Singer-songwriter Arlo Parks on how her queer identity influences her music: ‘It’s who I am’

Trailblazing queer Black musician Arlo Parks has opened up on how her identity as a bisexual woman informs her songs, and why music is such an important tool for the queer community.

After earning two Grammy nominations for her debut album Collapsed in Sunbeams, and recently announcing her follow up, My Soft Machine, Parks has made a name for herself as a fearlessly unapologetic artist.

In an interview with Spotify discussing her newest single “Weightless”, as well as Spotify’s new platform Glow, which aims to amplify the work of LGBTQ+ artists, Parks further reflected on her queer identity and the ways it had influenced her music.

“My queer identity has always made its way into my music because it’s who I am,” she began. “And I’ve always written about love, finding myself in the world and coming of age.

“I feel like music was also treated as a journal for me, and it was a way that I processed the world around me and became more comfortable and confident with who I was.”

Arlo Parks has announced a new album and UK and European tour dates.
Arlo Parks recently announced a new album and UK and European tour dates. (C Brandon/Redferns)

Parks went on to describe how she’s heavily inspired by queer literature and film, as well as artists such as Beverly Glenn-Copeland and SOPHIE, who tragically died in 2021.

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“That Boygenius release sent me into a frenzy,” she added, referring to the recent reformation of Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Dacus and Julien Baker’s indie supergroup.

Parks said music “builds connection”, especially for queer people who “find real comfort in their chosen family”.

“Music really serves to build that, especially in spaces like queer clubs, and especially in London,” sh continued.

“Many queer kids really find themselves on nights out when they’re finally surrounded by people who they can relate to, who they feel close to. And music is vital in that dance culture, but also serves as representation.

“I remember the first time I heard somebody singing a song about being queer and using pronouns that I felt I could apply to love stories, that I had been through, then also wanting to give that back to people. A big part of encouraging people is making them feel less alone.”

Parks came out as bisexual in 2019 during an interview with music publication, The Line of Best Fit. “Coming out as bisexual was freeing in a way, because it allowed me to talk about experiences and feelings about certain things and people that I didn’t feel able to before” she said.

“Obviously there’s still judgment and it’s still taboo, and I didn’t want to pigeonhole myself as the bisexual artist. That’s just a part of who I am.”

Tickets for Parks’ tour are on sale now.

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