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Sophie Ellis-Bextor's message to LGBTQ+ fans? 'Thank you'

Sophie Ellis-Bextor's message to LGBTQ+ fans? 'Thank you'


Sophie Ellis-Bextor's message to LGBTQ+ fans? 'Thank you'
Scott Dudelson/FilmMagic

The "Murder on the Dancefloor" singer credits her renaissance to her longtime queer fans who never gave up on her — or disco.

Sophie Ellis-Bextor was preparing to perform for the first time in Los Angeles (well, West Hollywood actually) where she was invited to perform on Saturday night at WeHo Pride's annual Outloud Music Festival. It was the second of seven shows she had planned in the United States as part of her first North American tour.

And the LGBTQ+ crowds have been turning out in full force for the 45-year-old English singer, whose 2001 track “Murder on the Dancefloor” has experienced a resurgence since it appeared at the conclusion of last year's dark comedy Saltburn, when a nude Barry Keoghan grooved naked to it through a mansion. The Amazon film has spawned a dedicated following of its own for its portrayal of decadent homoeroticism and seduction among the British upper crust, with "Murder" arriving at the climax.

The response among fans live today has been “insane. I mean, I really didn't know what to expect. I've been doing what I do for ages, but this is my first [North American] tour. So I didn't know who was going to be there to meet me,” says Ellis-Bextor, sipping tea from a “Murder on the Dancefloor” mug in the sunny West Hollywood Park.

For Ellis-Bextor, the reception is also “incredibly heartwarming because it's been some people who clearly have been supporting what I've been up to for a little while. And that feels really good.”

Thanks to the renaissance of “Murder,” Ellis-Bexter appeared for the first time on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 this year and was signed to Universal Music Group. Expect new music shortly. While the mainstream may have finally caught on to the talents of the disco-pop diva, LGBTQ+ fans have long shown up for Ellis-Bextor — and she is eager to do the same for them this Pride season.

“It really means a lot to me. And the feeling is very mutual. When I perform, I really try and look at each and every face …meeting people who are saying, Oh, they didn't think they'd get the opportunity to come and see me live, and they've maybe bought some gifts, and it's incredible. You just never know what you're going to find. And I love what I do so much. So having that support is absolutely integral. It's like the keystone of what I'm up to really. Plus all the music I do is like rooted in disco, which is so part of what this is all about too."

Being invited to perform at Pride is particularly meaningful for Ellis-Bextor, who first found her footing in queer spaces. “I think the beautiful thing about Pride is…I wouldn't have the…confidence that I do on stage if it weren't for a few actually very key gigs I've done at clubs like GAY back in London. And the Pride events have been a really significant part of my story. So I love the fact that I'm invited to come and perform. It means a lot to me. And I also like the fact that Pride always feels connected to a past and a present and a future all at once because of what's at the core of what it's about. Still so significant. Still so needed, still so important. Yeah, it's kind of an honor really."

Ellis-Bextor sees the meaning of “Murder” differently today than from its release at the dawn of the millennium. She views it as part of a larger conversation that she shares with a culture in flux. “I don't think...music is static. You don't release a song, and then it just gets like preserved in time. Things evolve, they shift,” she notes. “I mean, the reason you release a song in the first place is dialogue, isn't it? You're putting a message out into the world and people talk back to you. You know, that's what you're hoping for. So everything that's happened with ‘Murder’ in the last six months, still so recent, Saltburn and everything has become part of its journey, part of its story completely. And everybody that's interacted with it in any way at any point that they've known it owns a little bit of a song, you know. It's a very communal song. I share it with lots of people.”

Ellis-Bextor also appreciates how the explosion of social media has allowed her to witness communal fan responses. “TikTok's genius, because you get to really see how people respond to music. And I mean when ‘Murder' came out the first time, you had to go on tour to see people actually interacting. So to watch people have their own relationship with it is brilliant.”

Above all, Ellis-Bextor values her relationship with LGBTQ+ fans — and has a message for them this Pride season: “Mainly, just thank you... I really do love what I do very much. And I would not have had a career without that support. So it just it's kind of everything. And being invited to Pride is never something I take for granted. It matters to me. So I'm really glad to be here.”

Ellis-Bextor appeared in WeHo Pride's Outloud Music Festival, which ran from May 31 to June 2 at the West Hollywood Park. Other headliners included Kylie Minogue, Janelle Monáe, and Kesha.

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Daniel Reynolds

Daniel Reynolds is the editor-in-chief of Out and an award-winning journalist who focuses on the intersection between entertainment and politics. This Jersey boy has now lived in Los Angeles for more than a decade.

Daniel Reynolds is the editor-in-chief of Out and an award-winning journalist who focuses on the intersection between entertainment and politics. This Jersey boy has now lived in Los Angeles for more than a decade.