Exclusive Interview: Transgender Artist Hipster Conspiracy Speaks Up As She Releases Her Debut Album Dysphoria

Hi Hipster Conspiracy, hope you are well and healthy! How are you handling the past six months, and the lockdown? How have you been using your time?

Hi there! Thanks for reaching out for an interview. I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that 2020 so far has been full of challenges. I feel tension everywhere and I have to wonder where this is all headed. I’ve been focusing on self care, personal development, and my relationships. As I mention on my album, I’m no stranger to life as a shut in. The major difference this time around is that I’m in a much better place emotionally/mentally. I think that has put me in a better position to handle this situation and support my loved ones. I’m not gonna lie though – I can’t wait for this to be over.

We loved Dysphoria in every way, please tell us more about your new record, what it means to you and how it came to life?

Thank you so much! I can’t tell you how good it feels that you would take the time to listen to my work – let alone enjoy it. This album is the best representation to date of everything I am as a musician and a person. I started work on it in the summer of 2016 shortly after finishing my last LP. You might not believe it but Dysphoria is actually my 12th project since I started my solo career in 2010. One of the main reasons this album took so damn long to finish was because I was honing my bars and flow. Hip hop wasnt new to me, in my teens I got into mostly older east coast stuff like Gangstarr and Tribe called quest – but I never aspired to be a rapper or anything. After moving to LA I got exposed to the likes of kendrick lamar, childish gambino, and logic. I was blown away by their creativity and technical prowess. I could hear the influence of the classic artists I loved combined with all these amazing new sounds and concepts. It was everything I had been missing from music.

So I started rapping. A lot. Like every day. Rapping, writing, making beats. When I got burnt out I’d watch cult movies or listen to different classic and progressive albums on repeat, trying to figure it out. Meanwhile my life was falling apart. I struggled and channeled that pain into the music. During that period I put out half a dozen mixtapes and EPs but I was always saving the best stuff for the next album. I was writing my way through the darkest nights, meanwhile doing underground rap shows around LA and generally making a fool of myself.


The album went through several stages of development before reaching its final form. For a while, I couldn’t even decide if I was going to rap on it or not. Originally it was to be the sequel to a garage rock album I released in 2015, and later another concept album to follow up my 2017 experimental hip hop tape, but in the end it was my transition that would dominate the narrative of my most recent project. To be honest, once that direction materialized, finishing the album became a simple matter of time and effort. I produced something like 5-6x the music that I needed for the final 11 tracks. I performed or programmed all the instruments: there are no samples or premade loops outside of a small handful of FX and clips from movies and public TV. OK fine maybe a shaker or two.. but otherwise it’s all me. I mixed the record at home and recorded with the help of my friend, the Hi Fi Kid’s studio in Long Beach, CA. The album was mastered by my friend Mike Wells in LA and features three amazing solo artists (two rappers Aura and Theboywhocriedterps and lead guitarist Rory Matthews) who I cant wait to work with again. One fun point of interest is that while I wrote most of the songs within the past 4 years, I

wrote “Boom” in 2009 for my old band but never finished it. I think its worth pointing that out because it shows how you never truly know the use of today’s random inspiration!

How would you describe your musical style?

Fried chicken. Sorry, old joke. I’m a fusion artist so that’s a tough question to answer. I do not limit myself to a particular genre in my hunt for the perfect recipe. Still, I seek to develop patterns and methods even when there aren’t really rules to follow or examples to draw upon. I like music that carries the edge of authenticity. In my art I extract the most raw unfiltered version of myself and then feed it through this crazy psychedelic space synthesizer. It’s messy and fun to leave the listener with the same half-answered questions that keep me up at night.

Who are the artists that have shaped your artistry, past and present?

John Coltrane, Gorillaz, MF DOOM, and Beck all immediately come to mind at least for the older stuff. Modern artists include those previously mentioned along with flume, anderson .paak, alabama shakes, eevee, clams casino, a$ap, cole, drizzy, grimes, vince staples, earl, tyler, and more recently teyana taylor and kali uchis

Where do you find your inspiration and please share with us how your creative process takes place?

I’d like to say I take inspiration from all aspects of life and that I have a tightly honed grip on my creative process. The truth is that, like many artists, I’m not always as in control of that spark as I would like to be. New ideas can come a bit randomly and I often feel pulled in different directions. Maybe I’m listening to a lot of tool and black keys so I want to make progressive rock, but then the next week its mick jenkins and rhapsody. I’ll be just sitting down to work on some boom bap and wind up aping RL Grime. Sometimes i just grab my guitar and see where it takes me. I think the most important thing is consistency. It doesn’t matter to me ​what ​I’m doing, so long as it’s music related and somehow helping me grow artistically.

I will often write lyrics when I’m upset. This has proven to be a powerful tool for self reflection and i find it to be quite meditative. i have pages and pages of lyrics for songs i will probably never release. Sometimes I struggle to find the right music for the lyrics written in this freeform fashion and so i do my best to write “to the beat” whenever it makes sense. Most of the lyrics on dysphoria were originally written separately from the beats and so I had to spend a ton of time fine tuning them to get them right. To be honest i still hear things i could have done better or differently, but something something never finished only abandoned, i guess.

What is one experience in life that, without it, you wouldn’t be the artist you are today?

This is really tough to say cause I’ve been through it a few times. It might seem obvious that coming out as a trans woman has forever shaped my life and artistry, and i won’t deny that’s true. For years I was haunted by a demon i could not identify or understand. Self loathing was eating me alive and it left me feeling like a hollow shell of a person. That was reflected in my music as well. When i go back and listen to those old recordings i can hear this tone in my voice that i dont like. It reminds me of thwt feeling of being trapped in a cage.

You have shared your story as a transgender artist, but few people really know what it means to live that experience, even in 2020, could you please tell us more about your difficulties accepting your identity or having it accepted by others?

Another tough question, this time because it’s hard to open up about many of these experiences. Transitioning for me 100% started within, by peeling back layers of shame and transphobia i never asked for to begin with. It took years and a mountain of evidence to even get to the point of accepting it for myself. I tried to convince myself of every excuse too. Sadly this came to a head in some very dark moments i’d rather not go in to at this time.

In the end, i had a decision to make and I chose my happiness. So began the journey of getting the rest of the world to see me for my true self. I have experienced every form of reacton, from loving/accepting to cruel/hostile. But since i have the microphone I would take this moment to say to anyone with any doubts or questions about who i am:

I am a binary trans woman, meaning my pronouns are she/her and I identify as female. I have gender dysphoria that sometimes makes it difficult for me to function in the world, but i am taking steps to treat it and live a more complete happy life. To be transgender is not to be mentally ill. You do not have to experience gender dysphoria to be trans. Transgender is not a sexual preference. Trans women are women, and trans men are men. And don’t forget the nonbinary folks! Yes it can be a lot to take in. No that is not an excuse. Please educate yourselves. We are not going anywhere!

How do you juggle being a composer, singer-songwriter, rapper, and a multi-instrumentalist? And are you more of a recording artist or a live performer? And why?

It can be a lot! One of the hardest parts is finding time and energy to maintain so many different skills. I often feel like a jane-of-all-trades, so to speak. In order to keep things somewhat organized I tend to break up my workflow into sections. So if I’m working on a project I might do guitar for a few sessions and then switch to saxophone, then spend a while messing with the drums, etc..

My background is in live performance, however as I progressed in my solo career it was much easier to do show mixes than organize band practice. I’ve gotten used to performing with a DJ or off of my phone. Occasionally I will be my own DJ for a little added flair. I would love to perform with live musicians but it’s just not practical at the moment. In general i very much enjoy doing shows and always have, probably as much as i enjoy the creative process of working in the studio. Really i love everything about being a musician and hope im able to have a good go at doing this professionally.

-Do you think the music industry will change post-covid 19, and do you have any upcoming projects you would like to share with us?

I think the business is already changing and not completely for the better. The independent/local/underground side of music, in particular live music, was already in a sorry state before the pandemic. Now we have historic bars, venues, and creative spaces shutting down at a record pace and it’s only accelerating the process that was already ongoing.

On the flip side, things are decentralizing fast and my bet is it’s a great time for an independent artist like me to find a niche. I had mixed feelings about releasing my album when I did, in the midst of the George Floyd riots. My hope is that the message is uplifting for those that hear it. I only want to spread love and justice for all peoples. We need more music in the mainstream promoting positive introspection, self respect/self worth, and tolerance.

I’m currently working on a music video for one of my favorite tracks on the record! I’m very excited to be sharing that once it’s complete, likely by the early fall. I’m also sitting on a pile of ideas so there will probably be some rough cuts floating around this year.

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