London-based music artist, Andrea Di Giovanni, has been on everyone radar since their debut EP last year Permission. For Andrea’s latest release, they are bringing together the queer community with their new single Stand Up. Now, BRICKS sits down with Andrea to discuss their latest release, the importance of political pride and how labelling certain music as ‘queer’ is restrictive for many music artists.
How has self-isolation been for you so far?
It is full of ups and downs but overall it is a positive experience. For example, I’ve learned a lot about my own behavioural patterns and about how I process emotions. I also realised how important it is for me to be connected with my community.
As someone who identifies as queer, how did that affect you when you were growing up?
Throughout my childhood and teenage years, I struggled with my queerness due to the environment I grown up in. I was pressured into believing that there was something different about me because I loved dancing, singing, playing with Barbie dolls and idolised female divas like Britney, Whitney and Beyoncé. I didn’t know there was an entire queer world out there at the time because it was hidden from me, it was demonised by the Christian Catholic community I was a part of. I’ve internalised a lot of shame and was incredibly harsh with myself.
So how did you first get into music and what inspired you to do so?
My relationship with music started very early, I had my first piano lesson when I was 3 years old. I was always an introverted, shy and overly sensitive kid, writing and composing was a way to “verbalise” my inner struggles and thoughts. At the same time, it helped me to communicate with the world. Ultimately, being on a stage is like being at home for me. It’s where I feel the most powerful.
You recently released a new single Stand Up with an accompanying music video, can you tell us more about the project, what it is and how it came to be?
Stand Up is a gospel/pop anthem, its aim is to encourage love in all of its forms, no matter where it comes from. The song was co-written with my friend SXMSON, an incredibly talented artist who shares my experiences with growing up in a religious environment. Part of the streaming earnings from Stand Up is going towards The Outside Project, the UK’s first LGBTIQ+ crisis/homeless Shelter & Community Centre in London. They do incredible work in tackling queer homelessness, I believe that supporting these grassroots organisations is of vital importance right now.
Both the song and video tell a powerful story of togetherness despite the current situation we are all in. Why do you think it is important as a community we remain united even through this pandemic?
Our community is incredibly fragmented right now and with constant attacks on trans/non-binary/gender-non-conforming people, especially those of colour, we must stand up and fight this battle as one.
It seems in recent years there is more representation of queer people in music, why do you think this is?
Our world is very slowly waking up to the incredible artistry of queer people. We are constantly used on labels mood boards and we write amazing hits all the time and yet the system struggles to support us. Ultimately, I believe that music can’t and shouldn’t be defined as “queer” just because it comes from queer artists, something that happens a lot. I find it damaging and restricting. Doing so narrows our audience to a niche when our music has got a global, mainstream appeal.
Pride is a riot and a protest. It shouldn’t lose its political purpose which is queer liberation from oppression and discrimination.
What other queer music artists at the moment inspire you and why?
There’s way too many to count, those that come to mind right now are Rina Sawayama, Tayla Parx, GESS, Bronze Avery & Saro. All of them have a unique pop sound mixed with their own original influences. All combined with powerful and, in some cases, politically charged lyrics which is something I admire.
Is there anything you can tell us about any upcoming projects?
I don’t want to give away too much. There are 3 more singles coming your way before the album drops later on this year.
We are currently in a pride month different from any other before it, what do you hope people take away and learn from this month?
I hope that people really acknowledge our history, our past and the work of our Stonewall mothers Sylvia, Marsha and Stormé. Pride is a riot and a protest. It shouldn’t lose its political purpose which is queer liberation from oppression and discrimination. In the past we’ve seen somewhat of a ‘pink-washing’ of Pride celebrations. It’s often reduced to a parade of floats sponsored by multinational corporations who often couldn’t care less about equality for queer people. I hope this year the original meaning of Pride is fully reclaimed for generations to come.
Finally, what hopes do you have for the future?
I wish for equality for all, I wish for queer liberation, I wish for justice for Black people, especially Black trans lives. I know it sounds like a lot of wishful thinking but I know it’s achievable, I believe in it with every fibre of my being.
Watch the music video for Andrea’s latest single Stand Up below and follow them on Instagram.