6 underrated nonbinary artists who deserve far more hype
As society strives for more progressive views on gender and sexuality, our taste in music has become more expansive, diverse and, more importantly, refreshing. A decade ago, you'd struggle to find nonbinary artists in mainstream popularity. That's not to say nonbinary artists didn't exist — quite the opposite.
As western culture warms to gender fluidity, embracing it with open arms instead of shoving it away, more artists feel comfortable being open about their gender without worrying whether it might hinder their success. Though progress is slow-coming, there has been an overwhelming widespread initiative among music communities to help platform more trans and nonbinary artists into music spaces to ensure that they're being celebrated as much as their cisgendered peers. Nonbinary artists have always existed but are now being given spaces to celebrate their music.
We're highlighting artists you need to be listening to ASAP.
There's no one who epitomizes the statement "jack of all trades" than record producer, singer-songwriter, mixing engineer and DJ Arca. Is there anything they can't do? In an interview with PAPER Magazine, she explains, "I identify as a transwoman, and I see my gender identity as nonbinary. I think nonbinariness is corporeal; it's a reconciliation between how we see ourselves as part of a collective and how we want to express our individual urges in the context of that. There's something primordial about it."
A beloved AP alumni, 2022's Heterosexuality was an open, unapologetically honest look at queerness through a lens of vulnerability and trauma, both heartfelt yet brutally real. The album artwork alone was truly iconic, featuring Shamir as an androgynous Baphomet, dressed in horns and hooves.
“One aspect is the inherent androgyny of the Baphomet. Because of my androgyny and because I look very queer, I often feel subhuman in the way that people approach me. So it’s a play on that," the artist explained in an interview with AP earlier this year.
You may know JER from their massive online presence as SkatuneNetwork, TikTok's favorite music-related content creator who loves nerding out about the ska revival to their 379,000 followers. Despite the many frontiers leading the new wave of ska, JER is one of the few representing queer, Black artists in that space.
In an interview with Vice, Jer says, "Ska is something I've just genuinely loved for so long, and people love when you're doing something you love on the internet." Who knew a trombone could slap so hard?
A self-described "ugly popstar," ZAND is the lipstick-smeared, dirty grin pulling faces at the polished preppy world of pop. Among their fantastic discography is fan-favorite "Slut Money," an anthem for sex workers that criticizes those who shame their line of work, but are happy to pay for it when it comforts them.
Dua Saleh (they/xe)
The season 3 Sex Education star is best known for their onscreen talents, but beyond their acting capabilities, Dua Saleh is a longtime poet. In fact, they revealed that slam poetry is what led them into music. “[Music] definitely feels more free, definitely feels like I’m floating in the wind and existing in a lot more emotions, allowing myself to exist in a lot more emotions," Saleh tells Complex. "I feel like with poetry, I often use it to deal with trauma. So, sometimes there’s humor, but I feel like it’s more so intentionally about me working through the harder things that I’ve dealt with.”
There's a unique sense of belonging with morgxn's tracks — "THE WAY IT WAS" and "HOME" are the warm hug after coming in from the cold. Harmonies, poppy choruses and catchy hooks. What more can you ask for?