G-7L1BQ01JC4 google-site-verification=FcHx71H1bjVosBa3N5PbNSP0lPlz9dKW5Fnb3zbHVBI Wuhryn Dumas - In the Key of Q

Episode 7

Wuhryn Dumas

“It is possible to be this entity, this identity, this fearless Black, Queer person.”

Wuhryn Dumas was born in Atlanta, Georgia and makes beautifully positive music. His style is a blend of funkadelic Pop, R&B, House, Jazz and not to forget an undertone of Soul. His first six-track EP, ‘Glitter On Fire’ was released in 2020 after 2018’s premier single, ‘Chemistry’.

Topics covered in the episode include the power of Androgynous identity; the unfortunate absence of joy in Urban Music and Hip Hop; growing up Black and Queer in Atlanta, Georgia (yes the dolls and wearing shirts for wigs!); toxic masculinity with the traditions of the barbershop; the masks that we all wear in life and the magic of Prince and Michael Jackson.

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Transcript

TRANSCRIPTION

SERIES 1, EPISODE 7

WUHRYN DUMAS

Dan:

If you're loving this podcast, please support the show by visiting patreon.com/inthekeyofq. For as little as three pounds a month, approximately five dollars, you can enjoy all sorts of exclusive content, including our series Songs to Save From Armageddon, in which the guests discuss their top five favourite tracks ever. That's at patreon.com/inthekeyofq. Thank you very much.

Dan:

Now, normally when I edit these episodes, it tends to be before the working day begins. So I tend to be at the edit suite as the sun comes up. And I can't think of an artist better than the guest I have today that encompasses that sense of the sun rising. He is so optimistic and just full of brightness and sunshine. It's going to be an absolute delight to share him with you. Please enjoy this episode.

Wuhryn:

To know that I'm fearlessly being everything that I was afraid to be and wanted to see, and that I can be there for those boys that are out there right now feeling like and I know there's a lot of them feeling that way. It is possible to be this entity, this identity, this, you know, fearless black, queer person.

Dan:

Hello, I'm Dan Hall. I love popular music and have spent my life translating mostly hetero normative songs onto my gay experience, but I think it's time I found my own voice directly and without translation. So in this podcast, I'm going in search of musicians from around the world who inspire and mirror my own Queer journey. Welcome to In the Key of Q.

Dan:

This week, I would like to welcome the most wonderful Wuhryn Dumas.

Wuhryn:

Thank you. Hello, how are you? Thank you for having me.

Wuhryn:

I consider myself androgynous, but overall, I am a Queer pop artist. And my whole just is to bring joy, bring back feel-good music, bring back, you know, music videos and make you go, wow, you know, it's nothing wrong with having a good time and partying and, you know, all of the glamorous things that are in the music industry and that people look up to today. But I feel like the soul of it all is missing.

Dan:

When you do feel the feel-good started to wither on the vine and vanish?

Wuhryn:

Maybe around 2008, 2009, because you remember we used to have a lot of dance music in the 2000s and it was all about, you know, choreography. And for me, if you're dancing, that's where feel-good music is. And then it started to shift into a lot more, which is nothing wrong with Urban Music, because I still love Hip Hop. I love, you know, to get, you know, my little backbone sometimes. But I feel like it's so saturated that. The R&B feels that we used to have in music like in the 90s and things like that, you don't really feel that anymore on the radio.

Dan:

Your key look, I would suggest is a very joyful one. I mean, all people have to do is look at the beautiful artwork that you create for your songs.

Wuhryn:

I'm really like very visual in with anything, with everything I've always been that way. You know, when people tell you to, oh, you should enjoy the book, I'm the one that's like I'm going to enjoy the movie because I see a lot of things, even when things aren't there. When I listen to any type of music, I instantly have a music video on my head. If it makes someone wonder or if it makes someone stop, even if they're like not used to seeing a certain look, it opens up their mind to possibilities of being if that makes sense. And that's the whole thing with androgyny, I believe, is that, you know, if you're bridging the gap of femininity and masculinity, you know, it makes people realise like objects and things really are objects and things. It's not you're not going to fall off a cliff if you wear an article of clothing that isn't predominantly for your sex or what society tells you you have to wear, it makes you realise, wow, if these things could correlate with each other and I'm feeling joy regardless, there's no limit to what I could be like.

Wuhryn:

I was extremely shy like I mean to where I'm walking in the cafeteria and I'm covering my face. And having to go through being bullied and learning to accept myself, because we all have those moments where we don't like things about ourselves and we have to embrace those things that we don't like.

Wuhryn:

You know, I've always known that I was Queer since I was seven and, you know, learning myself and accepting my own self, because there are moments in times that I was judgemental because I wasn't, you know, secure with myself. I would say around the time I was 18. I started going out to like bars and things like that. Of course, I couldn't drink, but I still was around the community. And this is what I was able to really embrace and learn about myself, because I didn't have anyone Queer in my family. I didn't have anyone to, you know, tell me about the other side of my life that everyone is trying to pull me away from.

Dan:

So did you grow up in Brooklyn?

Wuhryn:

I know I grew up in Atlanta, Georgia. I actually moved to Brooklyn a year ago. And so I'm still a new apple, but I'm definitely strictly a Georgia peach! And, you know, growing up in Atlanta, I had a lot of problems with my mom when it came to me being Queer because she didn't understand it herself. And, you know, with that, I didn't understand it. And I also was shielding things away from myself.

Wuhryn:

One of my aunts told me that my aura just gave off Queerness. And that's that says a lot, because if you're three, you don't even know what that is. You're just being yourself. And I know my mom definitely felt that.

Wuhryn:

When I was seven, there was an incident that happened with one of my family members where he called me a sissy and, you know, I say incident, because I never had anyone talk to me that way before. And I was so young. And I knew what was going on because I always, you know, when I was little, I think a lot of gay boys can agree with this, we put the shirts on our head as for wigs and I would always be around women. I was I just felt so natural and just at ease being around women. And, you know, I would play with the dolls. And when I saw men, I lit up where I'm like, oh my God, this is an amazing, beautiful species like what's going on? And, you know, being in school, being picked on, being yourself and being called all these names over and over and over and over and feeling like an outcast. It does a lot to you and you. I know me personally. I cannot turn it off. I can't pull myself in and try to be straight acting. I never was that type of person. If anything, I was quiet. I didn't talk as much. So because I knew that it would be issue.

Dan:

Was the only way that you could hide your queerness was to simply hide being a person?

Wuhryn:

I'm that is crazy as it sounds, yes. And there is also a reason why I was a people pleaser, I wanted to make sure people didn't dislike me and I wanted to still be a part of things, but not do too much to where I'm the centre of attention and getting picked on, you know, and I feel like in high school is when I had the most trouble, because there were times I thought about taking my life because I felt like I couldn't be myself. And it's like, if I can't be myself, why am I here? You know, if you can't walk the way you want to walk, if you can't wear what you want to wear, if you can't listen to what you want to listen to without someone saying, oh, you're listening to Beyonce say that's so gay or is so many things about yourself that you naturally embrace that nobody wants you to do you feel like what's the purpose of being here? Doing that I kind of made a shadow of myself and I dimmed my light.

Dan:

Wuhryn, we had a guest on episode one, our very first episode, Matt Fishel, who speaks in that about the extensive bullying he encountered at school at what you would call high school.

Wuhryn:

Mm hmm.

Dan:

And he said something which I think would resonate with a lot of us. He talked about what a joyous child he was, but that he very nearly had the joy bullied out of him.

Wuhryn:

Mm hmm.

Dan:

How did you stop that happening to you?

Wuhryn:

You know. Is this a really great question, because I love these questions, because I never really thought about that. I would say, my confidence came through art, truly, and whether it be dance class... I'm also a visual artist, I draw and paint and being aware around that community, whether it be drama class, doing plays and chorus, those things truly kept me alive and you know, I honestly hated school, half of that is because of the bullying, like I have people be very nasty and dirty towards me just because. And because I had those outlets, I was able to still express myself and have joy and be as colourful as I want it to be, and it was embraced by those other people.

Dan:

For people who have not been in this situation, I cannot begin to describe to you what it is like watching literally every breath you take for every moment of your life except when you shut your bedroom door and you're alone in it. It is exhausting.

Wuhryn:

Absolutely. It's so exhausting. Like think about trying to watch being Black and in Atlanta think about going to a barbershop and, you know, you don't really grow up with your dad. So you're going alone or you're going with your mother. It's already this freakin notion of who you are, especially if you move a certain way. People can pick up on that.

Dan:

For those of us outside America, can you explain to us the culture of the barbershop?

Wuhryn:

So the barbershop, the culture of the barbershop is mostly where a lot of heterosexual men will be watching television, talking about game, you talk about awards shows you talk about a lot of things that go on in the community or you just there's a lot of discussions that happen in the barbershop as well, whether it be about women, gay people, any topic truly, you know. Men gossip as much as women do! And being in the barbershop, you will have those moments where everyone is outspoken and everyone's saying what they have to say. But sometimes in some Black barbershops, you know, it's kind of a elephant in the room when a Queer person walks in, especially if you are proud of yourself and you walk in and you just want to get a shape-up. But unfortunately, sometimes it's very hard to exist in those realms because people are not comfortable with the Queerness at times.

Wuhryn:

Finally, my confidence, I would say, around the age of 18 and going into the community, I would see drag queens and there was something inside of me that was like, what is going on here? I was like feeling like, this is wrong. This shouldn't be happening. And not realising that that was me casting things onto myself, that I wasn't comfortable enough to wear girl article clothing or be feminine and in outward space because I was always told that I couldn't do these things.

Dan:

It always surprises me that as a community, as a subjugated community, we are very, very willing to subjugate each other. It's almost like we try to make ourselves feel a little bit less out by making sure that someone's further out than us.

Wuhryn:

Oh, yes, you should understand what someone is feeling when you are going through the same thing and may not be exactly the same entity, exactly the same identity, but you are still one and the same. And if anything is, you should be uplifting someone. And that's what I'm all about with my art. I know it sounds very pageantry. I really want everyone to be able to express themselves. I mean, I feel like the world is truly androgynous already. They just don't realise it.

John:

Hey, this is John from the Song Surfing Podcast. Song Surfing is a playlist of independent music pulled from the far reaches of the Internet. I've been searching for music on Bandcamp, SoundCloud, Spotify, schleps, audio, Instagram and a few others. And in each episode of Song Surfing, I present some excellent tunes by a diverse group of interesting independent artists. So if you like to discover new artists and explore some music from around the world, then come song surfing with me. Song Surfing is available on all podcast apps as well as Spotify and Amazon.

Wuhryn:

When you know there are female singers or rappers that aren't even close to being Queer can display these acts of homosexuality and it's, you know, it's hot or it's like, oh, that's great. Is art once a male does it it's like, oh, well, let's just keep it over there in the gay world or let's just leave it over there, we can't air this on TV or we can't show this. It's like, oh, why are people so honed onto that where it's like, it's absolutely forbidden for a man to be this way. And when women do it, it's like, oh, OK, we're it's art. It's beautiful. It's amazing. And I will never understand that

Dan:

We have a situation where we have people saying they're straight acting and they're in their plaid shirt. And that is just as much drag as somebody who is in a fantastic dress and has got makeup. It's just a different type of drag.

Wuhryn:

Absolutely! You are so correct. And that's why I love when RuPaul says we are all born naked and the rest drag. You know, I mean, it makes me remember that, you know, when I'm doing my art, I can become another version of myself. And if you realise there's so many versions of yourself that you put on, all these masks are drag. You know, when you're being a brother, that you're being a friend to someone, you're being this and that to someone, those are all roles. And you have to act in those certain parts. And then when you are putting on these articles of clothing, you're bringing a certain appearance to the world and you want people to believe this is a certain part of yourself. When there's still another part of yourself that you're trying to not so you know. I know for me, I had to realise, OK, what do I want to be once I got out of high school? You know, you're funny, your independence, and you have the choice to be who you want to be. And you know, me going against what my mom is telling me, what I should be. I had to realise, like I have to accept myself and accept that unfortunately, in this world, you're going to have to go through a lot of more things. You know, it's one thing to be Black and deal with the world. And I think I think having that problem first for me kind of helps with me being Queer at the same time, because you're already being defied all these other things with being Black as well as being a black man, but then adding on the Queer, you have to honestly, you have thick skin and you have to truly put on armour and stand in yourself. And I had to realise in order for me to live in this world, I have to embrace myself, but then also embrace those in my community.

Wuhryn:

I had Prince and Michael Jackson, who to me were the closest thing to being Black and Queer. But to know that I'm fearlessly being everything that I was afraid to be and wanted to see. And that I can be there for those boys that are out there right now feeling like and I know there's a lot of them feeling that way, that I can give them some sense of pride and sense of knowing that you can exist this way and it's OK. And that they can listen to it, and even if they have to hide and listen to it, they can still feel like tomorrow is going to be here and I'm going to keep moving forward and I'm going to be who I want to be because I can listen to this person. This person went through this. This person is displaying that it is possible to be this entity, this identity, this, you know, fearless black, queer person. And, you know, honestly, I'm I would die and cry to know that someone is listening and I can have that in their life and feel like they don't have to end anything or they don't have to run away because they have this music. I honestly would be so honoured and just ball and cry. Honestly.

Dan:

I genuinely think you can be really, really proud of yourself. I set up this podcast to promote Queer music because I was lacking it when I was growing up. And there's wonderful people like you out there who are mostly at your own expense, not earning a huge amount of money, having to stay up late and be exhausted and you are doing it and making other people's lives better. And you can be so proud of that.

Wuhryn:

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Dan:

Now, certainly you're not sitting on your laurels, are you? You are continuing to make fantastic Queer music.

Wuhryn:

I will. I'm gearing to give more visuals. Honestly, I want to express more through these songs that I have and hopefully soon, you know, the summer will be filled with a lot of visuals. I'm actually doing a lot of features as well on a lot of other Queer artists music, which I'm very excited about because I haven't really collaborated with anyone as much. And it's going to be so great visually. And like you said, for a lot of Queer, young, Queer black boys out there and Queer boys in general are going to have something to look forward to even more.

Dan:

We will have links to all of Wuhryn's online spaces and do make sure you subscribe to them because his stuff is most definitely going to be worth looking at and listening to. He is a very, very frighteningly talented young man.

Wuhryn:

Thank you.

Dan:

You know what? Set up a podcast. Speak to people who make you feel inadequate.

Wuhryn:

Yo! You are silly.

Wuhryn:

to know that I know that.

Dan:

What would your 15 year old self make of you now and make of the music that you produce?

Wuhryn:

Mmm. Wow, that's a really great question. Wow, 15 year old Wuhryn. Um, honestly, I think the 15 year old version of myself would be gagging right now. I think he would really be like, you truly went out and defied all that you think you you thought you couldn't do because you were Queer. I think he would be shocked that I could pull off some of the things I've pulled off with the budgets that I had. I think he will be extremely proud of the growth as a writer, as a singer most definitely. Um, and, you know, I think he will be happy with the outcome so far. I say that because today, you know, the Wuhryn I am right now is very impatient and wants everything to be already at a thousand. But I think 15 year old me will be absolutely beyond proud and just honestly shocked that any of this is still going on because, you know, at 15, he just kind of let go of his dreams because they got killed and was told that it couldn't happen or that he wasn't good enough. And, you know, or felt like, you know, there was so much lack of support. And I think he will be just sitting in the chair crying at all the things that are happening right now.

Dan:

So then, Warren, for those of our audience who haven't yet discovered your catalogue and they would require one song to particularly seduce them into it, what would you recommend that would be?

Wuhryn:

Oh, I'm going to give 2U my lead single that is out right now with the music video. That song... The funny thing is when I created it I produced a majority of it and I had horn players accompany me with that. And I was so afraid because I'm like, I don't think people are going to understand this song. I don't think people are going to like it, it's crazy, it's quirky. And after I released it, it was just an instant wildfire. And still today, there's so many people listening to it more than a lot of the other songs that I have. And I'm super proud of it. And I think it literally latches anybody on it immediately. So I think 2U would be, definitely the song that will just bring them into all the other music that I have.

Wuhryn:

No had to make me feel like you said that I'm your maybe you said I drive you crazy. So why are you contemplating

Wuhryn:

me that we should never, ever give up giving them all to you, that we should never, ever give me something on my love to you, if you give me your trust, I will always be true to you, maybe should never, ever give me your

Dan:

All that's left to say is a huge, huge thank you to Wuhryn Dumas for joining us today on In the Key of Q. Wuhryn, thank you so much.

Wuhryn:

Well, it was so fun, though. I enjoyed it. It was really fun.

Dan:

And I look forward to looking you up when I come to New York. And please do give me a shout if ever you're going to come to London, because it would be really lovely to show you around.

Wuhryn:

I would love to come out there. You know, the funny thing is so many people tell me that they think I should be a musician out there. They feel like my music fits well in London. And I'm like, listen, whoever calls me to come, I'm coming!

Dan:

Many thanks for listening. Check out the show notes for the Spotify playlist that compliments this episode. And remember, there's exclusive content over at patreon.com/inthekeyofq. Do get in touch. It'll be great to hear from you. The pod's on social media or email me on dan@inthekeyofq.com. And rate and review the show on your podcast provider. It really, really helps. Our theme is by Paul Leonidou at unstoppablemonsters.com. Many thanks to Kajunn Kantha and Moray Laing for their support in making this episode. The show was presented and produced by me, Dan Hall and made at Pup Media Consultancy. See you next Quesday!

© Dan Hall

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