A boy band made up of all queer members who don't have to hide who they are and who are out and proud about their identities? Yup, that's OutLoud!
The four-member, NYC-based pop group wants to be the kind of band they wish they had to look up to growing up, and with a few bops already under their belt — this year's tracks "What's Not Clicking" and "Convenient" — they are hoping to do just that.
Out got the chance to chat with the fabulous foursome, consisting of members Cameron Cipolla, Danny, Daniel Avenu, and Sean Gray, about how they got together, their sound their influences, what they hope the future of the music industry looks like for LGBTQ+ artists, and more!
Out: Take me behind the genesis of the band. How did you all meet and what made you guys actually want to come together and create music together?
Daniel Avenu: We all met at school in New York City, but then we all kind of fell in love with each other while we were studying together in London for a few months. And from there, that's kind of where the boy band idea formed.
Cameron Cipolla: Yeah, we went to Pace University in New York and me and Sean were roommates freshman year.
Sean Gray: There we go.
Cameron Cipolla: We met Danny quite soon after. And then Dan came along a few months later and we were just besties, four besties. And we were all like, let's study abroad together. So we went to London and actually, the idea of the boy band came to be while we were in Barcelona.
Cameron Cipolla: We were just joking around. And we were like, let's just make a tracklist of our songs that we're going to put and we made a tracklist of like 50 different songs with just ridiculous titles that we will never use but that was, kind of the genesis of it.
Danny: Then we moved, when we got back from London, we moved to hell's kitchen, which is like a gayborhood in the city. And, it was the first time all four of us lived together under the same roof instead of different floors or whatever it may be. And Dan has been producing music for a minute and we were like, 'Oh, let's just smoke a little weed and write a little song.' We would write songs for the fun of it. And we made some pretty raunchy stuff. We had those raunchy Christmas songs, which was one of the first songs we made. Dan came back with a serious beat and we were like, 'All right, let's just try this.' And we just kind of started making music for fun and then we randomly were like, let's see how much it would be to record this and just kind of see where it goes, because it was a lot of fun. After we got past the funny part of it, we were really proud of what we came out with and made. So we just kind of went with the flow, recorded it and we recorded these before the pandemic.
The pandemic was kind of like a pause, but a much-needed pause for some of us. But now we're here where we're at and we have two songs out that we're really proud of.
Sean Gray: I feel like it was more cathartic for us. We would just sit down and talk about our days or kind of random stories and then it would just evolve into writing lyrics down. And, there were a few diss tracks that we made and it was just fun to all sit together and have that time where we would just talk and write and just try and be creative and, instead of roaming around the streets, we'd be inside, just writing and, having fun with each other.
Can you explain the meaning behind the name, OutLoud Boys? How did that come about?
Cameron Cipolla: My aunt was in town in New York and we were out to dinner with her and her husband and we were just talking and we were like, 'we need to think of a new name, blah, blah, blah.' And she was like, 'hmm, what about OutLoud?' And we were just like, okay...
Sean Gray: Yeah.
Cameron Cipolla: We just played with a couple of different [names] and then she really just said it.
Sean Gray: And then at our graduation, the speaker, he said something like, 'live your life out loud,' and we all were just like, 'did you just hear that?'
Daniel Avenu: That was the sign to just keep it.
Describe your sound to someone new, who's just hearing about you, just seeing you on their explore page thanks to the algorithm. How would you describe it to people?
Cameron Cipolla: That's a good question.
Sean Gray: I would say "gay pop disco."
Daniel Avenu: What did we call it? Yeah. We said gay pop before...
Danny: It's like One Direction if they were on poppers.
Who are some of your main influences? Even before you guys started this group together, who were you listening to and who did you stan and who did you grow up listening to and admiring?
Cameron Cipolla: Well, first and foremost, in this house, in this group, we stan Ariana as our queen.
Danny: We have a few mutual Queens.
Cameron Cipolla: We're Barbz.
Sean Gray: Yeah.
Cameron Cipolla: Yeah. A bunch of Barbz
Danny: But I feel like when we were in London, Little Mix was a huge influence us for us. Like as a band, we were like, 'oh my God, they are everything.' And in the US, they're not that big. So when we were over there, we were getting them injected into our veins everywhere we were. We love Little Mix.
Daniel Avenu: I feel like musically we would love to take inspiration from like, Village People...
Cameron Cipolla: And Queen.
Danny: Right now, Lil Nas X is like...I'm obsessed with everything he's doing. All the artists that came before us really.
Sean Gray: I'm a big musical theater queen too. Growing up, especially loved musicals and stuff like that. So that's kind of what got me into music, to begin with. I know Danny loves musicals too.
Danny: We love everyone. Like I'm a huge Swifty and Gaga stan. I don't think there's anyone we really hate, but we all, we all have like bigger queens.
We just talked about all these bunch of names. So can you talk a little about who would you want to dream collaborate with? It could be an artist, a producer. Who would you want to like work with one day and why?
Danny: I think Lil Nas X would be a good one for now. I love him.
Daniel Avenu: Lil Nas X and I think Black Pink.
Cameron Cipolla: Okay but a Nicki feature would just change the game.
Daniel Avenu: We want Nicki to hop on it, a "Convenient" mix.
Producers? Songwriters. Who else?
Daniel Avenu: Producer? I think Mark Ronson.
Danny: I like Max Martin.
Daniel Avenu: And I think we would've loved to work with Sophie. That just would've been amazing.
Danny: Give us our hyper pop.
Cameron Cipolla: Also Dua. We haven't mentioned her at all, but like we love Dua. Play Electricity.
I talk about representation a lot in my work. It's important in all forms across all industries. Do you remember the first time you ever saw yourself either on stage or on the screen represented? And how did it make you feel when you saw that person? Do you remember the first time you ever saw yourself reflected in media?
Daniel Avenu: I remember this was a big one growing up, watching High School Musical. I forget his name. I think his name was...
Daniel Avenu: Ryan! Ryan in High School Musical. I don't think he was even gay in the musical. I don't think they ever said anything but...
Cameron Cipolla: That's a good one.
Sean Gray: I don't dance.
Danny: I came out when I was 13 years old to my brother. I have a twin brother, so I came out when I was 13 to my twin brother and my friends when I was 13. And it was around the same time "Born This Way" came out and it was around the same time that I had saw Darren Criss and Chris Colfer on Glee. And it was definitely Lady Gaga. Aside from having a crush on Prince Eric when I was like two years old and can barely comprehend what a crush was, it was definitely Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" and Darren Criss from Glee.
Cameron Cipolla: I remember Katie Perry's "Firework" music video. She had two guys kissing and I was like, 'whoa, that's legit.' That was cool.
Sean Gray: I think for me, mine was...I was big into the American Idol thing. And I really thought Adam Lambert really pushed the boundaries for me. I was just like, 'okay, people like that do exist and are super talented.' And I think that caught my eye, being a young little kid.
Cameron Cipolla: I mean, growing up and watching all the '90s movies and like Scary Movie and I don't know, a bunch of movies that it was a joke to be gay. Or watching sitcoms where it would be something, I don't count that because that was seeing myself and being like, 'Oh, shit. I can't be gay, blah, blah, blah. I'm going to stay in the closet.' So, seeing a gay person living happily and like it was like not a big deal was definitely like...Glee was probably the biggest for me, watching that in middle school.
On your bio on Instagram, it says "queer boy band." But would you say queerness is a big part of your work? I know there are a lot of LGBTQ+ artists out there who kind of reject being described by their sexuality all the time. They just want to be artists period, not "queer artists." What are your guys' thoughts on that? And how do you navigate marketing yourselves as a queer boy band?
Cameron Cipolla: I mean, I think being queer is such a strong part of all of our identities. And I've had conversations with my dad, who is a great father. Very totally accepting. When I first came out though, he was like, 'Did you move to New York just to be gay?' And I was like, 'Honestly, kind of.' And he was like, 'You shouldn't base your whole life around that,' or something. And I was like, but that is such a strong part of who I am. First and foremost, we are queer. It's what we've been told since we were kids. People called us that before we even knew. And then like now it's like...yeah, that's what we are. I'm proud to be labeled as a queer artist because that's what we want to be for people to see. We are artists, but we are queer artists.
Daniel Avenu: I think we like to call ourselves a queer boy band because I think that's what we want to be for people younger than us to see. Yes, we're a boy band, but we're also something that we've always wanted to see growing up. And now we can finally be ourselves. I feel like that's why it's important to just give the extra nudge of...we're a boy band. Yes. We're also all queer and this is all possible and it doesn't matter what your sexuality. We're just living our lives.
Sean Gray: I feel like for most of my life, going through school and having older brothers and stuff, I pushed myself into the closet even further. So now, being in this queer boy band, I wear that with pride. And I'm like, 'Oh, my younger self would be so happy that I'm doing this and am not scared or embarrassed of it.' So, I think it's important to say.
Back in like the '90s and '00s, when boy bands were peaking, I know a lot of them were subjected gay jokes because I feel, like a lot of things, especially when it comes to men, if they have like a big fan base made up of women, lots of gay jokes are thrown around. You guys are subverting that because you're coming out as a queer boy band. You were never hiding it. You were never in the closet. You just started this project from the get-go like that.
Can you talk about navigating the industry in that way and just being queer from the beginning?
Daniel Avenu: I think it's just important to be authentic and just to be ourselves. I feel like the more honest we are and the more open we are, I think the more we will relate to other people who are queer just like us and who want to listen to queer lyrics and stuff that's just not the regular. And I think just going forward, just the more authentic we can be is just the best. We just want to be ourselves.
Cameron Cipolla: Honestly, there's no hiding it. I walk around with a little baby purse around every day. We're in crop tops and short shorts, limp wrist, nails painted. Even if we didn't want to say we were a queer boy band, it's written all over us.
I know you guys are pretty new, but how has it been putting yourselves out there? Have you gotten any hate or pushback from weirdos? What is it like, because you guys are so open about your sexuality and identity? How has it been received from people so far?
Daniel Avenu: We've really gotten a lot of love. And we get a decent amount of DMs that are really, really special and really, really nice. And it's really awesome to see how we can connect with other queer fans. Sometimes we get hate, but whatever.
Cameron Cipolla: I don't think we've ever gotten hate for being gay. I don't think there's been any homophobic hate necessarily.
Daniel Avenu: I mean, not that we know of.
There are so many out LGBTQ+ artists out there than ever before. Obviously, there's still a long way that needs to go and a lot that needs to be done before we can have true honest, queer representation in music. But what's it like just be to out and open from the beginning and be honest with people from the get-go? There were so many artists back then who had to hide. They were told by their management they had to hide who they were and go in the closet just to have a successful career. But what it's like to start this project and start it as your true selves where so many people in the past didn't get that opportunity?
Daniel Avenu: It's people like them who have helped pave the way to where we can finally be totally out and loud in ourselves. And especially, not even artists, but queer people in general who have been leading us to this point.
Danny: For me, I feel like I'm very unapologetic of who I am. So for me it's like, I don't feel brave for just saying I'm gay from the get-go. It's just who I am. So I don't feel like I'm making a statement. I guess we are essentially, but definitely giving credit to every gay person, artist or not, who came before us, because without them, this would literally have never happened.
Daniel Avenu: Especially the Black trans girlies.
Danny: Yeah. I just feel like we just stay authentic to ourselves and that's just what we've always done. And I don't really ever put to thought like, 'Oh, are people going to hate us for being gay from the get-go for doing this?' I don't think we've ever even had that conversation.
Sean Gray: If they do that's their loss.
Cameron Cipolla: And also we don't have management right now, so we're just like, 'No rules!'
Daniel Avenu: We're so cool together as friends that it just makes it that much easier to...
Danny: Feel confident.
Daniel Avenu: Yeah. Feel confident and enjoy ourselves and have fun with the songs and just to be present in what we're doing and what we're creating.
Danny: And we're not just like a boy band that met through Simon Cowell. We've known each other since we were all eighteen.
Daniel Avenu: We were friends before this all happened.
Danny: We were like baby gays and grew up as adult gays together. Even though we're still so young. We've always had each other. It feels just like a sisterhood. Finally just doing something artsy together and...
Daniel Avenu: And just having fun with it.
Danny: ...something we're all passionate with and at least we have each other. I feel like if it was me solo, I'd be a lot more scared, but I'm glad I have these sisters.
Just to wrap things up, I want each of you to give me your opinions about what the future of music is. What do you hope music will look like? Are you hopeful for it? And we'll use this as like a manifestation hour. Just say what your wildest dream is for your careers and what do you want to accomplish 10, 20 years down the line?
Sean Gray: Arenas. And yeah, I think it's getting more and more power to the artists. People are getting more exposure through social media and finding followings that would be a lot harder in the past. And I think that's really hopeful for new artists like us because, as Cameron said, we don't have a manager, we don't have anything. So we're just having fun with it and making music that feels right for us and that we can relate to and just putting it out and doing it for ourselves and people can relate to that because it's so authentic to us and people have similar experiences being queer and I think it's good because it's more sentimental, the music. It's not just industry babies that get told to sing on this part and that, people have the power to create now. e.
Cameron Cipolla: I have two answers for our future in the music industry, I'm talking worldwide tours, people know our name. I want magazine covers. I want everything. The limit is there is no limit. The limit does not exist for our future in the music industry. But the music industry future as a whole, I think there is literally room for everyone. And I think there's going to be... You're already starting to see so many smaller, like in the past 10 years, I mean there's a hundred, 200, 300 people that make music and are famous for it. Now there are thousands and thousands and so many smaller artists. And everyone is just finding their creative voice and because there's a fan base for everyone out there. Like there are people who are going to dance to your music or cry to your music or sing along in the car to your music. And I want everyone to put it out there and get out in the world because I think there's room for everyone at the top. Like truly.
A seat at the table.
Cameron Cipolla: Exactly. And we want to create more space for people at the top. Like we want to be able to bring people up with us. And obviously, we are very privileged. We are four white men in this world who like, 'Yes, we're gay,' but that doesn't give us any pass as the privilege that we have. And we've recognized that first and foremost and we just want to make sure that we have the opportunity to lift other people's voices up and bring them up with us and collaborate with them and just everyone's going up. If we're going up, everyone's going up with us.
Daniel Avenu: I feel like our biggest goal as a group is to have a large enough platform where we can help other queer artists. Essentially, that's what the goal is, is to help everybody else around us.
Sean Gray: The OutLoud record label.
Cameron Cipolla: And we want to quit our day jobs.
Danny: I feel like the past five years, we've seen artists get big and be big only because they're really talented, but most record labels probably wouldn't even give some of these artists a chance, but because there's this ability to just put out your art and this form of the internet and all these new streaming profiles like there's just more music for everyone to listen to. Regardless of what kind of interests you have, I don't know how to explain it, but...it's just going to get better.
Daniel Avenu: Yeah. It's so much better for artists to be able to do it without help. We can just do things ourselves and I feel like we've seen plenty of artists who have been able to create a platform for themselves, just by themselves and not with help from a manager or a label or whatever. So it's awesome to see how, if you want to do something, you can do it. We can all do what passions are, which is so sick. It opens up so many doors for everybody. And it's just really what you or what we want to do with it.
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