Flavia: “In our rainbow community I feel like we really need to stand strong together”
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“You don’t often make decisions that big in your life spontaneously,” says Flavia during our phone call, describing an impromptu move to Paris during lockdown.
Growing up in Ireland and Italy, Flavia has encountered a life of traveling – more recently living in just about every corner of the US. After an L.A. stay, Flavia planned to take Paris next year. But, after what was meant to be a quick visit, she has since been living out of two suitcases after realising she didn’t want to leave
“There’s always life in the streets, or at least in the heart of the city,” she explains. “I was sitting in a bar with my friend and just behind us was an artist, and I could hear the sound of his Sharpie ferociously drawing something. It turns out, the drawing was of my friend and I loved the fact that I was in a conversation with her and could hear this Parisian artist sketching her right next to us. To me, that’s the sound of Paris.”
Even in her travels, the rising singer-songwriter has cemented her place in the pop music scene, winning awards in the Independent Music Awards and the John Lennon Songwriting competition and being celebrated by Billboard for her music videos. Just last month, Flavia gave even more reason that shes a force to be reckoned with, delivering a new electro-pop EP of identity.
The Out Loud EP details her story of queer identity, from first realising her sexuality (‘Blue’), mustering up the courage to then accidentally fall for straight women (‘Gay For a Day’), dating a trans-masucline non-binary person (‘Them’), to her present reality and confidence in being a queer woman (‘Switch’). But, of all songs on the EP, ‘Them’ holds a special place in her heart.
“‘Them’ is special because it really connected me to the LGBT community as a whole which I find still can be divided. In our rainbow community I just feel like we really need to stand strong together and ’Them’ ignited my fire in terms of my activism work to fight for trans rights and bring awareness.
“The use of a pronoun makes a difference for someone to feel respected or invalidated and I think it’s just very valid to normalise the use of pronouns so gender nonconforming people don’t have to be the only ones pushing for it.”
In the song’s video, Flavia is joined by trans, gender nonconforming and non-binary individuals to show representation to a community that she thinks is underrepresented.
“We filmed with almost 50 folks and hands down every single one was like ‘I’ve never heard a song about me before’.
“Theres not a lot of cis artists making a lot of trans-positive art and it was such a positive experience being on set with such a diverse group of people and having everyone feel seen and heard and validated and having us all work together. It was such a special moment, I cried like a baby on set.”
This freedom of identity in music isn’t something Flavia has experienced in her life. The first time she remembers listening to openly queer music was by Hayley Kiyoko, whos music video for ‘Girls Like Girls’ in 2015 gained mass recognition – “I think I saw her in a Bed Bath and Beyond and I was freaking out, but thought ‘No Flavia, its L.A. don’t be that creep, leave her be.”
I think it’s just very valid to normalise the use of pronouns so gender non-conforming people don’t have to be the only ones pushing for it.
Even though the story behind the EP revolves around Flavia’s queer identiy, she wants her music to be for all sexualities, giving people the confidence to have freedom in their own lives and to be authentic to themselves.
As well as being an avid advocate, Flavia is also an avid performer, always getting the crowd hyped up and taking them out of their hectic lives for a night of fun. But, in this lockdown, she admits she didn’t realise what she had until it was gone.
“I just never thought I’d see the day we couldn’t perform and this year I was supposed to play a ton of pride events,” she said.
“I miss that exchange between artist and audience, it’s just so beautiful. It isn’t just the artist that gives a lot, the audience just gives so much and you can feel it on stage. I’d do anything to be back out there.”