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Trans Musician Sidney Chase Talks Bathroom Bills, Visibility & Her White House Performance

Sidney Chase
Photo by Tanner Albert

"Every breath a trans person of color takes is an act of revolution."

In Sidney Chase's latest album Pajamas, she equally emulates vulnerability and a fearless attitude. The trans musician captures an ethereal sound like that of Lana Del Rey, but with an authentic spirit that speaks to her own life experience. It's a talent seen in few artists, and one that beautifully expresses a generation's lost voice.

Inspired by the strength of marginalized communities during times of political and social uncertainty, Chase's album seeks to appeal to the struggles of all people. "Queen Savage" touches on the disconnect between generations as we fight for a better future; "One Hundred" preaches resistance through the lyrics, "It's in the air of every room I'm in, a binary code I don't represent, bitch you better know that i'm not having it, fuck your respectability politics."

Born and raised in oppressive Oklahoma, Chase recently relocated to Portland where she's found and fostered a progressive community that feeds her creative spirit. But with Trump now in office, making her message heard globally is more important than ever, so we sat down with the artist to learn more.

OUT: You recently released a new album, Pajamas. What were some of the inspirations behind these songs?

Sidney Chase: So Pajamas is a record for LGBTQ people working on their grind. It was most certainly designed to encourage trans and queer people to navigate the world. It's not often we get our own soundtracks. While it explicitly approaches a marginalized experience in the world, I wanted to emphasize the challenges that we all face day in and day out. I was so much inspired by the brave, unapologetic nature displayed by my community through this politically charged climate and for those whose experiences have been excluded from art.

You have such a soulful sound. What other artists have influenced you?

I grew up listening to lots of Motown and R&B. I was inspired by a lot of different styles though. I love Stevie Wonder, Amy Winehouse, Fleetwood Mac. I love bad '90s pop like Hoku and Sixpence None the Richer. Lately, I've been really into Kehlani, Anna Wise, This Wild Life, Rihanna. I'm all over the place. (laughs)

As a queer artist, what was it like living in Oklahoma?

I grew up in Oklahoma, lived there for the past four years. It can be a difficult climate to navigate but it also taught me to fight for my values. I fought against the bathroom bills and went to the capitol with many other trans people in attempts to humanize our experiences in the eyes of the law. It can be exhausting to be a queer person there but I will always have a special place in my heart for it.

And you now live in Portland?

Yes, I recently moved to Portland this past December to start producing music with a good friend of mine and I love it. This is like the place I was born to live. The dream of the '90s is definitely alive in Portland. LGBTQ protections also help.

Performing Not One More at The White House. Image via National LGBTQ Task Force

A post shared by Sidney Chase (@sidney_chase) on

You performed at the White House not long ago. What was that like?

Performing at the White House was one of the most surreal and earth shattering experiences of my life. My jaw was on the floor from the moment I received the invite until I finished my last drink and staggered through the security exit. The turnout was beautiful and so diverse, and trans people slayed the white house, slayed. I felt so blessed to be there representing the Trans Women of Color Collective and working alongside their fearless leader, Lourdes Ashley Hunter who says, "Every breath a trans person of color takes is an act of revolution." That quote represents the heartbeat of my experience at The White House.

Related | Cae Monae Calls For Visibility of Transgender Murders in Powerful New Mix

As a trans woman of color, how do you plan to use your platform now that Trump is in office?

I feel that my most impactful work takes place through my music. Trans women of color are so rarely represented in entertainment as it is, let alone the music industry. So I feel what I contribute is important, even if it's one person or a million people. If one person was positively affected by my work, then I consider that a valuable success. However, I'd like to also continue to use any platforms I have to continue to draw attention to the systematic issues trans and gender nonconforming youth are facing today. According to recent reports, over 24 trans folks were killed just last year, with most of them being trans people of color. We need to talk about that and why. We need to address the disparagement in the media of those we've lost. It's easy for us to be distracted by the election, but it's time to change the narrative and pass the mic. Trump does not and will not control our narrative. That's what 2017 looks like for me.

Sidney Chase's album, Pajamas, is now available on iTunes. Watch the video for the title track, below.

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