Port Lucian Uses Twitter to Curate ‘Trans Musicians and Allies for Change’ Compilation

Photo Credit: Julia Leiby

We all know that the internet can be a dark, scary place. But sometimes, it can also be a catalyst for beautiful projects that inspire change. Twenty-one year old college junior Portia Maidment (of Port Lucian) harnessed the power of the internet and used it to create a new compilation, Trans Musicians and Allies for Change, out via Ztapes on March 5th. The comp is made up of nineteen different artists from around the world, ranging from an acoustic Diners ode to chilling out, to the watery shoegaze of Floor Cry. All proceeds from the cassette will be donated to Trans Lifeline, a 24-hr hotline dedicated to offering support to trans and gender non-conforming folks.

Maidment, a pre-med student at Case Western Reserve University, was first inspired to make this project after taking a class on transgender literature. “That [class] sort of boosted my interest in transgender rights,” says Maidment. “So, I’m actually applying to medical school so I can eventually perform gender affirming surgeries and things like that.”

If you’re wondering how a pre-med student managed to organize an entire compilation album in the midst of a pandemic, you’re not alone. But Maidment said it was actually pretty easy. “I would hit people up on Twitter and ask if they were interested in this comp,” she says. “That’s honestly how I did the whole thing. A lot of people that are on the comp, I don’t know, but because I had support from a label and a cohesive idea, it just sort of came together.” And the power of the internet prevails.

Maidment’s patchwork approach to choosing the artists is evident in the diversity of sound on the record. Whether it’s an acoustic Joni Mitchell track from Philly indie pop band 2nd Grade or a trademark conversational narrative from Fred Thomas, all of the tracks are either previously unreleased demos or written specifically for it. While all of the songs feel vulnerable and personal, some speak specifically to the transgender experience.

Toronto-based indie group Little Kid explores the importance of defining your own identity in “What’s in a Name?” In the most gentle of voices, singer and multi-instrumentalist Kenny Boothby distills the emotional fallout that can occur after a person chooses to change their name. “Oh babe, what’s in a name?/Grew tired of the one that your parents gave/They heard that you wanted to change it like trumpets on judgment day.” Many transgender and non-binary folks experience pushback from friends and family members when announcing their name change, making the transition harder than it needs to be. Aside from the administrative cost of a name change – ranging from $150-$450 – the emotional cost can be huge. Having to remind your friends, family and strangers of your new name over and over again can be emotionally exhausting and invalidate your identity.

Boothby goes on to support the sentiment that these type of dismissive of reactions usually have nothing to do with the person they’re directed at, but rather, a deep-rooted resistance to change or anything outside of what they know. He sings, “Guess they still don’t know how to behave when they can’t place you anywhere.” The song is a validating, soothing reflection on affirming your identity, and an ever so tender fuck off to those who don’t respect it.

Unfortunately, the theme of people not respecting transgender or gender non-conforming folks’ pronouns, identities and safety is a global epidemic. This threat to safety and selfhood can undoubtedly drive people into dark places. And while organizations like Trans Lifeline are an amazing resource for folks that are struggling, sometimes it’s extremely difficult to take the first step in reaching out. In their song “Are You Doing Alright?” Kennedy Freeman of Highnoon addresses anxiety and depression and encourages listeners to reach out to their friends. Freeman says they wrote the song in December, a time when they were especially feeling the effects of being isolated during lockdown.

Although they tried recording the song a few different ways, they say that a voice recording felt the most natural. “Phone audio can feel really familiar and comforting in a way for me too,” says Freeman. “I wanted it to feel like a close friend reaching out leaving a message or something.” The feeling definitely comes across and feels poignant to this project in particular. “This song felt applicable to the compilation,” says Freeman, “specifically the idea of a lifeline people can access when they’re struggling and how important queer friendships and mutual support can be to gender non-conforming people.”

Much like the community it aims to support, Trans Musicians and Allies for Change is colorful, varied, and refuses to fit in any one box or description. The funds from this compilation will go straight to Trans Lifeline, where they will be used to provide direct emotional and financial support to trans people in crisis. Grab yourself a copy – today is Bandcamp Friday, so the streaming platform is waiving their revenue share – and proceed to listen in awe.

You can reach Trans Lifeline at US (877) 565-8860 or Canada (877) 330-6366. The number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 800-273-8255

RSVP HERE: Pom Pom Squad Livestream via LongNeckLass Twitch + MORE

When Mia Berrin was only 15, she saw a sweatshirt emblazoned with the words “Pom Pom Squad” and the name stuck with her as she began to write songs during her senior year of high school in Orlando, Florida. Now a staple of the Brooklyn scene, Berrin’s band Pom Pom Squad is filled out by Mari Alé Figeman on bass, 

Shelby Keller on drums

, and Alex Mercuri on lead guitar. Contrary to the classic image of a cheerleading squad, Berrin’s squad is a vehicle for emotionally charged grunge anthems that release inner demons and rush toward radical self-acceptance, as seen on their two EPs Hate It Here and Ow. They also explore the softer side of alternative in their 2020 Valentine’s Day single “Red with Love” and recently released cover of “Crimson + Clover.”

You can catch Berrin performing a stripped down set on LongNeckLass’ Twitch tonight at 7pm EST alongside 2nd Grade, Baseball Dad and Lisa Prank. They also have the best Bandcamp limited-edition merch items including a summer squad uniform and a long sleeve “Internet Tour” shirt (which we all seem to be on these days). We chatted with Berrin about the making of Pom Pom Squad’s recent music videos, the creative community’s role in BLM and her dream writing location.

AF: I love both music videos you’ve released in 2020- “Red with Love” and “Crimson + Clover.” How did they differ in terms of recording and filming? What do these tracks mean to you?

MB: Thank you! Red With Love was pre-quarantine – it was recorded as a full band and the music video was filmed at the (now defunct), The Dance with a big group of fans and friends. It’s weird that filming in a crowd seems like such a novelty now! “Crimson + Clover” was basically the opposite. I recorded it alone and filmed the video with my partner using only stuff we already had in the apartment. Both songs are about ~love~ but are stylistically really different. I think Crimson is a little bit of a sneak preview of where my brain has been lately.

AF: Now that it’s uncertain when we’ll be able to play shows in NYC again, has your relationship with the city changed and how do you imagine the creative community in Brooklyn evolving?

MB: My relationship with the city has changed in that I barely leave my house and have very little desire to. To be honest, I didn’t have much of a desire before, but my anxiety has gotten a lot worse. Brooklyn is so overwhelming to begin with that I didn’t really feel like I had the opportunity to finish thoughts! Having a lot of time on my hands has made it a lot easier to write though. I feel like maybe the creative community will evolve in that there isn’t much room for comparison anymore – playing the show circuit here makes you really aware of what everyone else is doing and what’s “trendy”. It feels good to be isolated in that I can hear my own instincts more clearly.

AF: Has the COVID lockdown and current social justice movement changed and/or fueled your creative process in any way?

MB: Absolutely. I think it’s really hard not to be angry and hurt right now, so I’ve been writing from that place recently. It also makes me feel a need to escape through my music, so I’ve been rebuilding my world sonically and giving myself a place to rest that’s separate from everything else. I think on the other side of the coin, this moment in time also makes it really, really hard to write, or get out of bed.

AF: What are your thoughts on the creative community’s role in the BLM movement and how do you think we can use our platforms in the most effective way?

MB: From my own experience, I’ve been using my platform to try to spread information and as a starting point for research. I think especially in this moment, it’s important to step back and try to learn about what’s happening in front of you. Art and artists can be huge catalysts for change and can encourage people to shift their perspectives.

AF: I saw in a previous interview that you write best when you’re as far away from NYC as possible. What would your dream writing/recording space be outside of the city?

MB: Basically the Jayne Mansfield Mansion, but with a meadow or a view of the mountains outside. Somewhere extremely kitschy and unnecessarily lavish.

AF: What can we expect from your livestream tonight?

MB: A pretty stripped down version of some of the songs from our last EP, Ow, and maybe some new stuff I’ve been working on ;-)

AF: What are your plans for the rest of 2020 + beyond?

MB: Staying safe and working on a big project I am very, very excited about!!

RSVP HERE for Pom Pom Squad 8/14 via LongNeckLass Twitch 7pm EST w/ 2nd Grade, Baseball Dad and Lisa Prank.

More great live streams this week…

8/14 Best Coast (Crazy For You 10 Year Anniversary Party) via Seated. 9pm EST, $10, RSVP HERE

8/14 ..And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead via their website. 9pm EST, $9, RSVP HERE

8/14 The War on Drugs, Robin Pecknold of Fleet Foxes, Daniel Rossen of Grizzly Bear, Kyp Malone of TV on the Radio, Waxahatchee and more via Vote Ready. 7pm EST, FREE, RSVP HERE 

8/14- 8/16 Allen Stone, Ben Gibbard of Death Cab For Cutie, Los Lobos, Gangstagrass, Shakey Graves, and more via Philadelphia Folk Festival 12pm EST, $75 +, RSVP HERE 

8/16 What Now: An Antiracist Teach-In with Ibram X. Kendi and Isabel Wilkerson 8pm EST, $50, RSVP HERE

8/17 2020 Ain’t Canceled: August Intersectionality Series via Zoom. 8pm EST, RSVP HERE

8/18 Serpentwithfeet via YouTube / KEXP at Home. 3pm EST, RSVP HERE

8/19 Thursday, Cursive, And So I Watch You From Afar via Youtube. 6pm EST, RSVP HERE