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Drumaq Discusses Online Influencers, Queer Youth, & His Debut EP

Photo by Rony Alwin

The queer artist found inspiration in Frank Ocean's coming out, and wants to pay it forward.

Drew MacDonald AKA Drumaq represents a growing platform for young queer artists. The Canadian musician takes a fearless yet vulnerable approach to his music, emulating such artists as Troye Sivan and Olly Alexander. With his lyrics, he hopes to provide an escape for other queer youth during this uncertain time.

Produced by London Future, Drumaq's first studio released single "Neverland" is all about that escape. An electronic symphony, there's a sense of self-awareness and youthfulness in his voice that serenades the track.

We caught up with Drumaq as he prepares the rest of his debut EP for release in January 2017.

OUT: As a queer artist, what was it like coming of age in Newfoundland?

Drumaq: Coming to terms with my sexuality in Newfoundland was definitely difficult, but coming to terms with one's sexuality anywhere in the world can be difficult. Though I was lucky to have support from my family and friends, Newfoundland is pretty isolated and because of that, I didn't really have a gay figure to look up to. Growing up there, there was no gay community for me to even submerse myself in. It definitely created a lot of confusion for me and I spent a lot of time admiring gay artists and influencers online. I remember the exact moment that I read Frank Ocean's coming out post on Tumblr, and just crying. It really gave me strength to see my favorite artist be himself and made me feel like I could do that too, regardless of my location.

What inspired Neverland?

Neverland is about walking a thin line between reality and fantasy. It's that special place, person, thing, or feeling that allows one to escape from everything that's going on in the real world. I've always been strongly infatuated with fantastical things and creating this setting was super important for me. To me, Neverland is the high I get whilst creating music, but for others it may be a drug, love, their favorite song, or the summer home they spent year after year growing up in. Neverland is everything and anything you want it to be.

Your music comes from a very vulnerable place. Would you say it's a therapeutic outlet for you?

I'm a Cancer. I'm dramatic and sensitive and tend to think with my heart instead of my head. Because of that, writing music has always been a therapeutic outlet for me. I feel so intensely about everything that the only way to get it off my chest is by writing about it, and it actually really helps.

What elements of queer issues drive your music?

Everything. I've always made an effort to use "he" and "boy" in my songs 'cause that's who I'm really singing about. Though every listener may not be able to directly relate to the words, they can relate to the feeling, and that's what is most important to me. I think a lot of artists tend to leave out pronouns in hopes of appealing to a larger audience but fuck that. I want to change that.

What do you hope this song provides for young queer fans?

I just hope it helps them escape from whatever may be holding them back or dragging them down. Music has always been medicine for me and if my music is able to heal other people, then I'm happy. I want everyone to fuck with themselves and I really hope this song helps them get to that place of acceptance.

What else can we expect from your first EP?

It's what I like to call R&B-infused-electro-dark-pop. It's been really cool to watch my sound develop as I continue to work on this project, and I'm having a lot of fun experimenting with every genre possible. As a huge music lover, I listen to just about everything and want to make sure my project explores that. It's gonna be dope. I'm nervous and definitely feeling the pressure but it's dreamy and pretty and everything I hoped it would be.

Do you have anything else coming up that you're excited about?

I'm still in the final stages of finishing the project but really hoping to take it on the road and tour after it's released in 2017. That's number one on my to-do list and I'm going to do everything in my power to make it happen. I literally have a playlist on my iTunes titled "Set List" and I run through it almost every night in my bedroom. To actually have my own show would be crazy! Alongside that, I'm working on merch and hoping to graduate college this year, so I'm feeling pretty optimistic for 2017.

Drumaq's single "Neverland" is now available on iTunes. Listen below:

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

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