Fostering fun and community to live audiences – by bringing funk, motown and soul along the way – Queer as Funk, a queer-led inclusive band, is set to bring a good funky time to the TD Community Plaza for the Coquitlam Summer Concert Series on Friday, Sept. 2.
“It’s that sort of mission of building community, but it’s building community through real amazing music,” says Jocelyn Macdougall, vocalist and long-time member with Queer as Funk. “That’s how we’re able to build community in a really particular way, that’s rooted in phenomenal music and dance.”
With the band coming up on its ten-year anniversary, Macdougall says there’s been a lot of time to reflect on not just the musical process, but also the role the band serves in a public-facing space.
Bringing people together
When Macdougall first saw Queer as Funk perform eight years ago, she knew she had to try and join them. While she hadn’t ever been in a formal band before, she says she was always that kid who sang into her hairbrush, which would end up translating to some experience with musical theatre.
But seeing now-fellow vocalist Connie Buna’s performance on stage alongside the rest of the band, Macdougall underlines it was a real opportunity to join something special.
“I just saw them and I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, this is incredible,’” she says. “[But] they’re singing all this Motown and they don’t have a backup singer, they don’t have a doowop girl… so I worked hard to get my foot in the door, but I’ve been very fortunate to be singing with them for eight years.”
For Macdougall, Queer as Funk is all about bringing people together, ensuring first and foremost that includes queer people. The band features members from the LGBTQ+ community and allies, and has played everything from small-town pride events to weddings of all varieties.
Throughout it all, Macdougall believes the band has brought queerness to the fore in a fun and welcoming way, that stands to benefit all audiences.
“[It’s] making space for queers to sort of fly their flags, but also inviting everyone to be part of that… as we lean into the idea that gender is not binary, sexuality is not binary, desire is not binary,” she says. “That is a really beneficial sort of way of experiencing the world that benefits straight folks as well. It’s all about being able to explore all the parts of who you are.”
A free exchange of ideas
As for the band members themselves, Macdougall says it’s an open environment where anyone can share the ideas they have. As members with less formal experience are free to share their ideas with the group, Macdougall explains that the more experienced musicians in the group are often pleasantly surprised by the free flowing musical process.
If an idea gets cut, she adds, it’s never for lack of trying.
“There’s a real spectrum in terms of experience. But when it comes to collaborating together, there’s such generosity and openness. Any ideas get a go,” says Macdougall. “There are lots of ideas that get left on the cutting room floor… [but] it’s because we try it collectively and we’re like, ‘Ah, that didn’t quite work.’”
In addition to the band’s commitment to community, she feels they’re always looking to grow as a group, and offer space and recognition to artists who deserve it.
“It’s important to acknowledge so many of the Black artists we pay tribute to with our music, who did not get the kind of notoriety or recognition they deserved when they were making their music,” she says. “We like to lift up other artists from communities that are different from our own.”
Overall, it’s a key piece of the puzzle for a band that’s committed to bringing queer joy to all.
“It’s important to us because our central mission is about building community,” says Macdougall. “It’s important to raise our own awareness, and by extension helping audiences to raise their own awareness about how all these things are interconnected.”
For more information about Queer as Funk, visit queerasfunk.com
For more on this and other Coquitlam summer series events, visit coquitlam.ca/803/Summer-Concert-Series