This Pride Month, we’re feeling especially proud. That’s why we’re speaking with rising LGBTQIA+ artists all month about their music, influences, and what ‘pride’ means to them. Today, it’s emerging pop talent Shobsy.
A singer/songwriter from Dublin, Shobsy’s music combines anthemic stadium pop nostalgia with contemporary soundscapes. From the moment the former State Lights frontman went solo, it’s become increasingly clear just how formidable his songwriting talents are. Fusing influences from 80’s synthpop with 90’s arena rock, Shobsy’s pop is the result of a modern classic musical upbringing, the likes of Bowie and Mercury becoming idols in his childhood. Singles like his debut Vanity and more recently, Driven incorporate the past into his distinct vision of the future. We caught up with Shobsy to find out more about where his music comes from, and how he’s keeping proud this Pride month.
Set the tone for us. Why the arts?
I almost feel that I never really had a choice when it came to the question of pursuing the arts, and in particular music. My earliest memories are all music related, I am able to recall different periods of my life by remembering whatever artist I was obsessed with at that point in time. Music has always provided all context to my life, so very naturally I simply had to pursue it.
Who or what are some of your major influences?
My main musical obsessions as a child growing up were U2, Queen, Elvis, The Beatles and David Bowie. A very solid and classic musical education!
Was there a point in your life where you realised music was your calling?
I was around five years old. My dad showed me footage of U2’s 1987 live music documentary ‘Rattle and Hum,’ and I knew in some odd way then that I had found what I was going to do.
What’s your favourite song in your catalogue, and why?
It changes all the time as being solo is still so new to me! But I genuinely love my latest single ‘Driven’.
Have you been performing live recently? How has that been for you, post-lockdown?
I have toured extensively around Ireland since the lockdown has lifted. It has been absolutely life affirming to be honest to be back out there. Live performance has always been my favourite aspect of music.
Tell us about your connection with your fans?
Connecting effectively with my audience in a live setting has always been my main goal. I spend a lot of time thinking of new ways to entertain and engage with them, and when I get it right they feel like they are part of the show. From the outset in my head, the audience are the show. I’m in service to them, not the other way around.
Probably The Weeknd.
What does ‘Pride’ mean to you?
‘Pride’ for me is history. It’s a symbol of struggle and resistance. It’s important as a community that we never forget this at Pride celebrations. The acceptance that certain countries are beginning to experience should never cloud the memory of those who fought so hard before us for freedom.
How are you celebrating this Pride month?
I will celebrate by watching certain movies I love, like MILK about the incredible Harvey Milk who fought for gay rights in the US.
How do you think the discourse around LGBTQIA+ artists has shifted?
It has changed drastically in the last 30 years. I am not being told to hide my sexuality in order to maintain certain fans, or to keep in check how I present myself for fear of being ‘outed’. Unlike many popstars and public figures of the last few decades who faced years of depression and hardship from having to hide from the world. I feel extremely lucky.
What work still needs to be done?
I feel the music business has changed a lot, and am currently very proud of the music industry’s approach to the artists in the community. I feel however in the world of sports this is not yet the case. I would love to see sports people feel more encouraged to be who they are. It is starting to happen which is wonderful to see, I hope schools, sports fans, team managers and official boards all continue to help facilitate this shift.
Do you have any goals to shift the industry through your work?
My main aim is to bring great music with genuine feeling and meaning to the mainstream. I am not saying there is no music of this sort in the mainstream, but I feel the mainstream was at one point a more soulful and less ‘written by numbers’ place.