Queer acts to see at NXNE 2023
June 17, 2023
It's Pride month... but it's also NXNE - a city-wide Music Festival - and we've rounded up all the queer talent.
NXNE is happening all over Toronto from June 13th - 18th. We know it's Pride month and that you might have all kinds of queer plans swirling around, but there some fantastic musical talent blessing us until the end of the weekend, and with the help of our friend Laura at Route504, we've mapped out the can't-miss shows.
Even if you miss them, it also makes for a great map of artists to check-out.
MBG is a music project of Multi-Instrumentalist, Songwriter, and Producer Leena Rodriguez. Alongside her co-producer and engineer Phil Hirst, Leena writes, performs, and produces all of the project's music. Blending both the hard and edgy sounds of Alt-Rock with infectious Pop melodies. MBG is the sound of someone just trying their best through the lens of an anxious, Queer, Latina.
Pillow Fite is Halifax, Nova Scotia’s most exciting new musical duo. Pairing tender, heart-on-your-sleeve lyrics with catchy alt-rock instrumentals and folky ballads, the genre lines get blurred in a way that keeps the project dynamic and binge-worthy while giving listeners all of the feels. As a trans non-binary fronted band, Pillow Fite strive to represent queer experiences both on and off stage, and work hard to perform in safe and inclusive spaces.
Chinese Medicine is a BIPOC/Queer-fronted punk band from Toronto, Canada. Their 80s and modern post-punk combination create a familiar yet refreshing sound that unlocks a primal fury in their listeners. Formed in 2021, they gained traction in the local Toronto scene for their energetic live shows and catchy tunes. Their debut EP, Die Aspora, produced by Wade MacNeil of Alexisonfire, is a hard-hitting, side-splitting fuck you to society's corrupt systems while exploring life and self-actualization.
DESIIRE is a Congolese singer songwriter who delivers a unique blend of Afro, R&B, Electronic, Hip Hop and Jazz to create music that is filled with hypnotic instrumentals and vocal moody simplicity. He has become known for his African inspired vocals, soul infused, rap staccato cadences and engaging story-telling songwriting.
Chris Pierce, as he would put it, is not only a Popstar but a Superstar. Making music empowering the LGBTQ+ community, emphasis on making his community feel special first because they deserve love & changing the way life is for the next generation of the LGBTQ. In the brief 3 years of work he’s charted Top 15, been played in places like Europe, America, Australia and Canada, and has an album with 1+ Million streams without it being out. Within a short time he's shown what a force he is.
Housewife, aka Brighid Fry (she / they) write and perform their own songs and think genres are boring and reductive. They are queer and an ally, an activist and champion of the environmental organization Music Declares Emergency. Their 2022 EP 'You'll Be Forgiven' received acclaim from CBC, Exclaim, FLOOD Magazine, and more, and Housewife kicked off 2023 with the release of ‘Fuck Around Phase’ and ‘King of Wands’ via Hazel Street Records (Sony / Orchard); their most gut-wrenching and relatable music to date.
Embodying the energy & ferocity of their animal namesake, Hyaenas is a new Indie Rock/Synth Pop band writing songs through a queer feminist lens while drawing inspiration from The Go-Go’s, The Beaches, & Metric.
"“Be real and be a voice for others”. A genre-bending artist, influenced by the rich and diverse views on the gay culture. Queer voice with Italian & Nigerian roots based in London. Unapologetic, revolutionary and liberating, she places diversity at heart. Having signed her song ‘Savage’ to Sony US & Babygrande records (also featured on the A3C compilation album), and written for Chinese artist ‘Jike Junyi’, Tana is an artist & songwriter with unique charge and flair for lyrics & melody. Her tracks have been championed by ‘Gay Times’ - following her recent main stage performance at UK Black Pride 2022 where she performed in front of 25,000 people.
#JordanOccasionally or JD (they/them) is a Black, Nonbinary, Independent Dance Pop/RNB Artist and Activist with nearly 1.9 Million streams, 5.9 Million likes on Tik Tok, and over 120,000 followers across social media. JD’s fanbase is purely grassroots, having started in their hometown, Memphis, TN, and gaining critical acclaim with their first EP “1998”. However it was their album Indigo that solidified their route to the top. This album which was an homage to their identity as a Young Black Queer Femme opened up doors that haven’t closed yet, leading them to stages as big as the Genius Open Mic Stage.
Brooklyn Doran (she/her) is a queer singer-songwriter originally from the heart of Northwestern Ontario, who has been a staple of the Toronto folk scene for over ten years. Doran’s unique sound weaves song and storytelling; the polarity between her music and personality create a harmonious blend of wit and humour contrasted by vulnerable lyricism and haunting melody.
All artist descriptions are by the lovely folks at NXNE.