Queen Crescent’s Dre Genevieve is back with a new solo album, Strangely Free, and is donating proceeds to victims of the Ghost Ship fire.
Oakland-based artist Dre Genevieve is no newcomer to the music scene or to community mobilization, but this may be the first time you’ve heard any of her solo work. With her new album, Strangely Free, Genevieve taps into a different, slightly softer creative side and does so acoustically rather than her usual metal.
If Genevieve’s name sounds familiar, it’s for a good reason — the queer, POC musician is well-known for her work with psych-metal band Queen Crescent and Portland’s all-women metal band Purple Rhinestone Eagle, not to mention her countless contributions to other projects. Currently, she is being mentored by Grammy-nominated India Cooke of the Sun Ra Arkestra.
Dre Genevieve is the definition of a woman who rocks. Even more important, she also truly cares about the world around her and does what she can to make a difference.
After Oakland’s Ghost Ship fire, Genevieve decided to donate 100 percent of her solo album’s digital sales to the victims and survivors of the fire and to local housing-rights organizations.
Along with the help of her partner, the incredibly talented Ariana Jade, and friends Lea de las Lobas and Natalie Alyse (all three on backing vocals and percussion), Strangely Free was produced by Tim Green at Louder Studios.
With these songs of resistance, calls to action and community love, Genevieve creates psychedelic folk blues for a modern generation. Read on to learn more about Dre Genevieve and what inspires her.
Wear Your Voice: What inspired you to get into music?
Dre Genevieve: Music is a very seductive force. It seduced me. Ever since I was very little girl, I’ve been making up songs. I didn’t get into music, music got into me. I know it may sound extremely cliche, but it’s true. Something otherworldly was coming through me and I had to get it out. So, I learned how to play instruments and harness that voice. No one in my family was a musician. I had an older cousin who introduced me to some great music. It helped me start on my path.
WYV: What are your biggest musical inspirations, then and now?
DG: My tastes have changed a lot over the years. When I was young I listened to a lot of riot grrrl and “grunge” bands. For the past 15 years or so I mainly listen to prog rock, international psych, heavy rock and a bit of spiritual jazz. On any given day you might catch me listening to Yuri Morovoz, Carmen Maki and Oz, or Alice Coltrane. I find a lot of inspiration from ’70s-era music, but I like new stuff too. My homies in Once and Future Band and Mondo Drag are excellent song writers. I love being inspired by friends. Kamasi Washington is amazing, too. That brother is deep!
WYV: Aside from music, what are you most passionate about? What draws you to these things?
DG: I love to paint. I’m an avid reader. Social justice movements like Black Lives Matter and NoDAPL are extremely important to me. Besides being a musician, I teach guitar and I’m developing this new music history podcast. I stay busy!
WYV: How can we use music as a tool to resist this terrifying new regime?
DG: Music can be a great modality for healing. It also can rev us up and inspire us to do amazing things. Sometimes the purpose it serves is just to allow us to feel good again in really hard moments. I take being a musician pretty seriously. Musicians conjure, we connect, we ask questions, we story-tell, we record history, we provoke, we help people remember that they don’t need permission to exist. In this age, I feel that this is our responsibility: to jolt people awake. We have a very important role to play in this long fight ahead of us.
WYV: What can allies do to support BIPOC musicians, whether in the industry or as fans?
DG: If you like music created by POC and QPOC musicians and want to support us: come to our shows, buy our merch, buy our music and hype us to your community online and offline. If you have a record label and dig our music, sign us! I see a lot of people in the industry have these online personas where they are “outraged” by Trump, social injustices and whatnot, but at the same time they pass over women musicians, musicians of color, queer musicians, etc. when it comes to signing acts. So be an ally by making the connections between what is happening in the larger world and what you can do in your social microcosm. Backing musicians who are most directly affected by Trump and his cronies is a powerful way to stand up against fascism, whether you are a fan or an industry person. It sends a very clear message that we, as a people, are really fucking over this psychopathic administration and the hatred that undergirds it. Even as a fan, even by just buying someone’s album on Bandcamp, you’re helping an artist continue to speak their truth.
WYV: You’re a well-established Oakland musician. A lot of Bay area creatives lost people we cared for in the Ghost Ship Fire. Tell us how you’ve given back to the community with your EP.
DG: Pretty much all of us lost someone or are close to people who lost friends. It’s unfathomably tragic. All of my digital sales for Strangely Free are going to victims of the Ghost Ship Fire. I’m still collecting money but as soon as I get a decent amount together I will be contacting some people I know who were directly affected by the fire and donating it to the fundraising sites they suggest. There have been a lot of sites started and I want to make sure it goes to the most needed places. Folks out there can hit me up too if you have suggestions.
WYV: What do you think that we can do to build our community up against outside threats like Trump, gentrification and bigotry?
DG: I don’t have the answer to this, but here are some of my thoughts. We need to build community in the real, tangible world right now — not just online. Organize, protest, go to a town hall meeting, do a ritual, book a benefit show, make a meal for homeless folks — just get out and do something.
Having been in many bands, the best performances happen when everyone is locked in and really feelin’ each other. As a community, we need to get locked into each other. We need to feel each other. We need to listen to each other. This is crucial. We need to be each other’s allies and accomplices, not each other’s self-appointed saviors.
And let’s talk about self-care. When we go online and overload ourselves with the horrors of what is going on right now, it literally makes us sick. Spend time completely offline and spend it doing something that actually makes you feel good in a deep way. Otherwise you’ll completely burn out. Too much is at stake right now and all of our voices are needed, so take care of yourselves! And read books, not just news articles. Contextualize this mess. Talk about it with friends. It helps.
WYV: What would you tell a young QTPOC musician getting started?
DG: You are a powerful being. You are loved. You are tapping into something beyond the realm of this dimension and it feels awesome! Have as much fun with it as you can. Practice even when you are feeling sad and overwhelmed. The music will guide you through and it will change your life.
WYV: How do you wear your voice?
DG: Through the loudest amplifiers and PAs I can find.
Besides her solo work, Dre has two upcoming music projects on the horizon. One a music collaboration with ex-Queen Crescent drummer Amy Martinez; the other a new band is with the aforementioned vocalist Ariana Jade.