‘Ask me who I’m with, I’m with THEM”
THEM by Flavia is a sexy, inspiring, and purposeful pop song that’s released this month. Who is Flavia? How did this all get started and produced? We got to FaceTime her from her place in LA and talk about what this project meant to her to create.
Good morning Flavia, what a great music video! Could you tell us We about the inspiration behind THEM and what caused you to work with this community?
“The song, THEM, was inspired by a specific romance I had with a trans-masculine person, but the video’s intentions were to visually illustrate an inclusive picture of the entire trans/gender nonconforming/non-binary community. Through my relationship with this person, my eyes were opened up to how little I knew about the trans community beyond the surface. I became so much more aware of how underrepresented they were in popular media and that I wanted to help change that. I’m very grateful for my time and experiences with this person, as I learned through their openness and my own new seeing how powerful language truly is, and how impactful a word choice can be for someone. Whether it’s delineating between the use of ‘chest’ instead of ‘breasts’, or using someone’s correct pronouns, it can be the tiniest shift in our language that makes someone feel seen, validated and respected.”
I wanted to use my voice and my power as a creative person in the LGBTQ+ community to be a better ally. But as a cisgender female, it was important that I was sensitive not to speak for a community that I myself am not a part of, but instead made my goal to elevate the voices of the trans/GNC/nb community to let them shine and represent themselves. The T in LGBTQ+ is so often wildly under/mis-represented in media, therefore I wanted to use my platform as an artist to shed light and help raise awareness for trans rights. It is so important that cis allies support and help lift up the gender nonconforming communities that haven’t been afforded the same opportunities as binary folks. It’s with strength in numbers, and using our own resources to help others, that we can truly make a change.
You said Pop with a Purpose once during our call, you’ve had other pieces that dealt with a strong advocacy topic, can you tell us about that?
I think music has the power to change the world, and I feel like my purpose on this earth is to “heal your heart with my pain”. I feel lucky enough to have music and my art as an outlet to deal with and process my emotions, and I want to use that to strengthen and heal others around me. When I create music, it’s really important for me to make art that positively impacts people, that can bring us all closer together, even from a distance. All my songs have a cause behind them that is important to me, bottled into a fun, relatable pop song. My first single, “Hateful”, was accompanied by an anti-bullying, #BeKind campaign, “Gotta Let You Go” was in support of addiction and mental health awareness, “Til I Die” was my coming out publicly as Queer on Billboard Pride, “Does She Like It Rough?” was addressing my being polyamorous and talking about alternative relationship lifestyles, and of course “Them” is in support of trans rights and the GNC community.
These are all incredible and really well produced. As we know here at FTM that definitely takes a team effort, is there anyone you’d like to give props/credit to here?
Basil Mironer, owner of Mirage Studio, directed Them, as well as several other videos and creative projects that we’ve done together. Having been creative collaborators for the last 5 years on everything from music videos and single covers, to visual projections during my live show, there’s definitely an artistic magic between us. He is incredibly brilliant and talented, and after hearing his initial concept idea for the “Them” video, and I was immediately stunned and on board. It just made sense and I am so lucky to have had his brain and talents to collaborate with once again, this time for our most important project together to date.
Given that I’m an independent artist with small budgets to execute our big ideas, I feel so grateful for our wildly talented artist community. We all come through for each other’s projects and pool resources to make the near-impossible happen and somehow bring our very ambitious ideas to life every time. I’m always impressed.
You said you had some reactions from those involved, and similar feedback on the final product / What has been the overall response?
I knew I had something special with this song, I could feel it. It felt powerful and I was excited to release a positive piece of art for the trans community, and to the world. But I don’t think I could have ever predicted people’s reactions, and appreciation for the song. I was so moved, it brought me to tears. So many people expressed that they’d never heard themselves in a song, or seen themselves represented in the media, they’d never been in a room with that many likeminded trans/GNC/NB folks, they’d never felt sexy or desirable because of a song. We had people drive to LA from San Francisco and San Diego to be a part of this and I’m just so overjoyed and grateful to all the incredible humans that helped make this the impactful piece that it is.
I knew I had something special with this song, I could feel it. It felt powerful in its own way, and I was excited to release a trans positive piece of art into the world. But I don’t think I could have ever predicted people’s reactions and appreciation for the song. I was so moved, it brought me to tears. So many different folks expressed that they’d never heard themselves in a song like this before, or seen themselves represented in the media in this way, or they’d never felt sexy or desirable because of a song. On the day of the video shoot, some told me they’d never been in a room with that many like-minded trans/GNC/NB folks at once, and even had a few people drive to LA from San Francisco and San Diego just for the day to be a part of this project. I’m just so overjoyed and grateful to all the incredible humans that helped make this the impactful piece that it is.
Was there particular feedback that stood out to you?
Someone told me that if they’d seen this video when they were a kid growing up, their life would have looked a whole lot different. And that there were kids out there that needed to see this… That was pretty powerful to hear.
What reactions do you anticipate as the video goes live?
My hope is that even just one person will connect with this song/video and feel seen, understood, loved, or less alone because of it. We all deserve to feel seen and celebrated for exactly who we are.
What went into collecting and scheduling so many GNC folks in one place?
Wow. My entire life for 3 weeks went into producing this video. Given that we were only a small team producing this (myself, Basil, and Kai Wes – a trans/NB producer, actor and trans activist), we had our work cut out for us. I did most of my casting through social media, and asking friends of friends of friends, word of mouth. But we also worked with LA-based Transgender Talent Agency and the Los Angeles LGBTQ center were extremely helpful in connecting me with additional talent. Bringing almost 50 of the most diverse, beautiful humans together into a room and creating a safe space and sense of community was a magical feeling, and shooting the day of was an incredibly profound experience for me. I am truly grateful for all the people that came together to make this video possible.
Tell us about the docuseries featuring several of the people depicted
In addition to the single and accompanying music video, we will be releasing a short documentary also titled “Them” in April. Knowing how complex and nuanced these topics can be, we wanted to celebrate the stories of these trans/NB/GNC individuals we were so privileged to work with and help educate the world on certain issues pertaining to their community including: how to be a better cis ally, how to navigate your own gender fluidity, and highlighting how beautifully diverse gender identity can be.
With the virus, a ton of events have to be canceled or postponed- There was an event for the release, can you tell us about that?
Prior to 2020 pressing pause on the year, I had been coordinating a release party event featuring various trans/NB/GNC musicians, performers, dancers, poets, designers, artists and creatives of all kinds. The goal was to bring a ton of creatives in this community together to then raise money for a trans rights organizations, as well as to premiere the song with a live performance and releasing the video for the first time. Unfortunately, due to the apocalypse, that won’t be happening now BUT we do still plan to have the event as soon as we’re out of quarantine life. In the meantime, I will be doing a live stream via instagram 3/31 at 1PM featuring various trans performers, and speakers as well as performing “Them” live. Make sure to follow @flaviaspeaks! 🙂
With the hopes of Pride Month not being affected, you’ll be touring with your new EP right?
Yes! Fingers crossed the world can heal itself in the next couple months just in time for all the Queers to come running out of quarantine and into dancing outside celebrating ourselves. I’ll be releasing a Pride EP in June featuring entirely queer content and have already been set to perform at various prides around the country, so hopefully the show can still go on and we can all celebrate together in a few months!