Song of the Gay: Little Star – Linda Blair

photo by Matthew B. Thompson

Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear.

All this week we are celebrating Seattle Pride and PrideFest 2017 by featuring all LGBTQ artists for our “Song of the Gay” podcast. Today’s Song of the Gay is “Linda Blair” by Little Star, from their 2017 self-titled album on Good Cheer Records.

Little Star – Linda Blair (MP3)Little Star is a Portland-based band led by singer-songwriter Daniel Byers with Julian Morris on bass/backup vocals and Sonia Weber on drums. They recently released their self-titled second album. KEXP Music Director Don Yates described it as, “a potent blend of driving post-punk, wistful dream-pop, dynamic grunge, nervy indie-pop and more, with a variety of well-crafted songs juxtaposing buoyant melodies with anxiety-fueled lyrics”.

Julian is transgender and Sonia is openly gay. Seattle PBS affiliate KCTS recently aired a piece about Julian’s story. Here is an excerpt:

As Julian struggled to come to grips with his feelings of gender dysphoria, his music had become a refuge. Where his gender was a point of wavering and questioning, Julian’s voice, the same one that would start as a seed in his childhood sing-alongs with his father and grow stronger as he aged, kept him grounded. It gave him an identity that made sense: he was a singer.

“There was a huge ball of pain that I was carrying around with my gender identity,” he says. “Singing was a place that I knew I could go to be seen and celebrated and appreciated in the world.”

Julian’s singing voice was never feminine, not exactly. It lived in a more androgynous space occupied by the likes of Tracy Chapman: breathy, gravelly, scraping low notes without ever landing on them directly.

Julian was proud of the androgyny in his voice. But if he needed to, he could still hit notes out of range to most men. He’d lift his chin to pull his larynx tight before jumping to a heady falsetto, as a yodeler might do. And he’d settle there, lingering on vowels, stretching them out long enough to expose the vulnerability in a word. He could make the consonants guarding the space inside “cheeks” or “cracks” feel soft. It was ideal for his brand of folksy rock — strong enough to hold a crowd, soft enough for nuance.

Today’s Song of the Gay is “Linda Blair”. The song is an excellent example of their unique blend of indie and post-punk sounds, featuring a jittery earworm melody and lyrics about, yes, that Linda Blair, the head spinning character from The Exorcist. Singer-songwriter Dan Byers recently shared his songwriting inspirations for the new album in an interview with modern-vinyl.com:

The songs work together as an album because they are all about me and my little drama world in some way. I stayed away from talking about romantic relationships — which filled 2016’s Being Close — and instead I wrote about other types of relationships in my life: the ones I had with prescription drugs, friends, lying, The Exorcist. I tried to draw a picture of another side of my world. Anti-depressants make me feel real numb and I hate that, so some songs were about how they make me feel numb and disinterested in the things I used to like, and how I don’t really know how else to cope without them. I know the whole feeling nothing/feeling too much split is something a lot of people on anti-depressants experience and so some of my songs (like “Mood”) are meant to be hopeful and encouraging for people who struggle with that particular dilemma.

Be sure to catch an in-studio performance by Little Star on a special Pride edition of KEXP’s local music show Audioasis this Saturday (that’s tomorrow!) at 6:30 PM. Until then, find out more about Little Star and listen to more of their music on their Facebook and Bandcamp pages.

Also, on Sunday, June 25th, head over to the 5 Point Café in downtown Seattle at the historic Tilikum Place park for KEXP’s annual Pride Party!

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