Chattin Up: AG
This stellar songstress caught our eye with her gender bending music video and held our attention with her soulful voice and stunning paintings.
When AG released the music video for “I Wanna Be Your Man”—a cover of the famous Beatles song—it quickly blew up all over the LGBT blogosphere. Not only was the song equal parts catchy and haunting—thanks to AG’s throaty aching vocals—but the video itself was bold and visually stunning. Shot in black and white, it depicts the out lesbian Latina transforming in real time from fabulous femme to dashing boi, juxtaposing the relatively new concept of gender fluidity with a song by what is perhaps the most mainstream and beloved music in modern history. Not only does it convey a powerful message about the complexity of gender, that it is set to a (deftly covered) Beatles song guarantees that it will reverberate far beyond the confines of an LGBT audience—a brave choice by an emerging artist. As it turns out “I Wanna Be Your Man” was just the first single from AG’s brilliant new EP, simply titled, The Beatles, on which the out lesbian Latina reinterprets six of the iconic bands songs.
Along with strumming our heartstrings and brazenly binding to iconic pop, AG is also busy with her indie supergroup The Rescues. In the band she is joined by indie favorites Kyler England, Rob Giles and Gabriel Mann—who play instruments as well as sing. Having split with their record label, The Rescues are now hard at work on a fan-funded follow up to the critically acclaimed album Let Loose the Horses.
Proving she’s one of the hardest working women in music industry, AG has also hit the road with fellow Sapphic singers Garrison Starr and Maia Sharp in support of her solo EP—that is, of course, when she isn’t selling her paintings. That’s right! In addition to a solo and collaborative career AG is also an artist. Her chosen medium is a combination of collage and paint in which she seeks to create visual lyrics. The effect is a visually arresting marriage of poetry and pop art. Like the artist herself, it’s eye-catching, edgy and daring.
What was the inspiration for your amazing music video for “I Wanna Be Your Man”?
What I wanted to do was to have a real-time transformation—and I kind of wanted to confuse people, people that haven’t really been exposed to transgender culture at all. A good way to do that is by covering probably the most well-known rock band of all time. It will expose me a lot of people that wouldn’t necessarily go searching for exposure to transgender culture. That was me trying to do my duty.
Do you hope to be a spokesman for the trans community?
It’s not necessarily the transgender community—it’s [about] gender fluidity. That’s what I believe in. I believe in human rights in general. Anybody can love and marry and be whoever they choose to be and choose to be with. The first video was covering that end, gay/transgender culture, but in my next video I’m going to be focusing more on all kinds of different people. I don’t want it to be just about one thing, because I want it to be about so many different things so that people can get what they want out of it, even if it’s just somebody who really loves Beatles songs and really loves my rendition, that’s cool with me. If it’s somebody who really loves acoustic music, great, if it’s somebody who thinks it’s so awesome that a girl is singing about another girl, and it’s Beatles songs, I want to be for everybody. At the same time, if I do see an opportunity to represent, I will, which is what I did.
The Beatles are so well loved. Was the idea of doing a cover intimidating?
I have sort of a voracious appetite for challenge. I’ve always believed that nobody should be covering the Beatles, they’re the founding fathers of modern pop music. To try and do their songs justice is really hard, near impossible, and I’ve heard a lot of really, really bad Beatles covers.
I’m with a publisher…that just happens to own the rights to these six songs. They wanted me to do what’s called “inspired versions.” I really got into it, there are opportunities here to do stuff I always wanted to do. It was a huge challenge. I looked at my producer and said, We shouldn’t be doing this, it’s going to be really hard and we're either going to totally nail it or we’re going to totally fuck it up and it’ll be horrifying. I think we nailed it—thank God.
Have you ever felt any pressure as a musician to stay in the closet?
When the Rescues first got signed to Universal it was pretty incredible. I finally had the opportunity to be an out musician in the mainstream, which is what I’ve always wanted to do. They never wanted me to change, never asked me to not say anything or not be out. You hear all these stories about people having to be in the closet and I never had to be, and it’s pretty incredible.
I’ve always been out, but there was a period right before we got signed when I started wearing a wig and wearing heels, and then I realized, wait, this isn’t right, this is not who I am and I need to stop. I think everybody goes through that struggle if they want to be in the mainstream, which I do. Not because I want to be Lady Gaga but because I want as many people as possible to hear my music and be moved by it, straight or gay.
You're also a visual artist. When did you start painting?
I’ve been painting my whole life but I didn’t start doing it on a professional level until a couple of years ago. It was just an extension of my music, I wanted to reinvent my lyrics and make them more visual. It was really, incredibly cathartic, for me, because I gotten to the point where I was really bored with having just music as my only form of artistic expression, and painting renewed that. I’ve always had an immense love for lyrics, I love the fact that now they can be seen as well as sung. I just did a piece, a Beatles one, that says “Love is all you need.” I want to do art for the people, I’ve never wanted it to be art for the critics.
Lezzie Lightning Round with AG
What is your guiltiest pleasure?
Sci-fi fantasy. I’m reading Game of Thrones right now. I’m kind of obsessed.
Do you have any other hidden talents?
I’m starting to direct. I directed [the “I Wanna Be Your Man” video], and I’m directing a couple more for a couple of friends of mine—Garrison Star and Maia Sharp—coming up really soon.
If you weren’t a musician what would you be?
A photographer, a painter or a director—something in the entertainment world.
Do you have a celebrity crush?
Oh my God…I have to say Kristen Stewart.
She’s single now, you know…
I’m not, unfortunately for me.
Watch her video for "I Wanna Be Your Man" below: