audioscapes.
Imbi is both a poet and a rapper, and it shows in their smooth spoken-word tracks. As someone that's obsessed with stories, I always love artists who bring them to life through flowing lyrics.
imbi’s latest release is the 2021 track Heatsink — a collaboration with hyperactive drums and imbi’s soulful vocals — recorded with Australian dance/rap duo Slim Set.
“The only thing it’s not, is straight,” according to punk band Zig Zag’s self-description on Instagram, and they aren’t wrong. Zig Zag’s rocking tunes explore the trials and tribulations of growing up as a queer person, backing the lyrics up with compelling basslines and infectious energy.
For people who value that strange brew of trauma tempered by optimism that is so often a part of the queer experience, Zig Zag will have you bopping along.
A musician that needs no introduction, Tash Sultana is a non-binary Australian superstar who’s blown the world away with their insane vocal range and equally wide range of styles.
If you haven’t heard Tash’s superbly layered creations yet, you’ll be doing yourself a favour by giving them a listen.
Melbourne band RVG is fronted by trans woman Romy Vager, who put the group together back in 2017 and released the excellent full-length album Feral in 2020.
RVG pairs lyrics with a kind of forlorn, existential vibe together with bright and upbeat rock melodies. “Perfect Day” is a great example of the in-your-face but still somehow laid back stories that Romy provides.
A Sydney-based rapper of Maori and Samoan heritage, Jamaica is one of the most confident rappers you’ll see.
Jamaica’s songs embrace the Bad Bitch aesthetic to the fullest — exploring real-life experiences and judgements without a single regard for what other people might think, and with style and personality oozing out of every pore.
flowerkid may be young, but he has an eloquence to his stories. If you’re after relaxed but deeply reflective music that will make your heart feel full, flowerkid has you covered. I recommend darkening the lights and pulling up a blanket before getting stuck in.
Wrapping up with the dancier side of things, we have Simona Castricum, a trans electronic artist who’s also an architecture academic. Her academic work explores queer intersections in architecture and public spaces, which is awesome. Load up one of Simona’s tracks and get lost in the spacey electronic (occasionally somewhat disco) beats.