equality factor: equality ambassador for queer visibility in music
our favorite song: "Enraged"
based in: Berlin, Germany
In August, we had the wonderful opportunity to interview Anny (they/them), the 29-year-old shouter of Berlin-based crossover band NOISE FOR THE VOICELLESS (and THE PRIM). The non-binary artist has been captivating audiences with their powerful voice for over 12 years. In an insightful interview, they shared their views on equality in music, queer visibility, and the band's powerful vision and mission.
What does music mean to you?
Especially for me, music means to use art as a rebellious form for expression in an audible way. And yes this may sound very overblown, but music also saved my life multiple times.
So, I guess for each of us who is interested in music, it’s obvious that we connect specific records to special terms in our life – and to be honest, I think that is wonderful.
If you can listen to someone who is able to transport their story into melodies that catch you in a way – you may feel understood, you may feel empowered and you may feel that you are not alone. So as you can read – music means everything to me.
What inspires you?
Most of my life is inspired by queer creators, feminist lecture, transgender role models, B(I)PocC artists, and the LGBTQIAPD+ scene. But of course, I hadn't had access to that influence back in the days, and I'm happy the internet makes that more transparent now. I love diversity and we all should consume more diverse content in general.
"You listen right babies – change your damn Instagram feed from unreal fashion influencers to some soul food."
How did you come up with the band name?
NOISE FOR THE VOICELESS is a solidary statement for all of those whose voices aren’t heard. With our songs, we want to name miseries and provide a battlecry for everyone who is enraged about rascism, sexism and discrimination. We have a voice, some of us also the privilege to be seen and heard, so let’s use it for a movement.
How has your experience been in the music industry within a mixed band as a queer musician?
It depends on your social environment, I guess. In alternative collectives, people are very interested in diversity and equality in every possible form, and I enjoy that a lot.
But I have the constant feeling that in today's pop and electro scene, your gender is not that much of a big deal anymore (which is good). Express yourself and do Art – that’s what matters. More interesting are those genres dominated by cis-male artists like the hip-hop and metal scene. Even though there are strong queer and feminine performers – there is still a lack of feminism.
"To be feminine does not mean we are weak or can’t do the same stuff you and your dudes are doing. We can – obviously (and most of us also while we are bleeding)."
So that’s also my experience: if I go raving – no one shows up questioning my identity. If I play a hardcore show there is always that one person coming up afterward and petting me like “Wow. Pretty impressive for a woman.”
If you guys are reading this – stop it. First of all, you don’t know shit about mine or other identities within my band, stop putting us in your most fitting drawer. Secondly, to be feminine does not mean we are weak or can’t do the same stuff you and your dudes are doing. We can – obviously (and most of us also while we are bleeding). And third, hun, if you wanna hook up – ask me and I have the opportunity to answer but don’t come along with a shallow sexist compliment. It’s just an awfully awkward situation for all of us.
What are your favorite lyrics, and why?
“People will change, they always do.” That’s from a Drum and Bass Song and it also can mean in every situation something different. That’s amazing about simple sentence structure when you are writing lyrics – to be able to create more than one effect – leaving gaps that can be filled by the listener itself.
People will change, they always do: can mean that you are able to outgrow old oppressive emotions, work on your inner balance, and also learn to be an independent self-loving human being. Of course, it can also mean that someone you knew for good is outgrowing you or going a different path you are not comfortable to walk with. What we have to admit in both situations is – that change is necessary and not comfortable at all. We have to question ourselves multiple times in our life – do we want to treat us below our value and give others the opportunity to treat us like that? Or do you want to change?
What kind of vision do you have for your work?
My vision of my work as an artist is that I want to give unheard and unseen topics and people a voice. I want people to recognize there is a lot of shit going on and you have to be confronted with that for changing your mindset. Because a white thin straight man won’t be able, just by himself, to experience sexism, homophobia, fatphobia, ableism and transphobia. It’s part of my work to educate and influence them in a more aware way of discrimination and how it looks and feels like.
"Artists need more bravery speaking up against slutshaming and victim-blaming. We are emotional human beings and our interactions are social and emotional."
Does equality - or a lack thereof - influence your daily experience as an artist?
As an artist, people seem like they can't admit that I don’t feel like a womxn because my appearance looks feminine at the moment. If I tell them by myself that I’m non-binary – all I get is an eye roll. They are not interested anymore in how I feel about living in a binary society.
And because people see me automatically as a womxn, they assume I fail as soon as I hit the stage. It’s always a double pressure then as an artist, with your own demand on perfection and you have to give 100% more to be accepted as a shouter.
In your opinion, do artists have a special responsibility to fight for equality and fairness in the industry and beyond?
Absolutely. They have a voice, and they should use it for influence. Also, artists need more bravery speaking up against slut-shaming and victim-blaming. We are emotional human beings and our interactions are social and emotional. Don’t try to create an “everything is fine” feed if you are secretly suffering. It’s time that people show other people how they feel about certain things like abortions, voting, or another important impact. The Youth is getting their knowledge not out of books anymore – they inform themselves about social media. Use the platform you have.
Why is female/non-binary/LGBTQ+ representation relevant in the music industry?
Our society gets more and more diverse in visible ways (because queer people in all forms always existed before), and the content we all consume should be too. That’s important in an informing way and also to empower individuals for experiencing their own identity or speaking up for themselves. It’s also important that you know – as you are growing and developing, your identity and also sexual orientation can shift and change. That’s nothing somebody has to be afraid of – it’s good to recognize who you are and how you feel. To empower people, you need role models and the music industry needs more queer representatives.
"We all make mistakes from time to time – that’s fine because we are humans. Express yourself and never stop creating. Give this world more diversity – we need it."
Have you always been treated well/equally within the scene?
When we played shows I had the most fun and comfortable feeling by a queer collective.
It was just a different energy. Also not only men are judging you by your appearance – women do too. One time we played a show in East Germany and a friend of one of my bandmates showed up. After the show, she told him that she enjoyed the music but my look was shit. First, he told me that – not she. So, I don’t want to know how many people are judging my appearance. Secondly, it was a black wide shirt with loose black pants – I mean it doesn’t matter because I felt comfortable enough to perform in this outfit and it doesn’t influence my qualities as a shouter at all. To this day, I don’t get over the fact that I owe someone a certain look so they can enjoy my show. I'm not a brand or a product you pay for. I'm an artist.
What is it like for you to work with womxn and LGBTQ+ artists?
I always felt a bit more comfortable with open-minded people. I didn’t know the identity of all of them because we talked about other stuff. I enjoyed playing with xMolex from Berlin because they have lovely diverse personalities and I also like their music of course. We also played some shows with Liferuiner from Switzerland and my heart was full of joy to see those two young girls performing like there is hell right behind their backs. In fact, I always appreciate to meet more queer artists and see their art. It’s a different vibe and respect in the venue for each other.
What advice would you give to aspiring artists?
On my first show as a shouter (that’s 10 years ago), a guy showed up afterward and told me I sound like shit and I should leave this stuff for the adults. I was very hurt about that opinion and I almost quit shouting. The thing is you should stop to please everyone because it’s not possible and you will lose yourself and your self-esteem. (Those people basically don't care about you, or are jealous that you are just doing the stuff you want to do in your life.)
"Being a feminist means to outgrow yourself and others."
That’s hard because you will have tough conversations with your inner self and others, maybe also loved ones to show them that their way of thinking and behaving is wrong. It’s important to tell them and to also give them a chance to grow – but that’s a decision by everyone on their own. Be brave – no one will come and give you the chance and respect you waited for. Do it yourself. If you fail - do it again. We all make mistakes from time to time – that’s fine because we are humans. Express yourself and never stop creating. Give this world more diversity – we need it.