All good things happen in June. The delicious beginning of summer, and Pride, a time for parades, parties, and all pleasures of the highest order.
Here at NYLON, we’re celebrating the month by sharing 19 of our favorite rising queer artists, who are telling moving stories about their own identities and journeys and, really, just making good ass music to get down to. From Cookie Kawaii’s bed- and booty-shaking Jersey club anthems, to Adult Mom’s searing indie rock for the more introspective moments — these are the musicians you should be listening to for Pride, and always.
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From the first two lines of Adult Mom's single "Sober," it was clear that Driver was going to be a strong contender for best album of the year — and the March release didn't disappoint, touching upon the varying after-effects of a breakup, sparing no detail.
What is your favorite LGBTQ+ moment in pop culture history? “There are so many, but the 1993 Vanity Fair photoshoot with K.D. Lang and Cindy Crawford is endlessly incredible to me. The photo itself is timeless and gorgeous, and the impact that it had is wild. I know that it angered a sh*t-ton of people, which is important, because I think it ended up changing a lot of people's feelings about lesbians and lesbian imagery. I mean, the photo is of Cindy Crawford shaving the face and armpits of K.D. Lang while K.D. holds Cindy's thighs. It's hot and a beautiful display of gender play and I love it!
What is your prediction for song of summer? “Brutal” by Olivia Rodrigo.
Allison Ponthier may only have two solo songs out at the moment, but they are vivid, startling pieces of storytelling about her experience growing up in a small Texan town coming to terms with her queer identity. Their sparkling country sound and windswept spirit is just the cherry on the top.
What are your plans for Pride this year? My plans are:
- Keep writing gay songs
- Do karaoke with my friends
- Watch Jennifer’s Body 20 times
What is your prediction for song of summer? Ashnikko “Slumber Party” is going to be even more huge than it already is. It is perpetually stuck in my head and I would die for her.
New York City’s Boyish is made up of musicians and friends India Shore and Claire Altendahl. Together, they craft hazy and romantic bedroom pop, a sound that blossomed from Shore’s childhood of obsessing over Lorde, and Altendahl’s playing in a band with her dad. “I was a dancer and a gymnast for most of my life and then I got injured and had to stop,” Shore says. “I was searching for something else to do and I heard Lorde and just wanted to be her.” “My dad played in a band while I was growing up and it was always my biggest goal to be the drummer for him,” Altendahl adds. “Except I play guitar now.”
What is your favorite LGBTQ+ moment in pop culture history?
Shore: This was a really hard question to answer, but honestly, the Sasha Velour versus Shea Couleé lip sync in the finale of Drag Race. I think about it every day and for some reason it makes me cry.
Altendahl: I grew up playing a lot of tennis for some reason and I love the story about Billie Jean King kicking Bobby Riggs’ ass in the Battle of the Sexes tennis match. Bobby Riggs was a self-proclaimed male chauvinist and said he could beat any woman tennis player, so watching the footage of her winning is so badass. She was also one of the first female athletes to come out and I have always looked up to her.
Toronto-based rapper and DJ Chippy Nonstop knows how to get a party going. Whether it’s blaring club tracks to get you hyped or something mellow and wavy to soundtrack the comedown, Chippy Nonstop brings it full force.
What is your favorite LGBTQ+ moment in pop culture history? Colton Underwood from The Bachelor coming out as gay. Just kidding! I would probably say Madonna: Truth or Dare. It's cliche, but iconic.
What is your prediction for song of summer? Well, my songs for my DJ sets this summer are the Lobsta B “Toxic” Remix and LSDXOXO "Sick Bitch."
Dynamic pop storyteller Vincint released his infectious debut album, There Will Be Tears, appropriately for this Pride month, but his influence and buzz have been building for years as he’s lit up stages around the world. Vincint’s song “Higher” featuring Alex Newell and Princess Precious is “euphoric and a true banger,” as he says, and already a contender for song of the summer.
What are your plans for Pride this year? My plans are a bit hectic. I’ll be playing a bunch of Prides so travel is at the top! But I mostly plan on meeting and hugging everyone I can. I’ve missed the world so much and getting to be back with my people is the ultimate joy!
Artist Chloe Moriondo, 18, may be an “internet kid” like many of her peers, but her music has already reached new heights beyond the DIY world she started in. With her major-label debut album, Blood Bunny, arriving May 7, it’s time to pay attention.
What are your plans for Pride this year? I will be being very lesbian and hot hopefully.
The force behind the bed-squeaking bop “Vibe” and one of TikTok’s earliest viral stars, Jersey club DJ Cookie Kawaii has been honing her craft since she was little; knowing how to lay down a vibe is in her blood: “Music has always been a part of my life since I was younger with my parents being DJs, but I started making music around 2011,” she says. “I’ve been writing poetry since I was younger so I decided to put my poems to beats after high school.”
What is your favorite LGBTQ+ moment in pop culture history? There’s a lot of favorite LGBTQ + moments especially when talking about Lil Nas X lol but if I had to pick one ... probably when Miley Cyrus performed at the VMAs and brought out some of the iconic Queens from Ru Paul’s Drag Race to perform with her. I love everything about Drag Race so I remember seeing that and just being so happy.
Don't underestimate the sweetness of Dorothy Miranda Clark’s voice. In songs like "cool girl" and album standout "Hate Myself," Clark, aka dodie, explores quiet moments of self-doubt in searing detail that will stay with you long after the track ends.
What is your favorite LGBTQ+ moment in pop culture history? Katy Perry’s "I Kissed a Girl" really opened a door for me in terms of starting to explore my sexuality. Even if just that the topic of it was brought to light in school as not something horrendous.
What are your plans for Pride this year? You know, I’ve always wanted to bake a rainbow cake. But it’s impossible to find sprinkles bright enough in the U.K.! I want more color! Also probably watching Portrait Of A Lady On Fire for the sixth time.
At just 17 years old, Evann McIntosh has already developed a loyal fan base for their soulful take on modern pop and R&B. Following success on TikTok, the songwriter self-released their own debut album, to soon be followed by new record Character Development, out Aug. 27.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a musician? I can’t remember the first time I knew, because I always knew I really wanted to be a musician and I couldn’t see myself doing anything else. I think one time I never knew I could want to more, was when I saw Bruno Mars in concert during the Moonshine Jungle Tour. Seeing him perform and do his thing, I knew that was what I wanted to do, be just like that.
If you’re looking for punchy bedroom pop, it’s all about Fanclubwallet. Full of melodrama, nostalgia, and just straight charm, Fanclubwallet’s Hannah Judge does it all with a wink.
What is your favorite LGBTQ+ moment in pop culture history? I’m not sure there's a specific moment, but I remember being very excited when I’d find out some of my favorite TV characters were queer as a kid. Like when Willow started dating Tara in Buffy The Vampire Slayer I was pretty stoked.
TikTok smiled on Frances Garrett, aka Francis Forever, when their track “space girl” exploded on the app. They’re far from a one-hit wonder, with rich vocals and a knack for emotional songwriting that will easily worm its way into your heart.
What are your plans for Pride this year? My plan for Pride is learning more about our history (that I didn't get taught in high school) and spreading as much love as possible.
An alt-pop artist, activist, actor and filmmaker, Jayli Wolf is a multitalented, multifaceted artist with a story to tell, and a message of hope and resilience for Indigenous youth. Her groundbreaking debut, “Child Of the Government,” will be followed up with EP Wild Whisper, due out June 18.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a musician? When I left the cult that I was raised in, that's when I really decided to go for it. I feel like I’ve always known and always wanted to be a musician but I suppressed it. Within the Jehovah's Witness religion and my mother's family, I believed that it just wasn’t in the cards or possible for me. Looking back though, I was always humming, making music with whatever I had. Escaping into sound.
There aren’t many frills to Joy Oladokun’s folk music but that doesn’t mean her songs, which capture the quieter moments of life with a frank honesty, don’t still sear to the core. Especially “Jordan,” a love song that’s also about redemption.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a musician? I realized I wanted to be a musician when I was 10 years old. I was sitting in this TV room that we had in the back of our house, my dad had recorded all these concert videos and music videos and one was of Tracy Chapman singing at Wembley for Nelson Mandela’s 70th birthday. It was the first time I’d seen a Black woman playing the guitar. I grew up in a farming town, there was a lot of country and folk music, and I’d had my own experiences with music in different genres at home, but it was really powerful to see a tool that I had only seen in the hands of people who don’t look like me to be used by someone who looks like me.
Kezia’s party-ready anthems — whether a desperately horny bop called “megan fox” or a song about sucking… you know what — stem from a surprising origin: the guitar. “Once I learned how to play guitar it was a wrap,” the Bay Area musician says. “The summer from fifth grade into middle school I wrote songs every day while my family and I lived in Germany. I haven’t stopped writing since.”
What is your favorite LGBTQ+ moment in pop culture history? When Frank [Ocean] came back from his hiatus and dropped Blonde.... it was truly a moment in time. The world stops when he steps out, and every time I revisit Blonde I find something new to love, something I didn’t quite get at first. Every listen is a rediscovery.
You might be familiar with her as the chef emoji on the laugh-out-loud Instagram meme account @patiasfantasyworld, but get ready to know River Moon as your new favorite DJ and performer. Take her track “THE RAVE PRINCESS,” for instance — a cheeky ode to raves with a beat so filthy that it’ll turn any room into an all-out freak-fest.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a musician? I knew I wanted to be a musician when I heard M.I.A.’s Kala album when I was 8 or 9. I don’t have many memories before 15, but I do remember the first time I heard that album. In the days of dial-up internet and Limewire, that album took two days to download. I just wanted to hear “Paper Planes,” but as soon as I hit play on Track 1, “Bamboo Banga”… I just knew. I never heard anything like it. I don’t think a day goes by from that day, til now where I don’t play at least one song from that album. It sparked something in me. I wanted to make music just like that!
Sam Buck’s last album came out in 2018, but the Los Angeles musician’s electrifying country — theatrical, unconventional, and playful — still sounds fresh.
What are your plans for PRIDE this year? I was just visiting New York for the first time post pandemic and now I’m actually gonna go back to my cabin in Topanga, close the curtains and be hungover for a month and finish my album. I think it’s actually very LGBTQ+ to be too hungover or late to attend Pride.
What is your prediction for song of summer? My song of the summer is definitely “Free” by Deniece Williams, and while I highly recommend and find it extremely relatable to a post pandemic summer…. I don't know if this track from 1976 is gonna top the charts right now, though crazier things have happened. I do have to say I think its impressive how much an insanely sad and meandering song like [Lana Del Rey’s] “Blue Banisters” seems to be resonating with the gay guys of New York City. I was at Julius with some friends last week and multiple times we were just blasting it through a little bluetooth speaker, head banging.
One of this year's most honest — and heartbreaking, and hilarious — musical moments came earlier this year with the release of Semler's Preacher’s Kid, a tight, but no less impactful sophomore album chronicling singer Grace Semler Baldridge's personal experiences as a queer musician. "My Dad is an Episcopal priest and he used to take me to Christian music conferences in Nashville when I was little," Baldridge says. "We would bop around to showcases and panels. The whole thing felt very glamorous and interesting to me. I really looked up to those artists and would imagine myself on stage with them. Soon after, I started writing songs of my own. They were all very bad."
What are your plans for Pride this year? For Pride this year my wife and I are going to have some friends over to drink, eat breakfast, and dance around my yard. Now that I'm vaccinated I just want to eat a biscuit and listen to Cher with loved ones.
Siena Liggins’ debut album, Ms. Out Tonight — which includes stunning visuals for each track — brings a highly creative take on the already innovative genre of queer pop. “Girlfriend,” which Liggins co-wrote with Jesse Saint John “with an epic lesbian slumber party in mind,” is a perfect example of the artist’s charismatic point of view and potent sound.
When did you realize you wanted to be a musician? I’ve always known I wanted to be a writer and storyteller, but I was 11 when I recorded my first song about self-love and confidence and from there, there was no turning back. My dad would always push me to connect with my music and to master and embody my lyrics, and that began my journey of becoming a student of music and ultimately was how I found my sound in all of this.
Singer and producer Tiberius b is all about catharsis. It’s pop music at its most raw — playful, tender, and totally electrifying.
What is your prediction for song of summer? “Sink In” by Tirzah will be soundtracking all my bike rides to and from anything that happens this summer. That song makes me feel like I got gifted a special superpower to be able to see the love in everything there is as sparkly green bioluminescent light. The music video for it is the best ever and gives me wet, wet eyes.