Free EP ’50 Shades of Gay’ by Junksista to celebrate the international day against homophobia and transphobia – interview

(This interview is a collaboration between Alfa Matrix – Side Line Music Magazine & Inferno Sound Diaries)

Officially out tomorrow, but already available now for free is the 4-track “50 Shades of Gay” download EP by Junksista. The EP is being released via Bandcamp to celebrate the international day against homophobia and transphobia. We interviewed a long range of artists involved on this free EP.

For the EP they collaborated with Valkyrie Beestings (The Priscillas,Lene Lovich Band), who you might remember from the Junksista track “Likeyourshoes”. And that’s not all,  2 other legendary figures from the electronic scene also joined the cause: Claus Larsen of Leaether Strip and Claus Kruse of Gaytron/Plastic Noise Experience. Both gay musicians delivered their very own, dancefloor-compatible versions of „50 Shades Of Gay“.

Also included is a collaboration with the American dancer Gezelle Za Belle (see picture above) who is featured in a smashing (probably NSFW) video for the track which you can view below.

And here is the video!

We decided to also interview the involved artists in this great collaboration project: Junksista, Claus Larsen, Seba Dolimont, Claus Kruse, and more!

Starting with the instigators of the project, Boog & Diana S. of Junksista

SL: Does the 17th of may (international day against homophobia and transphobia) mean something special to you Boog at all?

B. The international awareness day should solely be used for reminding everyone of us that we should stay aware every day of those issues where someone is being bullied because of the way he/she (or both) chooses to live!

To me, this day is specifically there for the not so tolerant kind of straight people – sometimes we forget that. Gays usually celebrate it, they are out on the streets to demonstrate. But they obviously ARE aware of the issues. The ones that live their lives, not realizing that others struggle simply because of the way they were born… or the ones finding it normal and right that some people have less rights than they do – this day exists for them. For me the 17th of May is especially important this year, because we as a band decided to do something to reach out to these people who lack awareness. Obviously “50 shades of gay” is also aimed at everyone who likes to party and/or celebrate their queerness!… As long as the issue gets noticed!

SL: Junksista always enjoyed confronting & even provoking… Does it make you an engaged artist too?

B. Does being in a band with Diana not kind of automatically make me an engaged artist?

D. I guess I am engaged simply because I don’t hide that I am gay. Just being there and being ok with myself is more than some people have. We shouldn’t hide!

SL: How much have mentalities changed / evolved on the music scene around homosexuality since your early years and today? Did you notice changes at all?

B. There used to be a lot more prejudice in the early years but I think the reason for that could be that homosexuality was positioned outside the “normal“ community and was a topic not to talk about. Today I think there’s a lot more open communities and people in general accept different lifestyles / orientations. With a lot of artists who are living openly gay now it’s getting easier to make that fact clear for those who still want to think that their way of living is the only valid way, but it’s still a long way to go.

D. Clearly things have changed and when it comes to music. We should thank the artists who are openly gay and the artists who support the queer community – Madonna, Ellen Degeneres, Lady Gaga… to name a few! I think, every time someone like George Michael or Kristen Stewart comes out, things change. Every time an artist like Beth Ditto reaches the mainstream, it’s a step forward. I guess it’s harder to hate or discriminate a group of people when you also buy their records and love them for their art. I have to say though, that compared to the discrimination that transgenders are faced with, the gays are doing ok – at least around here. We all know, there are countries where barbaric shit still happens. It’s still a long way to go until no one even cares anymore about that kind of thing! Love is Love.

Second voice on this great new song “50 Shades Of Gay” is nobody else but London-based artist Valkyrie Beestings, who some of you might remember from the Junksista track “likeyourshoes”… Val accepted replying to our few questions.

SL: So Val, what does the 17th of may (international day against homophobia and transphobia) mean to you in particular?

V. Very important. I’m part of the London gay scene and I wish I could say I don’t know of any attacks but I’ve known of several that have affected our community even in London & it’s supposed to be civilised here! Sadly we cannot be complacent as civilisation is fragile. The more we can spread the message that human rights means ALL rights the better across the world.

SL: Ad can we consider you as an engaged artist in some ways?

V. I’ve sometimes wondered if I’ve been engaged enough? Visibility is important so the fact I’m out means I have some influence. I organised an 80s warehouse party and Junksista came over from Germany to play a gig with THE DEVICES in Hackney. We got a really awesome DJ to play and I collected a bucket of money for Stonewall. Recently I’ve played a number of charity gigs for various things such as mental health charity MIND with The PRISCILLAS who I play lead guitar for and LENE LOVICH (who I play bass for) did a fund raiser for The Sophie Lancaster Foundation which is a charity set up by the mother of a Goth who was murdered in a hate crime. (You should read about it here)

SL: Very active indeed! Have you seen any evolution in mentalities in the UK throughout the years?

V. There was some incredible advances made in the 80s for freedom of expression and sexuality. It is impossible to imagine how brave those pioneers were with men wearing make-up and gender-bending fashion in an era of the miners’ strikes in the UK. I recently saw the film “Pride”. I highly recommend it as it covered some of this, but as I grew up, I think somehow things in the gay scene missed the mark for me musically as Techno, Trance, House Music, Hard House somehow took the gay-scene into club basements and left me standing with a guitar and thinking? What? I really can’t do this folk stuff! I like punk and electric guitars too much!

Thank God for nights at the Ghetto (a now extinct club behind what was The Astoria in London), Misshapes at Trash Palace and Popstars at The Scala. Music in London actually was fun in those 90s and naughties you know? I still got to dance like a twat to CHOONS! So the ‘vague’ era of straight people dancing in gay clubs and vice versa was very progressive throughout this period. Sadly London’s clubs have been suffering from the pressurised property market and we have seen some much-loved Gay clubs closing down such as The Black Cap in Camden and The Candy Bar. I don’t understand why this scene isn’t more valued because it brings so much revenue and tourism but positive moves to protect clubs are coming into play. We can be grateful that the wonderful Slimelight is still alive and well on the alternative scene at least as it is a place anyone can feel at home! So because of these clubs and music scenes, attitudes towards the LGBT community have improved massively here, but what about elsewhere in the world? There is so much work for human rights still to be done!

SL: Val, you who knows Junksista for some time now… What was your first impression you had on Junksista’s song “50 shades of gay” when you first played it before you recorded your vocals?

V. I thought it was playful and fun. That’s why I tried to get some cheeky energy into the backing vocals as Diane’s sexy German accent excited me! (laugh)

We also asked some questions to Alfa Matrix’s Label & Artist Manager Seba Dolimont

SL: For the occasion of the international day against homophobia, Alfa Matrix decided to release the “50 Shades Of Gay” EP. How important are such “international” days for you?

Seba. Well… I find such dedicated days important. Maybe not all cos some are a bit too commercially oriented to my taste. But for such important causes as women rights, homosexual rights, etc. yes they are important to help us not forget. At the same time it’s sad we need such celebrations to create awareness. Cos if mentalities have evolved a lot the last 2 generations in Western Europe countries, there are still too many places in the world where rights are not respected and where being homosexual is even a taboo and is assimilated to a disease! I am very happy to see that the Belgian gay pride is celebrating its 20th birthday this year reaching out more and more visibility! Even where I work for my daily job next to Alfa Matrix, they decided to illuminate our building in the center of Brussels with the rainbow colours during this all week. This is something we could never have thought of last century!

SL: You released this EP now against homophobia, you did the “Absolute Grrrls Manifesto” compilation putting women in the spotlight, you release the music of the BRUDERSCHAFT project supporting cancer charities… Is Alfa Matrix an engaged label?

Seba. Not sure whether “engaged” is the right word? We do not have a specific one-cause we are fighting for. Our focus is to give a way to artists expressing themselves without restrictions nor censorship. We definitely release the music and design of engaged artists who have things to express and they shout it loud! We have full respect and trust in our artists and they enjoy total artistic freedom at Alfa Matrix… So let’s say we proudly support the engagement of our bands and friends.

SL: You have been active on the music scene for almost 30 years. Have you seen things changing over the years as far as homophobia?

Seba. Generally things have changed positively even if there are still many more wars to win… Even around me, at work for example, being gay is no longer something to hide. I remember managing at work some people from earlier generations than mine who were quite shy about their homosexuality. Nowadays the younger people seem to be much more open about their sexual orientation and it’s very nice! On the music scene, I find there is more and more tolerance and more and more artists openly talk about their homosexuality, etc.

But it also means there are maybe less actions to struggle against homophobia than in the past? I remember for example how impacting it was when Claus Kruse of Plastic Noise Experience launched his Gaytron project with very engaged lyrics. But sadly we still have stupid intolerant people around who send us insulting mails and messages when we released awesome songs like “Be My Fetish” or yet “The Bears Aren’t Sleeping Tonight” by Leaether Strip for example. I’m not happy having such closed-minded individuals amongst our label fanbase. Alfa Matrix stands for eclecticism and tolerance. I am against all forms of discriminations. So thanks a lot to you for publishing this article! Your rule!

Also an eminent figure on the electro / industrial scene who contributed a great powerful remix to the song: Danish multi-talented artist Claus Larsen (Leaether Strip)

SL: Does the 17th of may (international day against homophobia and transphobia) mean something special to you at all? How important are such “international” awareness days for you?

Claus: Yes it is very important day for me. Especially for the millions of people living in constant fear because of the way they were born. Having to live a lie or hide who they really are to feel safe and live in peace, because of something you have no control of is a feeling that kills you slowly. I myself found a way out of my hell through music, but I was also lucky enough to be born in Denmark, and I feel that it’s important for us who can live a relatively safe open daily life, to be the voice for the people who would risk their life being open in public about their situation.

SL: Can we consider you as an engaged artist?

Claus: Yes. My songs also reflect that. My lyric topics often involve issues about social problems, hatred aimed at what’s not the norm, and standing up for yourself and to be strong enough to be exactly who you are. When I started to write songs I was 14 years old and very much in the closet, and the music saved me. I found an outlet for all my pain and frustrations about the hate I felt because people could feel that I wasn’t like them, and it still serves that function for me today, cause these scars never go away. If I can help one person with a lyric or song, I have served a purpose.

SL: You who have been active on the music scene for such a long time. How much have mentalities changed / evolved around homosexuality since your early years and today?

Claus: The scene was somewhat homophobic back in the 90’s, and I really felt that when I came out in public, when I met and married my husband Kurt. The labels I was on at the time would have DJ’s sending back promo copies of my releases telling the labels not to send them this “gay shit”, and other worse words, and that was from DJ’s who played me lots before I came out. I still hear a “faggot” shouted now and then when we play festivals, and I can’t say that it doesn’t hurt, I know I shouldn’t but it does, it brings up a lot of really nasty memories from my childhood and teen years. At my own shows there is nothing but love and respect. One time I stopped the show at a festival in Berlin, and said to the crowd “To that asshole who just shouted Faggot at me, Please come say it again to my face instead of hiding like the scared little shit you are hiding there in the audience”. But I get so many private emails from people, and such nice words at the shows, who think of little old me as a role model for them, and that makes it easier to deal with the name calling. I am known as the EBM queer Uncle Claus, and I’m bloody proud of that. Also I’m too old to give a shit, I’ll be OK, it’s the youth we got to worry about, and what they have to grow up in, especially in countries where gay people are seen as filth and something not human.

SL: What was your first impression you had on Junksista’s song “50 shades of gay” when you first played it before accepting to remix it?

Claus: I found it really refreshing and very danceable, and with a great lyric too. I got the idea for my version instantly so it was great fun to be a part of this great release.

We also talked to the other remixer on this EP, Claus Kruse, leader of the famous Plastic Noise Experience who also has a more engaged project under the Gaytron flag.

SL: Claus, what does the 17th of may mean to you at all? How important are such “international” awareness days for you?

C. As a matter of fact it‘s a very important day and international awareness is needed. Worldwide too many gay, lesbian and transsexual people experience discrimination and violence. As long as there are still countries where same sex relationships are criminalised this promotion is crucial.

SL: With a project like Gaytron, I suppose we can consider you as an engaged artist too?

C. I started my gay music side project called Gaytron in 1992 after I faced some homophobic attacks during our PNE shows at that time. My message was pretty simple: I am proud to be gay and whoever doesn’t like that should simply fuck off. The lyrics came pretty much to the point in tracks like Männerliebe. It was very important to me to make a clear statement. Nobody should hide for being homo or transsexual. The tracks at that time worked out very well. I got very good feedback from all over the world.

SL: And since the creation of Gaytron, how have things progressed and evolved the last 25 years? Did you perceive any switch in mentalities at all?

C. Being gay in the EBM scene isn‘t a big issue any longer. It‘s a very gay friendly scene and actually nobody cares if you are homo or transsexual. It‘s a community about music. 30 years ago the scene was more mixed with all kind of weird teenagers from all kind of political directions. Any kind of right wing ideas are not tolerated in the scene nowadays.

SL: And by the way, what was your first impression you had on Junksista’s song “50 shades of gay” when you first played it before accepting to remix it?

C. It‘s a great track. Junksista did exactly the right thing and I love the fact that they can laugh about themselves. The lyrics are awesome. I hope there are more artists to create even more awareness about the international day against homophobia and transphobia. The more the better!

Last but not least, famous Photographer-Director behind the video clip for the song, River Wilde accepted replying to a few questions.

SL: Does the 17th of may (international day against homophobia and transphobia) mean something special to you at all? How important are such “international” awareness days for you?

RW. Awareness is the first step toward acceptance. We still have a long way to go before people recognize that sexuality is not a choice.

SL: Can we consider you as an engaged artist?

RW. Very much yes! I treat my creative lifestyle as a career choice and take it upon myself to show the world beauty every day.

SL: With your experience on the art scene. How much have mentalities changed / evolved around homosexuality since your early years and today?

RW. I started in front of the camera doing porn at 18. The industry shocked me with selective acceptance of body types and sexuality. I was told I would lose value to the producers the minute I turned 19 which didn’t sit well with me. At first I just left the industry and felt fed up with humanity. At the age of 24 however I started doing photography/videography and took it upon myself to show people the beauty I saw in them. The timing was right and I hooked up with local (to Colorado) venues who were pushing for opinions to move toward acceptance. Nothing satisfies my creative lust like showing someone they are perfect just the way they are.

SL: What was your first impression you had on Junksista’s song “50 shades of gay” when you first played it?

RW. I started dancing in my kitchen and hit replay again and again…