Fagetarians and Dykes¹: The Diverse Unity of Queercore
by Esteban Restrepo
I. A (Not So) Brief Intro to Queercore
“You are entering a gay and lesbian-free zone.”
The queer community represents different things to different people. To some it is the bane of cultured society, while to others it is an escape from a stifling culture of heteronormativity. The importance of “straightness” is deeply ingrained in Western culture and is reflected in almost all aspects of society. Heterosexuality is accepted to be “the standard.” One is expected to be straight, and if not, one is at least expected to act straight. As a queer person, heteronormativity impacts my everyday life. I need to constantly be aware of the way I look, talk, and act. Adherence to heteronormative views of masculinity can be seen amongst gay males with the emergence of “masc4masc” culture (Vance). This term describes gay men who conform to masculine stereotypes and reject other gay men who they perceive as being overly feminine. The performance of being straight can be especially toxic for queer people, for whom being straight-passing is sometimes analogous with staying alive. Acting straight and being inconspicuous in public can be a way of making oneself a smaller target for hate crimes and harassment. However, this can also erase a distinct queer identity. Promoting conformity with the straight majority would stifle the queer community’s sense of independence and pacify the community so as not to be a nuisance to the heterosexual community (Jones, LaBruce). This threat of assimilation is largely what fueled the creation of the queercore movement, which sought to establish a distinct queer identity and buck the current status quo (du Plessis).
Springing from the punk scene in the mid-80s, queercore artists promoted queer freedom and independence. These artists held radical views on gender identity and sexuality and sought to break down barriers in the larger gay community (Hall). At the time, the LGBT community was fractured and not all that unified. Gay male issues took precedence over all others and people of color were largely ignored. The community pushed for conformity with a standardized vision of what a queer person should look like (Jones, LaBruce). Gay men were expected to adopt the “clone” look, which was typically associated with a mustache and chiseled “gym body” (Klein-Scholz). Queercore bucked these trends and pushed a diverse image of what the queer community could be. Lesbian artists were just as visible as gay male artists within the scene², and no single identity was prioritized over others. Queercore politics pressed for a breakdown of categories and for unity between disparate groups (du Plessis). There was to be no prioritization of gays and lesbians. Queer as a term allowed for a sense of equality. Simply put, “queer” applies to all those who are not straight or cisgender. Rather than sowing division through the establishment of arbitrary categories and identities, the queercore scene attempted to establish a level playing field by classifying all as simply “queer.” By co-opting elements of resistance from the punk scene, queercore artists were able to further their agendas and push for change in the community (Dechaine 8). The scene’s push for unity in diversity was revolutionary and changed the queer community, but it’s hard to say whether or not it was successful in its goals.
Adherence to gay stereotypes and certain “looks” is still a driving force in the queer community. In an essay on a photography collection meant to capture the “clone look,” the author notes that the men featured in the collection “look like any number of gay men who you see perched with their laptops in Mission cafes” (Sussman). Queer men also tend to still be more visible in media than queer women, as GLAAD’s 2018 report on queer representation in film indicates. Gay male culture also takes precedence over lesbian culture in the sense that while gay culture has been able to influence pop culture through shows like RuPaul’s Drag Race, lesbian culture has arguably not seen a similar breakthrough (Are). Pitchfork’s profile of seminal queercore zine J.D.s suggests the movement also had a questionable relationship with race (Torres). Could a scene with such flaws be considered successful, then? Through the examination of zines, lyrics, and politics of the queercore zine I intend to determine whether or not the scene accomplished its goal of unifying the queer community and doing away with arbitrary categories.
II. Musical Fanzine
“Sometimes I can’t remember why I want to live / Then I think of all the freaks and I don’t want to miss this” – Team Dresch
Queercore was pioneered by queer Canadian artists Bruce LaBruce and G.B Jones, whose zine J.D.s kickstarted the movement in 1985 (Hall). In order to provide some background it’s important to note that Jones and LaBruce were active in the art community, with both artists eventually going on to see success in the queer film circuit. Aside from her work with J.D.s, Jones was also a founding member of Canadian queercore band Fifth Column (Maximum RocknRoll). J.D.s essentially created an outlet for queer people who didn’t quite fit in with the gay community. At the time of the zine’s creation, the queer community was homogenized. Gay male culture was prized over lesbian culture, and queer kids were expected to look and act a certain way in order to be accepted within the community (Jones, LaBruce). LaBruce and Jones argue that gay culture had been ghettoized and rendered acceptable to straight people:
Under the headings of “democracy”, “pluralism”, and “liberalism”, society presents each ‘radical subculture’ as one of several alternatives, albeit more ‘theatrical’, in an array of ‘lifestyles’ to choose from. Accepting this illusion of freedom the subculture lapses into complacency and loses impetus, becoming increasingly indistinguishable from that which it originally stood in opposition to. The homosexual subculture provides a perfect example of cooption. Presented with a facile freedom that offers gay bars, discos, and fashion within a ‘gay ghetto’, a radical option sanctioned by and contained within normalcy becomes the only concession to liberation. (Jones, LaBruce)
It is this gay conformity that J.D.s sought to rail against. The zine provided an alternative to this “gay ghetto” both by being genuinely subversive in its content and by inviting reader participation. The zine presented real world anecdotes and stories about every-day queer life. These stories tended to be relatively mundane in content, with one story simply recounting the author’s night out with his boyfriend (J.D.s #3). These stories weren’t necessarily notable for their content but for how unapologetically queer they were.
The zine was explicit in its homosexuality. Gay porn was featured rather prominently, both in picture and in text form. Jokes about the explicit nature of the zine were common enough that LaBruce and Jones featured such a joke in their Maximumrocknroll feature “Don’t Be Gay, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Fuck Punk Up the Ass”:
Q: Do you read J.D.s?
A: No, I just jerk off to the pictures.
– Donny The Punk
These pictures were not solely pornographic in purpose, however, and were rather subversive in their cooptation of skinhead iconography. J.D.s repurposed common punk tropes and rendered them homoerotic. Within the world of J.D.s, skinheads weren’t simply neo-nazis and bigots but attractive gay men. This sexualization of punk tropes was essential to the zine, as the authors felt that the genre had strayed away from the sexual deviancy of its early days and had begun to reflect mainstream heterosexual attitudes. As the authors state in “Don’t Be Gay”:
As a movement, it begins to imitate a repressive society, one that abhors homosexuality and insists on heterosexual coupling, an entrenched institution, as it exists, that empowers the male, as hypermasculine aggressor, while debilitating the female, as victim. (Jones, LaBruce)
The zine’s use of punk imagery, then, inverts this by reframing punk as a homosexual phenomenon. With J.D.s, Jones and LaBruce subverted two movements at once. The zine went against both the gay community and the punk movement by creating an unholy mixture of the two.
The skinhead imagery of J.D.s has not gone without its criticism, though, as it serves as a prime example of the “visual language of white queer people subverting heterosexism” cited by Torres in his profile of the zine. Torres states that “even the zine’s go-to, the reclaimative homoeroticizing and subversive use of skinhead imagery, which could have easily complicated perceptions of established institutional systems of white, racist discourses and privilege, often did little but bait taboos and provocation.” This betrays a misunderstanding of the zine’s content. Neither of the authors set out to create a scene that was exclusive to any particular kind of queer person. Jones and LaBruce used their experiences as white punks as a reference point, yes, but both have been consistently adamant that the zine be open to queer people of all races. This excerpt from J.D.s #5 describing the requirements for being “Prince of the Homosexuals” illustrates the fact that the authors didn’t discriminate on any grounds:
Bear in mind the title of ‘Prince’ could happen to anyone, regardless of whether you are a girl or a boy, or a golden ager. You can be fat, fem, butch, or bitchy. You can be silly, sissy, swishy or a 98 lb. weakling. You can be a punk of colour, a punk of size or a punk of no size.
J.D.s may have been limited in its representation of people of color, but the zine was by no means intended to be exclusive to white voices. As the passage above indicates, both Jones and LaBruce were invested in fostering an environment that was welcoming to all.
J.D.s didn’t go unnoticed for long. The zine quickly sparked a local zine community as other artists began to take notice of J.D.s and started producing their own queer content. One of the more notable Toronto zines was BIMBOX, which was much more radical and aggressive than other zines at the time. BIMBOX was known for its acidic commentary and total rejection of the gay community. The zine pushed queercore politics to the extreme. BIMBOX essentially positioned itself as being against the gay community but supportive of the queer community. In contrast to the mainstream gay community, which was viewed by queer activists as being limited in its view of who belonged, the queer community was accepting of all those who weren’t straight. So, BIMBOX supported the inclusiveness of the queer community while rejecting the restrictions of the gay community. While this opinion in and of itself was not completely out of the ordinary within queercore, its aggressive presentation was what made it so radical. BIMBOX author Johnny Noxzema argues: “FACT: All victims of gay bashing DESERVE what they get. All victims of queer bashing are unfortunate cases of mistaken identity,” (qtd. in du Plessis). This comment, while incendiary, serves as an example of how the queer community attempted to break itself off from the mainstream gay community. Noxzema was attempting to delineate a clear “us” versus “them.” By distinguishing between the two communities, queer people were able to carve their own space separate from the gay mainstream. G.B Jones suggests that carving out a new space may have been necessary, as participants in the queercore scene were shunned from the mainstream gay community:
All the J.D.’s gang had been thrown out of every gay bar in Toronto by that point. It was obvious we weren’t consumers of the ‘right’ clothes, shoes, hairstyles, music and politics that the rigid gay and lesbian ‘community’ insisted on: we didn’t subscribe to the racism and misogyny and their ridiculous segregation of the sexes, either. Plus we were poor. (qtd. in Teixeira)
This quote paints a picture of the division latent in the gay community. Those who didn’t fit in with the standard were shunned. A “queer” identity, then, was absolutely necessary to combat the gay community’s focus on conformity. The word queer allows for unity. It allows for the dissolution of individual differences. “Queer” applies to all members of the LGBT community and not just a select few like the word gay. As stated in the zine Queers Read This, “when spoken to other gays and lesbians it’s a way of suggesting we close ranks, and forget (temporarily) our individual differences because we face a more insidious common enemy” (12). The unity afforded by the queer label is central to the politics of queercore. Michael du Plessis argues that queercore operated as a sort of counter-public sphere. It ran against the mainstream and established its own little insular community. Queercore was insular and self-sustaining, but its secretive nature was by no means limiting. The scene was, by all accounts, highly diverse. Du Plessis argues:
Several subcultural allegiances can intersect in queercore, as writer, sex worker, full-time goth, and sometime drag king Danielle Willis makes clear: “[Queercore] is really diverse. There are goth kids, straights, punks, bisexuals, rockers, fags, dykes. Look at me, I’m a female who dresses like a rocker boy so I can go out with transvestites” (interview in Cooper, “Johnny Noxzema” 33).
Du Plessis isn’t wrong to argue that the scene was self-contained. It absolutely was self-contained, in a sense. Queercore existed within its own space. It was exclusive to the queer community. Yet it’s important to remember that queercore was unifying. It provided a space for queer people of all stripes to come together and simply exist. There was no prerequisite for queercore other than being queer.
III. Such Bands are Dangerous
“Eventually I was like, I gotta play with lezzies.” – Kaia Wilson
While the Toronto zine culture represented by BIMBOX and J.D.s was hugely influential, it is in the music of queercore that its politics were most visible. Music had always been central to the burgeoning queercore scene, even when there wasn’t much of a scene at all. J.D.s was notable for their Top Twenty, which featured songs from queer artists (Torres). Early on in the production of the zine the list was simply a playlist of punk bands with gay themes, given that there weren’t many explicitly queer bands (Teixeira). J.D.s Top Twenty was influential in that it suggested the existence of a scene. There barely was a scene, but the playlist gave the idea that there was one. The scene existed “in glimpses,” and it required more bands to truly exist (Wobensmith qtd. in Rathe). Queer bands began popping up in the wake of the zine scene, with San Francisco as the “unofficial capital” of queercore (Rathe). These bands served a crucial purpose: they allowed queer punks to find others like them and form bonds within the community. This sentiment is best expressed by musician Donna Dresch:
I needed to play with people like myself. I needed to find girls who understood the music I liked. That’s when Kaia’s band, Adickdid, and Hazel came through town, and I was like, I’ve gotta hang with these girls. I grabbed Jody and Kaia and was like, “We have got to do this.” From then on, we were a band. (qtd. in Rathe)
Queercore was essential because it allowed queer people to find others exactly like them. Without the queer zine community and the then-nascent music scene, Dresch would likely never have been able to form a band with queer women such as herself. Several other musicians quoted in the same piece echo Dresch’s words (Rathe). Queer musicians were forming bands both because they felt like they had to and because they could. Queercore musicians were also driven by a sense of community. Musicians within the scene were operating with the explicit knowledge that they were creating music by and for queer people. The sense of queer solidarity within the movement is encapsulated in this anecdote from feminist writer Sara Marcus:
I remember seeing Rachel Carns before a show, drawing in her eyebrows and mustache with a Sharpie in the side-view mirror of their van and saying, “I don’t care if straight people come to our shows. We’re not doing this for them. They don’t have to come, and we don’t need them to feel welcome.” (qtd. in Rathe)
This quote reflects both the queer solidarity present within the movement and the insular, closed-off nature of queercore described by du Plessis. Queercore was open to queer people of all stripes, but it was explicitly queer and was intended to be consumed only by those within the queer community.
Queercore music was largely driven by personal experience. Note that in this case “personal experience” is a broad term. Queercore bands drew on personal experiences in the sense that nearly all bands in the scene wrote about what they knew and what was relevant to them. For example, the Team Dresch song “Growing Up in Springfield” relates the story of guitarist Kaia Wilson’s gay crush on a girl who was deeply homophobic. The Tribe 8 song “Wrong Bathroom” similarly draws on personal experiences in order to comment on the difficulty of using a public restroom as a gender nonconforming person. This focus on known experiences is a reflection of the feminist mantra that the personal is political. This phrase was first published by feminist writer Carol Hanisch in her 1969 essay “The Personal is Political”, where she argues that raising consciousness through the sharing of personal experiences can be just as valuable as large-scale political action (Hanisch). Reflecting this feminist influence, the queercore scene produced music that was personal and deeply human. Historian David Ensminger contextualizes the music of the scene thusly: “For Outpunk zine founder Matt Wobensmith, queercore … ‘redirected punk to recognize the human element,’ where politics was not theoretical but a real matter of consequence”. Queercore bands humanized punk by making it a personal affair.
San Francisco queercore band Tribe 8 focused on issues relevant to them as lesbians, covering topics ranging from sex with dominant femme women (“Femme Bitch Top”) to lesbian culture (“Neanderthal Dyke”). The band was founded in 1992 and led by trans man and self-proclaimed “freak” Lynn Breedlove (Harvey, MacLeod). Although Breedlove is a man, he still identifies as a “dyke” (Chonin). While this may seem contradictory to some, Breedlove proudly accepts this idiosyncrasy as one of the things that makes him a “freak” (MacLeod). Tribe 8’s lyrics were generally vulgar and crude and yet they all stem from lived experiences. Their vulgarity is secondary to the fact that the band were simply commenting on what they knew as queer people. Take, for example, “Butch in the Streets”:
Takes off her hard hat, runs her hair through her crew cut, but don’t let all those muscles fool you
She’s a walking paradox in her jeans and her docs, sporting big ugly tattoos
She goes home throws her legs in the air, hoping no-ones heard the news
She’s a butch in the streets, femme in the sheets, she’s just a girl when she goes home
The protagonist of the song may in some ways scan as a caricature, but she’s almost certainly based on real women the band encountered. The band’s lyrics are crude, yes, but they are also blunt, direct, and unflinchingly real. The lyrics paint a vivid, almost life-like picture of this woman whose sexual role doesn’t match up with her day-to-day presentation. Tribe 8 don’t shy away from touching on sexual subject matter and instead seem to embrace it. The song revels in its embrace of female sexuality, as the lyrics go on to describe how the protagonist “wants to get plowed like everybody else” and prefers being “belly up in bed.” The song also reveals Tribe 8’s more humorous tendencies, as the lyrics play up the protagonist’s stereotypical butch lesbian traits for comedic effect.
This embrace of humor and sensuality reflects what Russian philosopher Mikhail Bakhtin would term “the carnivalesque.” In the book Rabelais and His World, Bakhtin posits that the carnivalesque is defined by an inversion of social hierarchies, a focus on sensuality and vulgarity, and the dissolution of the barrier between audience and performer (Dechaine 12-13). Author Robert Dechaine borrows this definition to argue that queercore uses the carnivalesque as a method of subverting heteronormative culture. Dechaine uses Pansy Division as an example of the carnivalesque in queercore. The band formed in San Francisco in 1991 and toured with Green Day in 1994. This tour, along with an MTV spotlight the following year, garnered them a significant audience (Dechaine 18, 23). Pansy Division, Dechaine argues, exhibit elements of the carnivalesque due to the explicit and often humorous nature of their lyrics (27). He goes on to argue that their lyrics are also carnivalesque in that they offer a temporary escape from the oppressive nature of society (27). Like Pansy Division, Tribe 8 also consistently use elements of the carnivalesque. “Butch in the Streets” is vulgar, sensual, and propelled by a mocking sense of humor that seems to both poke fun at lesbian culture and embrace its perceived ridiculousness. One could also argue that queercore as a whole dissolves the barrier between audience and performer. Queercore shows relied heavily on audience participation, as hinted at by Tribe 8 frontman Lynn Breedlove:
I got one of those $10 dicks — you know, a dollar an inch, at the porno store — and I was waving that shit around and singing about rape. It was somewhere in Kentucky, and it was strapped on, and I was waving this giant knife. Everyone was in this swarming pit of fury, yelling, “Cut it off!” I did and threw it into the crowd. That started a tradition of bringing rubber dicks on tour … You had to get a blowjob before you chopped off the dick, because if you had a song about chopping the dick off and then you had the blowjob song, you were fucked because you didn’t have a dick to suck anymore. (qtd. in Rathe)
The barrier between audience and performer had been essentially removed, as the band invited audience participation and bowed to the audience’s requests. At the audience’s insistence that the strap on be chopped off, the band did exactly that. Tribe 8 broke the barrier between audience and performer by letting the audience decide, in some ways, how the concert would go.
IV. Assessing the Impact
“ I can’t tell you how many letters I got from people saying they would have killed themselves if they hadn’t heard the band. I’m blown away we had that impact on people. We’re just four dykes who make music.” – Donna Dresch
The reality is that the scene was remarkably successful. It accomplished its stated goal of creating unity and embracing diversity within the queer community. The queercore scene was wildly diverse. With J.D.s, LaBruce had intended to create a scene welcoming of all, as stated in the following:
(It wasn’t just) queer punks, but also prison shut-ins, prostitutes, oppressed racial minorities, transgender people… anyone who went against the grain and had similar interests, sexual deviance and radical politics … we were fighting the gay mainstream by promoting no division between gays and lesbians, by being inclusive of queers of all races, ages, genders and sexual persuasions. (qtd. in Hall)
The queercore scene was essentially meant to be radically inclusive. By promoting such diversity, the scene could subvert the rigidity and conformity of the gay mainstream. At the time that queercore began to develop, the gay mainstream was, according to Noxzema, “a complex network of selfish, over-educated, self-appointed rich people overseeing a vast fake-democratic lesbian and gay multi-national bureaucracy that dictates how we think, dress, act and fuck,” (qtd. in du Plessis). Queercore was the balm for this quickly ossifying culture. The scene was diametrically opposed to prioritizing one identity over another and offered no rules as to how one should dress or act. Queercore was, for all intents and purposes, successful on this count. The punk scene as a whole has become more diverse, which is something that can be largely attributed to queercore. In a 2016 interview with Dazed, LaBruce states, “When I go to punk shows in Toronto, things have improved drastically in terms of the inclusion of girls, queers and transgender people,” (qtd. in Hall). This is the legacy of queercore. That the musical landscape has changed and diversified can be attributed to many causes, yes, but chief among those causes is queercore. Without that scene, punk may very well have continued to wallow in the wave of homophobia it experienced in the 80s (Ensminger 57).
Queercore’s success can also be measured by one extremely important metric: its impact on fans. Queercore music was life-changing for many of its fans. One of the scene’s main functions was to establish an inclusive queer community and allow for queer punks and other misfits to find others just like them (Rathe). For many young queer people, queercore was their first exposure to the queer community. This sentiment is echoed by actress and artist Jena Von Brucker, who states, “People in small towns were writing G.B. and Bruce, ‘Oh, my God, I thought I was the only person on Earth who felt this way!’” (qtd. in Rathe). Queercore was hugely impactful in this sense. By creating a diverse queer community, queercore exposed many disenfranchised queer people to the existence of a community full of people just like them. The massive impact that the scene had on young fans is illustrated beautifully in this anecdote from Pansy Division drummer Luis Illades:
One kid ran away from the home of his super-Christian family and came to our show. He had all of his belongings with him, and he came to see Pansy Division because there was nowhere else for him to go. He asked us to give him a ride to wherever we were going next. He was 15, and it was heartbreaking. He had come out to his family, and his father tried to beat him up and kicked him out. He wanted to escape with the gay circus. (qtd. in Rathe)
For young fans such as the boy in the story, queercore was the only escape from a life of oppression and misunderstanding. When reading through this story and others like it that illustrate the impact of queercore music on disenfranchised queer kids, it becomes hard to argue that the scene wasn’t successful. After all, if saving people’s lives isn’t a marker of success, what is? Although this interpretation may seem overly sentimental and moralistic, queercore’s impact cannot be overstated. The music offered a temporary escape for many who otherwise would never have found such an outlet.
It would be all too easy to say that queercore was successful in all its goals and simply leave it at that. However, the scene was still flawed in some minor ways. Queercore, like any other scene, saw its fair share of infighting. G.B Jones and Bruce LaBruce split up after LaBruce saw success for his film No Skin Off My Ass and immediately divided the community into two camps: those who supported LaBruce and those who supported Jones (Rathe). The ever-controversial Johnny Noxzema of BIMBOX fame became involved in the feud and sided with Jones. Noxzema, best characterized as a “piece of work” and someone who was “Machiavellian behind the scenes,” wasted no time in lobbing insults at LaBruce (Rathe). However, his alliance with Jones didn’t last for very long. According to Jena Von Brucker, who had worked with both Jones and Noxzema, it was easy enough to bond with him over a common enemy but difficult to work with someone who so consistently criticized others (qtd. in Rathe). Despite this bout of infighting, the scene was still generally rather unified. Because queercore bands existed all across the United States and Canada, a case of regional infighting wasn’t likely to take the scene down with it (Teixeira).
Queercore has also been criticized for perhaps not being as diverse as it set out to be. In a profile of J.D.s, Pitchfork editor Eric Torres criticizes the zine for not painting a racially diverse picture of the queer community, stating:
J.D.s was more concerned with providing a platform for nonconforming sexuality and taboos that stemmed directly from Jones and LaBruce’s lived experiences (and those they culled from readers) in the mid-’80s punk scene than a racially all-encompassing one.
J.D.s was limited in that the authors could reference nothing other than what they’d experienced as white queer people. However, both authors were adamant that the queercore community be open to queer people of all kinds. Even if one were to accept Torres’ claim that J.D.s was not racially all-encompassing, his criticism says nothing of the scene as a whole. Queercore was always meant to be diverse, and to say otherwise would simply be false. Among the scene’s most visible artists were Latinxs such as Martin Sorrendeguy and African-Americans like drag queen Vaginal Creme Davis (Rathe). Queercore set out to be diverse, and it absolutely was. In order to deny that claim one would have to willingly close oneself off from the truth and ignore the rich history of the scene.
All in all, queercore was hugely successful. The scene broke down barriers in the gay community and fostered a community where all queer folk were on equal footing. Within the scene, no single identity was valued over another. This was, after all, the intent of the movement and in this sense it was hugely successful. Although a zine like J.D.s may arguably have had a questionable relationship with race, this says nothing about the scene as a whole (Torres). Queercore was always meant to be open to all, and it absolutely was. The diversity that the scene championed can still be seen in punk shows to this day, as the punk community is now home to queer kids and people of color (Hall). That much of what queercore fought against is still an issue isn’t a sign that the scene failed but that queer anarchy will always be relevant (Hall). As stated by Vaginal Creme Davis, “If you are mindlessly happy and content with this system of things you are a slug, inert and not prime for advancing culture,” (qtd. in Hall).
1. Title is a reference to the Team Dresch song “Fagetarian and Dyke” from the album Personal Best. It is also important to note that “fagetarian” doesn’t have a definition and is used here only as a reference to the song.
2. Scene is used in this essay to refer to a musical or artistic community
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Esteban Restrepo is a freshman at Florida State University majoring in Editing, Writing, and Media. He has a passion for music and is especially interested in documenting the cultures that grow around music scenes. In the future, he hopes to use his love for both music and writing to pursue a career in music journalism.