A new punk band carves out space for queer people in the Halifax music scene
ENBY wants queer people of all ages to have safe spaces to enjoy music
December 5, 2022, 11:04 am ASTLast Updated: December 5, 2022, 11:04 am
ENBY is a new queercore punk band with a mission: to help create a queer-positive music scene where all LGBTQIA+ people, including youth, can feel safe.
The four-person band formed in the summer, with guitarist Chris Power, vocalist Clark Barrie, and bassist Trent Thomas having met while playing open mics at the storied Menz and Mollyz queer bar. Drummer Dylan MacDonald joined later, after meeting Barrie at a skatepark.
Barrie says the band wants to put out the message that “you can be out there and you can be loud and you can be proud.”
ENBY is sending that message through music which Power describes as fast, loud, and angry. They say they’re inspired by bands like G.L.O.S.S., Against Me!, and Limp Wrist.
“Now more than ever, it’s important that queer folk are outspoken and forward,” said Barrie. “Especially the past couple of weeks, it’s been rough. It’s just proven to me even more that we need a scene where we can yell about it and be mad about it and be outspoken.”
Queer communities worldwide have been reeling since the Nov. 19 attack at LGBTQIA+ club Club Q in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Power says they have seen this hate in the music world. “These macho attitudes and these queer-phobic attitudes still do run rampant,” they said.
But Barrie says, “That’s what punk should be for. It should be calling out the people who are putting people down.”
The LGBTQIA+ community’s need for safe environments to enjoy music is why MacDonald appreciates inclusive venues like RadStorm, where the band played their first show. “I think that any city or town can highly benefit from an all-ages space, especially one as inclusive as RadStorm,” he said.
An inclusive community arts space
RadStorm is a collectively run, dry and all-ages spot where artists can collaborate and hold events. It is nestled among The Bus Stop Theatre Cooperative, cafés, and shops on Gottingen Street.
Rizoma Adkisson helps give orientations to musicians who want to use RadStorm’s recording studio, equipment, and performance spaces.
“Having folks since (a) young age coming here and having the opportunity to experience music, in most shows that are also pay-what-you-can … that invites a lot of people to create and to engage with music that is weird, that is very creative,” Adkisson said.
They say that the role of RadStorm as an inclusive place for both work and events makes it different. “RadStorm has all the queerness and all that queer power, queer impulse that I think can make a community of artists flourish,” Adkisson said.
Supporting diverse artists in Nova Scotia
Fiona Diamond, interim executive director of Music Nova Scotia, says training and mentorship is available to help new and diverse groups like ENBY flourish.
“For your membership fee, you’re getting a basic fundamental course in how to access funding, how to do a record, how to work with your band, HR advice, that sort of thing,” she said.
Musicians can also apply for a new microgrant program from Music Nova Scotia. Under the Expert Access Program, musicians and industry professionals can receive up to $350 for legal, accounting, and other forms of expert advice.
However, according to Diamond, more funding is required to properly support artists. “We never have enough money. Everybody is working on a shoestring … we’re constantly trying to find money to institute these programs,” she said.
Continuing to fight for safe spaces
Being a band at the beginning of their journey, ENBY says they do not know exactly what is in store for them next.
“It’s hard to create an end goal because there’s always going to be a fight to be fought,” said MacDonald.
For now, the desire to create space for queer people of all ages is guiding their way.
“Growing up, I was always part of the punk scene. I was always a part of the alternative scene,” said Barrie, “but there wasn’t a lot of spaces as a queer punk or queer alternative person. So I think it’s really important to have that for everyone.”
Ultimately, Power says, “If we can be that band that I wish that I had growing up being queer, that would be really cool.”
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