Is there a place for a queer voice within the world of R&B?
Russell Elliot is a self-identified pansexual feminist engaged in a Kickstarter campaign to fund a record with a queer framework that also respects women.
Called "Reimagining R&B," the campaign from this New York-based artist is slated to culminate in a 4-song EP. In an industry often slammed for being rooted in misogyny and homophobia with little to no queer representations, Elliot's work has the potential to be groundbreaking.
The Huffington Post chatted with the artist this week about his campaign and what he is trying to accomplish.
The Huffington Post: What is your vision for this EP?
Russell Elliot: The Russell Elliot EP is a step towards honoring the writer's commitment I have tattooed on my wrist: "tell it like it is." If half of the authenticity, fearlessness and honesty I hope to channel into this project comes through to listeners, I will be a happy, happy man. Ultimately, my vision is to speak candidly about my own experiences (in love, lust, frustration, indignation, etc.) with a clarity and confidence I wouldn’t have been able to unearth in another time and space.
The hip hop and R&B communities have historically been noted for being rooted in misogyny and homophobia. How do you aim to combat this through your work?
R&B is a tough genre for queer voices because of this. I’m voicing my own experiences -- the likes of which I haven’t heard much in R&B (shout out to you, Frank Ocean, for being one of the great exceptions). I hope that one day someone who feels alienated in the current R&B climate will come to feel included because they hear a voice like mine talking about a life like mine. Sometimes cultural change is also about what we don’t say -- or refuse to say. I refuse to demean / debase / objectify / reduce other people. I hope my music can exemplify that we don’t need to do these things to have a hit R&B record.
How does your identity as a pansexual feminist inform your work?
My identity as a pansexual feminist informs my work insofar as it informs my identity. The same is true of me being a musician -- it all informs what I do as I tell stories from my lived experience. I’m so happy that my music, the stories I tell and the worldview I create through can contribute to important growing dialogues on cultural change.
Head here to check out Elliot's campaign "Reimagining R&B."