By: Kelly Chia, Staff Writer
With the backdrop of a peachy sunset, Queer Coded’s Pride Picnic waved the summer off and treated the audience at Thunderbird Commons to a concert by performers SIESKI and Fairything (Alex Masse). Pride flags were strewn about the venue, and sandwiches were distributed to every guest. The atmosphere felt comforting, and for many like myself, this was the first live concert we’d been to since the pandemic.
SIESKI was the first artist performing that night. A local queer musician, SIESKI has released singles over the last few years, with her debut EP, Dreamist, launched in 2019. In an interview, she described her work as “raw song-stories that flow and swell and absorb the listener.
“I make art to connect with humans. I connect with humans to make art,” said SIESKI. “I love to share my stories with others and cultivate unique performance experiences to build a connection that is multi-faceted — thoughtful, pensive, emotional, yet also silly, light-hearted, and fun.”
Her music has a sonical touch of heaven and mischief. The instrumentals felt electric, and her gentle vocals and evocative lyrics made it entrancing to listen to her. One of the songs embodying that electricity was SIESKI’s newest single, “Lady Deity,” which celebrates queer feminity and desire. The lyrics are reverent and sensual, laying out intimate, first-touch experiences between the singer and subject as nothing less than divine.
However, the song that struck me the most was SIESKI’s final song of the night, “Scale Model.” The lyrics embodied the dissonance of having your mind settle into a monotone routine and feeling like you are just watching your life happen before you.
SIESKI said she wrote “Scale Model” in the summer when she was working four jobs. “I felt like my life was moving, and I was just living a scale model of it, too exhausted to be present.”
Calm vocals and instrumentals eased the tone and lifted the song past the drudgery SIESKI sings about. That’s how she capped the set: with clean, silky vocals that left audience members swaying.
Masse began their set with plenty of good humour. A local artist, SFU student, and former Peak staff writer, Masse released their first single in August 2020. As implied by their titles, Masse’s two EPs, Lost Lunar Levels and A Year, Moonbound, have a cool, spacey quality to them. There are these fun tinkles and a moving synth bass in their pieces that sound like video game music.
According to Masse, their work is based on their life experiences. “I guess I’m just putting things out there that I never had, because I never got to like echo back some of the things that I talked about — I don’t know a lot of people who make content about being a nonbinary lesbian, or being a neurodivergent nonbinary lesbian,” they said.
One of the songs that resonated with me that evening was Masse’s “Princess Skin.” The lyrics are notably darker, with references to death, but in the sense of rejecting the identity put onto Masse. Throughout the song, Masse sings about shedding the rotting princess skin that has been put onto them.
However, the second half of the song is empowering. In Masse’s words, “I guess I wrote it to express why I want to live how I live?” The song is dark at times, but the lilting melody of Masse’s voice, even as emotion charged through the song, was mesmerizing.
While Masse was expressing truths specific to their experiences, they were also wary of the emotional toll expressing those. “I don’t want to get to a point where I profit off my own misery because then I am chasing my own misery [ . . . ] I don’t need to do that to myself, and I don’t want to do that to other people.
“I do not want trauma or sadness to be my brand, I want my brand to just be, you know, weird neuroqueer shenanigans!”
After discussing “Princess Skin,” they added it was equally important to make their joy known as well. My favourite song of Masse’s set was “Genderdyke,” because it is genuinely happy.
“I wanted to write a song about my gender identity because I never really see it represented and I know a lot of people don’t understand it,” they said. “So this is basically me trying to put it into words, and simultaneously celebrate it, because the world needs more nonbinary joy.”
Masse hopes to make more music centred on their happiness in future pieces. “I’m liking writing happy songs that aren’t just about yearning, or fighting to figure out my gender identity and stuff,” they said. “More themes of gender euphoria, and more themes of neuroqueer love, and [ . . . ] just neurodivergent self-love.”
Overall, it was a fun night to celebrate the queer feelings that struck a chord with me, and the audience.
SIESKI’s work can be found on her Instagram, @sieski_, on her Spotify as SIESKI, and on her website, sieski.com. Masse’s music and works can be found on Spotify as Fairything, and on their Instagram @itsfairything.