HANDSOME: 8 Songs That Aren’t Afraid Of Anything
HANDSOME – aka Sydney artist Caitlin McGregor – has made a playlist of songs that mirror the sense of “boldness and an unapologetic vulnerability” she was trying to capture on single ‘No Cowards’.
After releasing acclaimed music for a number of years as Caitlin Park, she underwent a creative and personal transformation, embracing her queer identity and her experiences coming out in her debut EP as HANDSOME, No Hat No Play.
“The thing with these tracks,” she says of the playlist, “is their strength most likely came from the songwriter’s most vulnerable and raw moment, something that made them scared or made them feel powerless.
“Most people would hide from telling the world these stories, but these artists turned them into powerful songs. And that gives them grace.”
Mura Masa was on repeat while I was making No Hat No Play. There is something about the way he fuses organic sounds together with beats that really bring out the crisp moments – the licks, the top end of the drum stick snapping the rim. This track featuring Bonzai is a fucking nuts song, it’s not brash, it’s not loud – it’s all about capturing the attitude of the lyrics with the music. Dat bass.
To call this song unapologetic is an understatement. “Falling in love with avoiding problems” is something many of us have felt. The feeling of mania when you don’t know who you are, are confused with who you love – you can feel dizzy, and you can find a way to enjoy pain. Tim’s voice is direct, when he dares you to come at him. This song is triumphant, and it’s perfect. I feel everything when I hear this song.
Do not fuck with her. Okenyo is an artist with plenty of acclaim, but she deserves even more. Her writing is next level and deserves ears worldwide because she is making music like no one else. ‘Hang Your Hat’ is so bold af, where she encourages the listener to celebrate their unique self-expression and carry themselves with nothing but confidence. She challenges casual racism in Australia, and suggest a hint of the Time’s Up movement with the phrase “Tic Toc ya done”.
I was lucky enough to meet Fortune recently, jumping into the studio with him for an amazing afternoon. Fortune epitomises boldness and grace. Hailing from South Africa, he is often forced to defend his sexuality and carry his head high in harsh and dangerous environments. In fact, he had to defend himself recently after a show in Melbourne (congrats Australia!). His music exudes freedom, and that’s why he is such an important artist.
Hot goss. We were blasting this song in the video clip for ‘No Cowards’ in the scene where everybody is dancing on the roof. Robyn represents a release and a freedom to many queers around the world. She finds a way to capture a sadness or a regret in a dance song – and there is nothing more powerful that dancing away your pain. I’ve spent many a night on the dance floor with my friends screaming this song at the top of my lungs.
Bravery is a word that comes to mind when I think about HTMLflowers. He is hailed for creating great art out of a situation that feels so hopeless, and so he should. He doesn’t hide his illness, and has found a way of building a community around his art making, by creating a safe space for people in similar positions. He uses his most vulnerable moments, to instil hope in others. “I was easy to love once, wasn’t I?” makes me fall off my chair every time.
Kid Heron has really found himself with this new track, and it makes me so excited. The Kid plays drums in the HANDSOME band, and I’ve never watched someone blossom the way he has in the last year. And you can hear it in his music making, and the confidence in his lyricism. ‘Future Love’ is a blatant celebration of his sexuality – it is sensual, brave and affirming. And I love every moment of it.
I know she has just released a new album, Wanderer, but this one felt right to finish on. Cat Power (aka Chan Marshall) taught has all to use our vulnerability to make art, didn’t she? Through stories of neglect and abuse and addiction, Chan revealed it all. I watched her play this song all around the world – Paris, Denmark, London, Sydney – and every time it is heart-stopping. Interestingly, she released this track on Moonpix and then again as a “cover” of sorts on Jukebox. She now performs it with power – motioning kicking, and scrunching up her face. A great example of a song that isn’t afraid of anything – it used to be about her hopelessness, and now its about her triumph over this. Cat Power, you’re worth everything.