Diplo pays respect to queer artists for changing the way music exists: ‘It’s challenging for straight men’
DJ and music producer Diplo has paid tribute to the “fearlessness” of queer musicians through the ages, whose risk-taking has “changed the way that music exists”.
Joined by his friend and country music star Orville Peck, they explored the intersection of music and sexuality, and – topically – how isolation has fuelled their creativity.
“It’s always been the queer artists that have changed the way music exists. The original guys who were creating hip-hop were queer,” Diplo noted.
“House music, Baltimore Club, New Orleans bounce music – every time there’s a genre that falls out of nothing, it’s always been kind of like the queer scene that created that. It’s always been in the underground.”
He nodded to Madonna’s Vogue which was inspired by Harlem’s ballroom scene and showed “respect and love” to that culture, but said that “it’s always been the queer community who have to scratch it out of nothing”.
“I think that’s back to the fearlessness because when you have that energy – the masculine energy, the feminine – you’re taking all the risks because there’s nothing to lose,” he said.
“I think it might be challenging for some straight men, but for queer artists it’s kind of second nature. They’re able to go wherever they want and, like I said, there’s no walls.”
Orville Peck touched on the “stigma” of queerness that country music pushes, which seems unfounded given that the genre is directed at minorities who “feel somehow alienated”.
“I’m surprised more gay people don’t feel connected to country music,” he said.
“The thing that I connected with country music when I was a kid is it’s about isolation, heartbreak, disappointment. That’s the gay experience for everyone at some point. I feel like that music is written for people who feel like the minority or feel somehow alienated.
“Somehow the stigma got twisted around where it’s like, oh this music is for well-adjusted, straight white men or whatever. And I actually disagree. I think that it’s meant to be for people who feel like freaks.”
Diplo and Orville Peck struck up a “strange bromance” after sliding into each other’s DMs last year. In January the pair walked the Grammys red carpet in matching cowboy ensembles, and they’re now working on a musical collaboration together.
“When I saw him pushing the envelope, I was like, ‘Damn, I love that.’ He forced his way in. Now, everybody is paying attention,” Diplo said of his friend.
Orville Peck added: “The thing I really like about Wes is his sense of humour. My kind of sense of humour is pretty silly. And I think Wes is similar. We’re usually making fun of pop culture or things like that.”