Trends and Insight in association withSynapse Virtual Production
LGBTQ+ Musical Pioneers
Music & Sound
London, UK
Pitch & Sync highlights six of its favourite inspirational musical figures from the LGBTQ+ community - one for each colour on the Pride flag
For us at Pitch & Sync, we recognise the importance of diversity within the music industry. Without it, we feel that there is a major section of the population that isn’t being adequately represented. Diversity also brings together different styles of music and personal experiences that ultimately create a distinctive sound. For decades, LGBTQ+ musicians and producers have been at the forefront of the industry, refusing to be marginalised and instead, creating unique sounds and visuals that not only empower those within the LGBTQ+ communities but also captivate all audiences. Across our London, Berlin & Amsterdam studios, we are surrounded by people of all walks of life and as this weekend is London Pride, we thought what better way to commemorate this than highlighting some of our favourite LGBTQ+ musical pioneers?

Here are our top six picks:

Red - Frankie Knuckles

Known by many as the Godfather of House, Frankie Knuckles’ influence on the genre is immeasurable. Whilst house music is seemingly a staple of clubs worldwide, it wasn’t always so. With disco’s popularity dwindling, Knuckles sought to combine the more soulful aspects of the genre with breakbeats, giving it a unique and grittier edge. Performing in clubs popular amongst the gay, black and Latino communities in Chicago, Knuckles helped to create to safe haven for the marginalised. With house music remaining as popular as ever, Knuckles’ legacy remains strong.

Orange - Sylvester

Starting his career in drag, Sylvester redefined what it meant to be a black, male, soul singer. With a voice capable of hitting deep bluesy tones as well as a high falsetto, his unique voice enabled him to carve a niche within the highly saturated disco genre of the 1970s. Collaborating with fellow LGBTQ+ trailblazer, Patrick Cowley, Sylvester combined gospel and blues with hi-NRG electronica to create a unique sound. Coupled with his flamboyant fashion sense, he paved the way for subsequent black queer artists, allowing them to express themselves.

Yellow - SOPHIE

A producer previously clouded in mystery, SOPHIE is an unstoppable pop force, releasing her own acclaimed singles as well as collaborating with the likes of Charli XCX, Vince Staples and J-Pop star Kyary Pamyu Pamyu. Known for subverting expectations, SOPHIE’s playful and varied electronic style, along with her unique aesthetic allows her to position herself as a truly eclectic producer. Given that she is so well respected in her field and in high demand, SOPHIE is a prime of how we should not view gender identity as a barrier to success in music production.

Green - Mykki Blanco

Hip-hop is perceived by many to be one of the least accessible genres for those identifying as anything other than cisgender or heterosexual. However, Mykki Blanco has proven to be a clear exception to this archaic notion. Also challenging the stigma towards HIV, Blanco has effectively turned rap on its head by directly addressing the aspects of the genre that are commonly criticised. With other black LGBTQ+ hip-hop artists such as Big Freedia, Frank Ocean and Kevin Abstract achieving major mainstream success in recent years, it is clear that the genre is becoming increasingly liberated.

Blue - David Bowie

David Bowie’s influence on music as a whole is undeniable, however, his impact on LGBTQ+ musicians and fans alike is particularly of note. Known for his androgynous style, Bowie effectively redefined what it meant to be a male rock musician. He made people know that it was acceptable to wear makeup and wear flamboyant clothes and that this shouldn’t necessarily speak volumes about your gender identity. Arguably his performance of ‘Starman’ on Top of the Pops in 1972 changed the mainstream view of what a young man should be, with Bowie subverting this view through his impassioned performance and unique aesthetic.

Purple - St. Vincent

Drawing on a plethora of musical influences and instruments, St. Vincent has positioned herself as a diverse pioneer of the alternative genre. Having been compared to fellow LGBTQ+ trailblazer, David Bowie, St. Vincent similarly adopts styles that feel authentic to her, remaining ahead of the curve rather than following trends. A vocal opponent of gender expectations within the music industry, she refuses to be pigeon-holed, defining herself as fluid in terms of gender and sexuality.

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