No one ever said it was easy being a queer kid but music certainly helps. So does a sense of community, even if only online. Homoground does it all by throwing shows with queer and allied artists as well as putting out a weekly podcast, mixtape and even TV show. Aside from uniting music lovers and artists of all genres, Homoground is an amazing resource for queer kids in isolated communities who need more than just gay bars and porn, who need to share their stories and songs.
On October 23rd, Homoground is throwing the very first queer CMJ Showcase that I'll be honored to be performing at. I approached Homoground founder Lynn Casper over the summer to help fill the gap in what I saw was a lack of LGBTQ representation in what's always been such a great week to check out new artists. She secured a spot at the excellent new venue in Brooklyn, Friends & Lovers where we'll be joined by diverse acts like Clinical Trials (featuring Somer Bingham of 'The Real L Word') and electro rock outfits, Glitterlust and Bottoms.
I sat down with Lynn recently to discuss Homoground and our upcoming show:
Brett: Hey Lynn, thanks for the great music! Would you mind explaining your inspiration behind starting and maintaining Homoground? Was there a specific hole in the media or music markets you were trying to fill?
Lynn: Music had always been a major thing in my life. My father loved music so I was always surrounded by instruments, records, cassette tapes and music blasting throughout the house growing up. I was always creating playlists with whatever form of technology was available (mixtapes, cds, mp3s, DJing in clubs, podcasts). At the time I started doing Homoground, I was very involved in community organizing, specifically LGBTQ activism. I was also surrounded by so many amazing musicians and wanted to share their music with other people. The podcast took various other forms before it became Homoground. I did a lot of research in the beginning stages, seeing if anyone was doing anything like this already. There were some more popular sites out there that briefly touched on LGBTQ musicians, but it was mostly mainstream or celebrity focused. There were also smaller blogs that were updated occasionally, but nothing that was.. say.. a queer version of Pitchfork or MTV, and that was the type of thing that I wished existed.
Brett: I love the mission statement on Homoground which says, 'Uniting Queer Musicians and Music Lovers' - how would you describe the re-appropriation of the word 'queer'? In what sense are you using it here?
Lynn: I like using the word queer because it encompasses all the letters of the LGBTQIAA alphabet soup. To me, queer means defining your self outside of a conformative, heteronormative standard.
Brett: Aside from promoting performances by queer artists on Homoground, you've begun throwing your own shows. How has it been stepping out from behind the computer? Have you found any reluctance in folks booking our coming out to a queer event?
Lynn: Live events are always riskier than just putting out a podcast because it really relies on a lot of different factors. It takes place in one geographic location at a set time. So people need to A. know about it. B. be available at specific time C. make the effort to show up, whereas the podcast can be accessed anytime from anywhere. So in that respect, doing live events is a lot more work, with uncertain outcomes. It's interesting though because when I lived in North Carolina, the events there have been more successful than the events I've done in NYC so far. Which kind of makes sense because communities in North Carolina don't have as much access to see queer events, so when events do happen people will go out to show their support. But NYC is really saturated. There could be multiple queer events in one night.
Brett: You've also recently begun Homoground TV programming in partnership with BBOXRadio and Brooklyn Independent Media featuring music videos as well as your one-on-one interviews with artists. How has it been stepping in front of the camera?
Lynn: Transforming the podcast into a TV show has been an amazing opportunity. The show is hosted by me and Maia Macdonald. Maia has so much experience with interviewing bands and also does her own podcast on Breakthru Radio. Having a co-host makes being in front of the camera less scary. We're still in pilot mode trying to figure out all the kinks and see what works best. We have 4 episodes under our belt so far and you can watch them at Homoground.tv
Brett: You put out a podcast of original, mostly unknown music every week. How do you stay so consistent with your output? Is it mostly you proactively finding new music or primarily artist submissions?
Lynn: Homoground airs on BBOXRadio every Sunday at 1pm EST. To date, Homoground has 136 episodes, all of which are available through iTunes. I try to be consistent with new episodes every week, but on the weeks I can't, we air re-streams of past episodes.
When I first started, I was just playing music that my friends made and they would recommend their friends. Or I would spotlight a specific show or festival and contact bands that were on the bill. After a few months, I started getting requests from people I didn't know.
Now there's a submission page on the website where people can submit their music. We have a long queue of submissions that we're currently trying to get through, so bare with us if it takes some time before you're featured!
Brett: Are there any artists you've worked with through Homoground that have really left an impression? Any 'fangirl' moments?
Lynn: I'm really lucky that Homoground has provided me with a lot opportunities to see so many amazing bands. I was super excited to meet Kimya Dawson & Kaki King who played Homoground events in my hometown, Wilmington, NC. It really meant a lot to me that they came through Wilmington because often times touring bands don't stop through.
Seeing as Homoground is run mostly by volunteers I like to encourage everyone to support them by purchasing something from their store and by coming to sponsored events like our Homoground CMJ Showcase on October 23rd at Friends & Lovers in Brooklyn. Like most Homoground ventures it will be filled with diverse people playing diverse music and I believe; the first of it's kind. Please join us:
Homoground CMJ Showcase at Friends & Lovers on October, 23rd at 7:30 p.m.
Join the FaceBook Invite so you can see if your friends are going and stalk the artists.
Tickets are only $8 in advance HERE or $10 at the door.