Miami is home to an illustrious nightlife scene and an often-overlooked but nevertheless boast-worthy music community. It is no secret that queer artists are its backbone, so in honor of Pride Month, New Times
is taking the opportunity to highlight some of Miami’s noteworthy musical talent who identify on the LGBTQ+ spectrum and who've been serving up music and performances that inspire listeners to keep on keeping on.
Photo by Karli Evans
Peruvian artist Ar Kedabar
defines what it means to be multifaceted as she continuously breaks new ground in Miami’s urbano and electronic scene as a singer, lyricist, dancer, and performer, as well as with her work in inclusive intersectional feminist activism. In 2019, Ar Ketdabar released Chamana
via the burgeoning queer collective and label Internet Friends. The six-track EP is steeped in South American mysticism with nods to the rhythms of deebow, all while retaining the gritty sensibilities of Miami’s underground scene. She followed it up this year with Pleasure Provider
, a collaborative EP with her creative partner Discosexo
, with whom she also founded the sex-positive, queer burlesque show Octopussy Lounge
. Visuals like the music video for “Hold Me Like”
showcases the full scope of Ar Kedabar’s sex-positive artistic vision.
Photo by @ianwokeup
Carli Acosta crash-landed into the consciousness of Miami’s shoegaze enthusiasts in 2018 when their band Palomino Blond
, founded with fellow guitarist and vocalist Kyle Fink, self-released an impressive demo EP that caught the attention of the local rock scene. Since then, Acosta’s songwriting abilities has cemented them as a musician to watch in Miami’s next generation of de-homogenized power-pop players. Last year, Palomino Blond recorded a live session of its Midheaven EP
from Acosta’s home, featuring “Lovely,” a grungy ode that exemplifies the band’s euphonious style. The band is currently working on a double single, due out later this year.
Photo by Yana Gueorguieva
Initially releasing mixes, Coffintexts has consistently impressed with a steady stream of releases that span from jungle and house to techno. Her sense of artistic freedom is both apparent and welcome to her growing fan base on Miami’s rave circuit. A relative newcomer, Coffintexts' inherent talent has quickly drawn attention, earning her spots at some of Miami’s top venues like Club Space and ATV Records, as well as a shout-out from experimental internet art platform and collective Felt Zine. Indeed, in a short period of time, the artist has cultivated a unique style which is especially noticeable in her newest solo EP, Green Dream
, and her collaborative project Media Noche
with Miami duo INVT.
Emile Blair Milgrim
Photo By Marina Mendoza
Emile Blair Milgrim
Emile Blair Milgrim can best be described as a “lifer” when it comes to her commitment to Miami’s music scene. While a stint in Portland in the early aughts bore such fruits as solidifying her love for playing drums, in 2011, she found her way back to the 305, where she continues to run her label Other Electricities, putting out homegrown gems from the likes of metal supergroup Saavik, as well as her own outfit, Archival Feedback. It’s hard to know in which section of Miami’s music scene she's most recognized. If you are a fan of noise music, you might know her best from her curated lineup at the International Noise Conference’s Apostrophe stage or the experimental sounds of her solo project Brom Lee. Maybe it's from her performance with Iggy Pop in the first all-female-identifying lineup of the Stooges with her band Las Nubes
. Regardless, as the co-owner and music buyer at the beloved Little Haiti-based Sweat Records and cofounder and former codirector of Miami Girls Rock Camp
, it’s safe to say Milgrim lives and breathes Miami music.
Photo by Dennis Fuller
Jenna Balfe is the fearless frontwoman of post-punk outfit Donzii
. Known for her avant-garde live performance style, Balfe’s artistic practice is informed by her background in dance, having received a master's from Pratt University in dance movement therapy. On top of Donzii’s busy schedule, which has included opening for New Order at the Fillmore Miami Beach last year and releasing the single "Burn
," off Donzii’s upcoming full-length, Balfe also currently holds body-movement classes at the Historic Virginia Key Beach Park. Her classes, dubbed "Repatriating to the Earth," are part activism, part art series, and an extension to her longitudinal artistic work "Transnaturism," which explores human belonging and the existential value of nature through development. Last year, "Repatriating to the Earth" won a grant through Oolite Arts, which will culminate in several performances in 2022. Donzii recently released Hissy Hits,
the band's first cassette release featuring scaled-down classic Donzii tracks recorded live at Pulp Arts in Gainesville.
Photo by @rein.glitter
grew up listening to diverse styles of music. While her parents brought her up on salsa, cumbia, soul, and reggae, Le Poodle also bore witness to the heyday of MTV, which exposed her to the delights of alternative rock, hip-hop, and R&B. After joining bands in middle school and high school, she dove deep into the discographies of Captain Beefheart, Frank Zappa, and System of a Down, with hip-hop artists like MF Doom making a particular impression. All of these styles of music had one thing in common: a majestic percussion section. The bass guitar was the first instrument she seriously began to study. It became her escape from the pressure of everyday life, with local acts like Grey 8s and Psychic Mirrors becoming a major inspiration musically. After fronting the band Cloud Solo (now the name of her imprint), she became wary of playing predominantly with cis men who weren’t on the same page as she was artistically or otherwise, eventually deciding to break out under the solo alias Le Poodle. These days, she works with Suzi Analogue’s label, Never Normal Records
, and veers towards synth-laden psych-pop.
Photo courtesy of the artist
It wasn’t until Marceline Steel moved to Miami that they stumbled onto the queer nightlife scene. Having grown up on punk music in their hometown of Kissimmee, discovering rave culture was a life-altering moment for the artist, who got their start in Miami as a dancer before being tapped by Internet Friends founder Gami, who booked them for their first hosting gig at Club Space. Under the tutelage of Internet Friends alum Keanu Orange, Steel began to learn the ropes behind the decks, drawn to the theatrics of performing from the booth. These days, their hypnotic sets draw from their broad musical background, plucking inspiration from the likes of Crystal Castles, Boy Harsher, FKA Twigs, Black Sabbath, Shy Girl, and Arca. The DJ released their first demo via Internet Friends but is waiting for the right songs and producer to put out their first true release. For the last few years, Steel has been making the rounds at several underground raves like the Black queer diaspora party Masisi. Steel says if there's one thing you can expect from a party they're spinning at, it’s a safe space. “I just like to dance, so when I’m DJ'ing or finding tracks, I just imagine, Hmm. Would I dance at a party to this? Does this make me feel euphoric? Am I in another world listening to this?
Photo courtesy of Prisma Artists
It’s a rarity to find two major metropolitan cities fighting over you, but that is the case for DJ and producer Mystic Bill
, who was born and raised in Miami (and, ahem, a verified Miami legend) but made an indelible imprint on Chicago, and vice versa, after moving there in 1988. Often described as Chicago’s most influential house-music DJ, he inevitably brought his acid-infused sounds back home to Miami, where he now performs around the city (and at major clubs across the globe like Berlin’s Panorama Bar), including the monthly LGBTQ+ pool party, Mr. Pinky, at Selina Gold Dust. Fans of Mystic Bill can look forward to the newly signed-off event, the Tea, coming soon to Gramps, and his two upcoming releases: a new EP, Body Moves
, via Derrick Carter and Luke Solomon’s imprint Classic Music Company
, and the single “Obzession,” via local label ATV Records.
Photo by Pamela Gonzalez
Producer, remixer, and DJ Phaxas
began her foray into the world of music as a sound engineer. This, she says, has been a defining factor of her style as a solo musician, thinking of each release as not just a concept or message, but focusses on each frequency and harmony of her productions. After producing and then joining the art-electro-pop outfit Organic Arma as a member in the mid-2000s, the artist built upon the momentum and began to spin at local clubs, cultivating her style as a DJ and producer as part of that diverse music scene. Phaxas will be dropping a new remix EP for her '90’s-dance-influenced track “We Are Pure Ecstasy
” next month, featuring reworkings by female-identifying producers, DJs, sound-makers, and scene catalysts. Later in the summer, the producer will release her Hallucination Sister
EP as a limited-edition cassette via local label Pet Tapes
Photo courtesy of the artist
DJ, producer, and founding member of the queer-femme collective Internet Friends
— an imprint and party which has quickly become a pillar of Miami’s queer community — Ultrathem
(AKA Gami) has fearlessly and expertly carved out a space for herself and her compatriots before most graduated high school. Dedicating herself to her craft, and most notably, usurping stages and platforms from uninclusive parties and promoters for up-and-coming queer artists in Miami, Ultrathem has been keeping busy turning heads and making moves with her kaleidoscopic soundscape of electronic, reggaeton, tribal, Miami bass, and ghettotech, and besides her constant appearances at raves across Miami, keep an eye out for her upcoming project with Club Space, a community capsule
featuring streams, panels, and more.