Rainbow Rodeo will now be weekly! This is especially useful as some of our primary means of communication, Twitter especially and Instagram to a certain extent, begin to serve us even less.
If you've made the jump to Mastodon, you can find me at firstname.lastname@example.org I am working with Jeremy LeRoux of the Country Everywhere artist directory to create an Americana-specific Mastodon server soon and, if you don't know what the heck I'm talking about, I plan to write a Mastodon explainer over the weekend.
In the meantime, respond to this e-mail for a link to the Rainbow Rodeo Discord server. Discord is basically Slack but cool, which is basically a very organized group chat. We've already had some networking stuff happen and that's very cool!
I've also added a separate Events section because every time I go on the Rainbow Rodeo Insta I see ads for new queer country parties and things!
And, if you're now around here: welcome! Here's the deal: Rainbow Rodeo is a queer country music zine that is by and for the community. There is one guest writer a month. Twice a year, I will run a crowdfunding campaign for the zine, which will compile the guest writers' pieces as well as other reviews and print-only articles. I'll publish a call for writers soon! You can contribute by subscribing to the Patreon -- you'll only be charged twice a year, when the zine goes to print.
This interview was originally published in Rachel's blog, Adobe & Teardrops
Ariel Bui is a musical artist, activist & educator based out of Nashville, TN, where she also runs music school Melodia Studio. “As a woman of many hats, I am driven by a desire to live a meaningful existence, hoping to make the world a better place through music & more.” Ariel teaches piano, plays guitar, writes songs, and sings from the heart.
As a classically trained musician, Bui’s sound subtly spins classic pop with a variety of American genres – modern indie rock, pop, alt country, 60’s psychedelia, classic soul, and more – all bound together by her unique perspective and songwriting voice.
Bui released her album Real & Fantasy two weeks ago. In our conversation, she dives into how Real & Fantasy explores sexual identity and coming into one’s own.
1) Does your album have an overarching theme?
My new album, Real & Fantasy, could be considered a concept album with a narrative and overarching themes. It’s a roughly chronological journey from youth to adulthood, exploring identity, sexuality, fantasy, and reality not only within the context of one’s self but in relationship to others.
2) Tell us about the first song you wrote.
The first song I wrote and considered a real song was “The End” off of my first record Disguised As Fate (2008). I wrote it when I was about fifteen or sixteen, after a few years of teaching myself guitar and experimenting with songwriting. The song grapples with the experience of being taken advantage of by an older man in the music scene. It was a song of trying to overcome trauma and basically tell myself that it would somehow all be okay in the end, to keep living and persevering, and accept that life goes on.
In 2018, I celebrated the 10th anniversary of that first record full of songs I wrote as a teenager and young adult. In 2019, I wrote “Sixteen” to kick off my new album, Real & Fantasy. I recall my youth: the fun, the emergence of my own voice & sexuality, but also the darker truths of those times, to emphasize yet again as an adult that there is power and depth in our youth and that women’s & girls’ voices need to be heard.
3) How do you feel your queer identity ties into your performance style or music?
Real & Fantasy documents a journey of exploring and accepting aspects of myself and my sexuality that I had long been afraid of or ashamed of. Learning to accept the fluidity of love and relationships that don’t necessarily fit into the binary constructs of relationship. Of all the letters of the LGBTQ+ spectrum, I most closely identify with Q for questioning—if gender and relationship norms are societal constructs, then what more is my heart capable of as I continue to grow & evolve as a person?
And as I grow and evolve, will those that I know & love be able to grow and evolve alongside me, love me and accept me for who I am, and be compatible? I am at once so excited to accept myself as who I am and afraid to make private parts of myself known to others. Yet, that is why music and art is such an important form of processing experiences and expressions. You can say so much with so little, and leave it up to the interpretation of the listener.
4) What is your vision for a more just music industry?
I believe music plays an important role in community and society and that artists deserve to live & work with dignity, respect and equality. I believe that art and music should be largely considered a social service, and that the model of unbridled capitalism and corporate profits in the context of the arts can often lead to unchecked exploitation of artists and homogenization of what is marketed to the masses—leading to a lack of diversity and equality when it comes to access to opportunities, resources and fair wages.
I believe a more just music industry could be modeled more like in countries like Canada and New Zealand, where artists are supported by public funding as an exchange for their contributions to society. I believe there should be more opportunities for underrepresented voices to better showcase the actual diversity of our communities, rather than just showcasing the faces we think will be most marketable to those with more resources. A more just music industry would look like a more just society, where people can earn a living wage for their labor and be treated as equals regardless of their race, gender or sexual orientation
5) What’s a recent release you cannot stop listening to?
Phuong Tam’s Magical Nights: Saigon Surf, Twist & Soul (1964-1966)
The album, released by Sublime Frequencies in 2021, is a collection of unearthed recordings of rock & surf music from Vietnam during the Vietnam War era. After the Fall of Saigon, singer Phuong Tam immigrated to America and left her musician life behind to the point where her own daughter had no idea that her mom had been a rock star in Vietnam. American-influenced music like hers was nearly erased from history after the Communist regime took over, much like it was in Cambodia. It is really cool that people are doing the work of compiling and archiving music like Phuong Tam’s.
This style and era of rock music, I feel, bridges my American and Vietnamese roots in a way that I find inspiring and authentic.
Real & Fantasy is available on all streaming platforms.
Here are all of the queer country album releases this month! Let me know if I should add something to the list!
11/11 — Joel Brogon
11/11 -- Secret Emchy Society
11/18 — Melissa Carper
Secret Emchy Society's Gold Country Country Gold came out over the summer and now it's released on streaming!
Congrats to the Brothers Osborne for winning vocal duo of the year at the otherwise morally bankrupt CMAs!
Joy Oladokun's Mountain Stage set was unapologetically queer
It’s not country, but Vulture’s music podcast Switched on Pop has an article about the TikTok subgenre sapphic pop. Emma Maden wrote a piece a few years ago about her concerns about the genre, namely its sexlessness.
Pre-save Adeem the Artist’s new album White Trash Revelry, coming out in December!
godimsuchadyke now has a kd lang sweatshirt for sale and I don't ask for much but this could be a really nice holiday gift for me or your favorite queer country fan...
You can get almost 50% off the book Queer Country using this code: F21UIP
This thread gives advice on self-managed transition in Alabama and other states that restrict our bodily autonomy
11/17, NYC -- The Parkside Lounge is hosting Giddy Up! A Queer Country Night and I will be there selling Rainbow Rodeo surreptitiously out of my backpack, so come say hi! More importantly, Wiley Gaby, Amelia Jackie, Tamie Hart, and AnotherWoman will be performing!
12/31, Nashville -- There’s gonna be a queer country New Year’s Eve party in Nashville featuring Chris Housman, Lila McCann, Autumn Nicholas, Shelley Fairchild, and Ty Herndon. Get your tickets now!
Updated every week!
Thanks to Catie Pearl-Hartling for making a parallel list on Apple Music!
Submit your music and events to The Q LGBTQ Creative Network
This Twitter thread has a whole list of places to find jobs in the music industry
And here’s a list of resources for “women” entering the music industry — presumably they also encourage nonbinary participants
Submit your profile to the Country Everywhere which seeks to unite BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and disabled artists and professionals
Sign up to the Black Opry Revue’s interest form
Check out the weekly Queerfolk Fest show in Nashville