“Queer existence is here,” says Fancy Hagood (a.k.a. Who is Fancy) of Brothers Osborne’s T.J. Osborne’s recent coming out and the boundaries that are being broken for queer artist within the music industry.
Videos by American Songwriter
In a recent interview along with Aaron Lee Tasjan, on Proud Radio With Hunter Kelly on Apple Music Country, the two artists discussed the representation of queers in art, defending the use of the right pronouns, and the importance of telling more of their queer stories in songwriting.
“What I love about T.J. coming out is it shows that we’re taking up space in this world whether you know it or not,” says Hagood. “We’re everywhere, and, we don’t look one way or the other. We don’t talk one way or the other. We take up so much space, and we come in all different forms.”
Whenever a queer person like T.J. steps up, it changed the game, and opens more doors for the entire community. “Hats off to T.J. for being so brave,” says Hagood. “It takes a lot of courage, especially when that many eyes are watching.”
Another key element is the importance of pronouns—he/him/his and she/her/hers—in songwriting, something Hagood says he’s had to defend in his lyrics.
“How many A&R rooms have I been in where someone’s told me that that’s not going to fly, people aren’t going to want to listen to that, [or] we need to make it more ambiguous,” says Hagood, who first made waves after releasing 2015’s “Boys Like You,” co-written with J. R. Roten, Jason Gantt, and Bob DiPero, and featuring Ariana Grande and Meghan Trainor.
“My name’s Fancy,” says Hagood. “This is my world. It’s the world I’m living in. It’s the music I’m making and I’m singing about my experience. My experience is not with the ladies. It is with men, so that’s what I have to sing about. It’s just too important to me to tell my story.”
Hagood, who recently co-wrote the “Nightfall” with Little Big Town, the title track off the band’s most recent album, recently left his major label in Los Angeles to return to Nashville and pursue music that was less centered around tailoring a “queer persona.”
“I didn’t feel free in my creative process,” says Hagood. “I moved back to Nashville because my creative process and how I create is way too important to me. The stories I want to tell are too important to me to allow anyone else that does not come from my background, especially a queer experience telling me how I need to be queer in this space.”
Growing up, Hagood says he always had to look to female artists to feel empowered, and believes it’s time for more queer people to tell their stories, and that going by the moniker “Fancy” was creatively freeing for him.
“Stepping into ‘Fancy,’ I stepped into my confidence,” says Hagood. “I stepped into myself.”
Regardless of its context—or if someone is straight, gay, bi, or trans—Tasjan says love has no rules, oftentimes doing things that people never expect, and while his music is framed from his perspectives, it’s still something everyone experiences.
“Whether it’s specifically queer or not, it is something that everybody can relate to,” says Tasjan. “That is maybe part of the process of undoing the stigma of gay artists, bisexual artists… that somehow their music is just for people who relate to them through their sexuality. I don’t think that’s true. I think these are songs that anybody can hear and relate to, but as a queer man, it feels important to me to tell it from that perspective.”
Looking at the landscape, specifically in Americana music, Tasjan is noticing more artists coming from a place of queerness of a queer point of view.
“We’re sort of realizing that these stories are our country’s stories,” says Tasjan. “They’re American stories. They’re the stories of many people and of generations of people. That’s what country music is. It’s the music of the people, so if we want to be able to accurately call it the music of the people, it must represent the people.”
Tune in and listen to the full episode this Sunday (March 7) at 4pm PT / 6pm CT / 7pm ET at apple.co/_ProudRadio on Apple Music Country.