Warning: This interview will have you scrolling through Spotify to discover some incredible bands if you don’t yet know them! Hailing from Birmingham, music-obsessed proud queer legend, Yvonne (she/they) share’s her love of music with us. We sat down with Yvonne to hear about how her love of music has impacted her gender expression and shaped who she is.
“Growing up in a working class suburb of Birmingham, music was such an important part of my life. It was free to listen to and made you feel great. My parents were always playing music like Santana, Queen, B.B King, The Beatles and the Rolling Stones, so I had such a good introduction into the music.
It wasn’t until I was 10yrs old that I had a penny drop moment when I heard David Bowie’s ‘Let’s Dance’ for the first time. This song really made me sit up a take notice for the first time. From then on I’d ask for albums for Christmas and birthdays or save up my pocket money and trawl through the bargain bins at the local record shop, usually coming home with a couple of 7’’ singles. ‘Madonna- Like a Virgin and Wham! Make it Big’ were my first albums, I think that I would still remember the lyrics to those albums if I heard them now.
It was around the high school years that I started getting into creating mix tapes and recording songs off the radio. I still make mix tapes (Spotify playlists) to this day for people and I have playlists for just about every occasion. You know when I think the world of you when I make a mixtape.”
Shaye: “Not mad, just disappointed that I’ve never received one. My birthday’s coming up....”
Yvonne: “hahaha, I’ll make you one for sure. When I was 14 I started getting into rock and folk stuff, Tracey Chapman Debut album, INXS- Kick and Guns N Roses Appetite for Destruction were on heavy rotation in my bedroom. A pivotal moment for me was when I was 16, my work supervisor, who went on to become one of my closest friends of over 30yrs played ‘Japanese Whispers by The Cure and Nocturne by Siouxsie and the Banshees’. Hearing these albums felt like a big portal had opened up into yet another genre of music that I had yet to discover and my love of goth and punk began. I started to try emulate Robert Smith with the heavy lipstick and eyeliner and went from bleached blonde hair to dyed black hair.
When you meet different people and form friendships they often open you up to other new music that you have never explored before. I love meeting new people and talking about bands and artists.
When I left home at 19, grunge hit the charts big time. Nirvana, L7, Green Day and Pearl Jam exploded onto the music scene, all releasing albums that became classics. It was such an exciting time, being away from home for the first time and playing Nevermind by Nirvana all of the time!”
We’ve seen your tiktok videos – you have some drumming skills! Have you ever been in a band? “No. but I’d love a crack at it’’
Well, what’s stopping you? “I can only play a little bit of the drums. Guitar and Uke (literally a handful of chords) I need to apply myself more. I lived in a house share in Melbourne years ago. One of my housemates was in a band called The Misguided Angels and she knew I’d always wanted to play the drums, so she arranged to borrow a bandmates drum kit, I’d get home after my shift and pop a track on and drum along to it.
With music, I lose my inhibitions. I’ll sing anywhere, not noticing that people are around. Sometimes the music you play can depend on your mood at the time. I usually play Reggae when I’m cooking, Indie when I want a trip down memory lane, Drum n Bass to get sh*t done. Music is so emotive; it has helped me through a lot of things. I pretty much have a songs that remind me of every significant moment, and people that I’ve met along the way in my life.
My go to albums are ‘Patti Smith’s Horses, The Cure- Boys Don’t Cry, New Order- Technique, PJ Harvey- Let England Shake and Arctic Monkeys- AM’.”
Who would be your NUMBER ONE idol?
“It’d be Patti Smith. She’s absolutely legendary. One of the first original punks. In fact she’s known as the Godmother of punk and rightly so. The 1975 album Horses was amazing on many levels, for one, the sleeve cover has been regarded as the greatest album covers of all-time. I was only 2yrs old when this album was released and didn’t discover the album until I was in my early 30’s. Imagine how liberating it must been for women seeing the album cover back in the 70’s and listening to that raw energy being belted out on the album. It was so progressive for its time.”
What would you tell your 19-year-old grungy self?
“Follow your musical dreams, and get up there on the dancefloor and dance like no one is watching”.