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serpentwithfeet: ‘Artists like Björk have always pushed the boundaries and are always pollinators’

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In the latest episode of Proud Radio on Apple Music 1, Hattie Collins sits down with indigenous American musician Black Belt Eagle Scout and serpentwithfeet.

serpentwithfeet discusses why his collaborator Björk is such an influential figure in music, reflects on working with Lil Silva and Sampha, and talks about his new album ‘DEACON’.

Black Belt Eagle Scout discusses her experience of growing up as LGBTQ+ member of her indigenous community, explains why it is so important to her that her tribe celebrates Pride, and expresses her gratitude for the support of fellow artists Tegan and Sara.

Apple Music is celebrating Pride all month and throughout the year on a dedicated page which can be found at apple.co/Pride.

Serpentwithfeet on Working With Lil Silva and Sampha…
I love friendship songs. I think they’re so important. So, when I went to work with Lil Silva and Sampha, I knew they also wanted to do something like a soulful house kind of jam. They’re both brilliant at making dance music and danceable music and rhythmic music and progressive music. They were like, “We got you.” So, we jammed out and came up with the musical foundation or the instrumental foundation for fellowship. And then I started singing ideas, coming up with the lyrics, and it was Sampha’s idea to have all of us sing together. It was me, Sampha and Lil Silva all singing on the choruses on that song.

Serpentwithfeet On Why Björk’s Music Is So Important…
I guess artists like Björk have always pushed the boundaries and are always pollinators. They broke the rules because in her universe, she can do whatever she wants, and she’s done it in such a brilliant way since the beginning of her career.I think she’s created space for so many others because of her ingenuity and boundless creativity. I felt that as a kid, musically, I felt I could really be a courageous young child. So, I love thinking about how that music can be a soundtrack for a lot of queer people’s lives.

Serpentwithfeet Oh His Album ‘Deacon’…
I actually started working on this album in 2018, well before the pandemic. I knew that I did want to make something that was a bit more effervescent and joyous, but in the large scheme, I think I just want to be an artist who is very expressive, who explores the entire spectrum of emotion as much as I can. That means that some songs are going to be a bit more melancholy and then some songs are going to be joyous and some songs are going to be that grey area. I think it’s important for me to express it fully.

Black Belt Eagle Scout On Her Coming Out Experience…
I feel like if I was courageous enough, there would have been support, but I didn’t see anybody around me in my small community that was openly queer. And so, I had a hard time feeling comfortable coming out to my community, and it wasn’t until I moved to college that I felt comfortable enough to be able to talk about my identity. I think it’s really a shame that there’s a stigma around being queer, because since forever, our identities as indigenous people have always been honoured in whatever identity we choose to have.

Black Belt Eagle Scout On Why Her Tribe Celebrating Pride Day Means So Much To Her…
I’ll tell you one thing though, and this can attest to your question also about progress, is just recently our tribe adopted a resolution to have a pride day and have a pride parade. It was such a, I’m going to get emotional, because that would have been such an awesome thing to have as a kid, but now that I’m in my early thirties, I’m so excited for the youth that are in my community right now that can be celebrated and that can feel supported and that can feel like they can be themselves.

Black Belt Eagle Scout On Her Friendship With Tegan and Sara…
Well, they came to a show actually. I think it was just Sara that came to my show when we played, and it was right before the pandemic happened. We played in Vancouver… it might’ve been Tegan who was at the show. I can’t remember. I can’t remember because it was a busy show and we didn’t actually get to talk, but one of them was there. I think when you’re an up-and-coming artist, and you have people that you admire as musicians that you grew up listening to, like, I grew up listening to Tegan and Sara and feeling validated as a queer person through their music. And when you have them be supportive of you as a musician, as an up-and-coming musician, it feels so incredibly good. It’s like, “Wow, this is a community.” It’s a community feeling for sure, but we keep in touch through the internet. And I’ve always wanted to go on tour with them. So, maybe that could be in the cards at some point one day.

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