EXCLUSIVE: Celebrate International Non-Binary Day With EVVAN
The powers that be have informed me it’s International Non-Binary Day! I got top surgery and would identify as butch if given the choice, but I still use she/her pronouns. I know these things make me non-binary by definition, but I still don’t feel totally comfortable using the term yet. But until then, this Tweet sums up how I feel.
Happy non-binary awareness week to everyone who “technically” falls under this category but more accurately “isn’t in the mood to explain.”— EK (@ElliottKozuch) July 12, 2022
That ambivalence isn’t uncommon in the LGBTQ+ community, of course. Coming off of Pride Month, we are fiercely proud of our hard-won rights – even as they’re in question. Maybe we can get married (I’m signing the paper tomorrow!!!) but that doesn’t mean my wife (!!!) and I are safe holding hands while we walk down the street.
Non-binary singer-songwriter EVVAN captures that tension in their new song “Craving.” It’s a fast-paced ’80s rocker with a gospel choir – yeah – with EVVAN’s richly textured voice in the foreground. Imagine the fullness of their hero Brandi Carlile with a bit of a punk edge. Or, don’t imagine. Scroll down and watch the video for “Craving,” directed by EVVAN themself.
“This was my first time directing a music video and it was exhilarating, challenging, and gratifying,” EVVAN told Rainbow Rodeo. “I had no idea that when I explained my vision to Tyler Milliron (videographer and editor), he would blow all of my expectations out of the water. I wanted to run with the 80s route and create both a nostalgic and cathartic experience for the viewer and for myself. My thoughts were to emphasize the confusion and danger people in the LGBTQ+ community experience when dealing with the norm of categorizing gender as two options, girl or boy. There was a freeness and acceptance in dancing through my thoughts of being ‘crazy’ and ‘out of place’ just because I’m labeled as an outlier to societal norms. During the guitar solo, you can hear the anger and desperation, but in the video, you can see the vulnerability and fight for change. The message is to embrace who we are inside and allow ourselves to authentically express this on the outside.”
How do you feel your queer identity ties into your performance style or music?
For me, I think it shows an openness to whoever is listening; I can be a voice for the voiceless through my art. Being queer is something to be proud of and yet there are many of us who don’t feel that way, almost as if it’s a burden. With my music, I use it as an outlet to vent out my emotions when they become too overwhelming and I hope my music resonates with fans to provide that same escape that I’m trying to find. With a song like “Craving,” I was feeling a lot of frustration with the world, and I still am. I was also trying to understand myself and figure out why I was still feeling a sense of dysphoria, so it was a cathartic experience. Being completely out now, I’ve noticed and have been told by other folks that I seem lighter and freer on stage; there was a transformation that I went through and it shows. My writing has expanded and now I take different risks and speak a language that isn’t just geared to people who are cisgender and straight. My queer identity has completely revamped my style and my music and I couldn’t be happier.
Do you try to make the most of being in a city, or do you prefer to just rest up?
One of my favorite things in the entire world is to unplug. Technology is the bane of my existence. My escape from the anxiety of how many likes I get, why I am losing followers, negative comments, etc., is heading upstate and hiking. Not only is it a great way to exert myself, but it’s a way to take stock and show myself the world is bigger than the screen of a phone. Sometimes we need a reset to reevaluate what’s really important in life.
I also don’t mind resting up and reading a good book. I inhale books and love being transported to a new world. Authors write in different styles, passages can be thought-provoking, and a certain character can grab your attention and invite you in. There are so many ways to get lost in stories so having a nice rest in a different way is another favorite of mine.
Is there a professional “bucket list” item you would love to check off?
I definitely have a few that I would absolutely love to check off. I’ll cheat and talk about two of them instead.
One of my dreams is to work with Brandi Carlile. I think she is a brilliant writer, a fantastic performer, and an extraordinary singer. She uses her art to spread messages and fight for what she believes in and I find that admirable. Plus, a queer artist with a voice like that? How can you ignore the power she holds? To be able to collaborate with someone like her would be such an honor and the opportunity of a lifetime. Brandi, if you’re reading this, I can clear my schedule if I need to.
My other dream is to write music for TV/film, but queer content in particular. In my opinion, music is our strongest language. I have found some incredible artists watching an episode of a show and many of the songs I’ve heard have inspired me in ways I wasn’t expecting. To be able to have this effect on someone who is watching queer entertainment and might not be out, that’s something I would hold close and cherish. The community needs more queer artists working on queer shows or movies, singing about queer issues or same-sex relationships, etc. More representation is imperative to invoke change.
What do you want to see from cishet white allies among your coworkers, team, and audience?
I want people to hold themselves accountable. I want them to actively educate themselves and in turn, extend that knowledge to people in their lives, create a domino effect. I’d love for folks to find it in themselves to prove they’re an ally by making the effort to speak out about the adversity they witness, use their voices (which are listened to more than mine) to stand up and fight. I’ve experienced friends going through a pronoun change or transitioning and the reaction is sometimes extremely negative or shows a lack of effort. It’s very easy to assume gender and sexuality when it’s your habit to view people superficially and ignore who they are inside. We talk about judging a book by its cover, so how is this different from judging a person based on the clothes they wear, the color of their skin, the pronouns they use, etc.? Newsflash, there is no difference. Don’t make assumptions about someone when you meet them. Allow them to show you who they are. That’s a great first step.
How are you using your platform to support marginalized people?
No matter how loud my voice is or how far my reach is, I will always do everything in my power to fight for anyone who faces adversity. Society still hasn’t demonstrated a total willingness to accept change. We live in a heteronormative world that stands on the bodies of marginalized people. We are still fighting to simply be acknowledged as human and to receive the respect a cisgender straight white person receives. One of my missions in life is to show anyone who is not what society deems “normal,” that there are people out there who support them, who can understand their point of view, and who can do what is needed to create a safe space. We still have a long way to go and at this point, it feels like we keep going two steps forward and one step back, which is progress, but not enough. There are people stripping our rights, shouting at the top of their lungs that we are lesser than them. Well, I am ready to shout louder. Social media has become a very powerful tool for spreading information and sharing perspectives. While I’m not the biggest fan of it, I will continue to do my best to find ways to get people on the same page and open their minds, and speak a language they can understand, whether that’s through music, videos, memes, or whatever works. Life is full of enough stress without having to fight for a seat at the table. Equality continues to be lacking and we must find a way to bridge the gap.