1) Hi! Thanks for chatting with us:) Can you start by introducing yourself and the mission of Trans Trenderz?
I’m Blxck Cxsper (they/them). I’m a black, non-binary hip-hop artist from Montreal and the founder of Trans Trenderz. The goal of Trans Trenderz is to bring Black Trans Artists to the stage of the Grammy f***in’ Awards. Lol! In all seriousness, our mission is to uplift the voices of trans and gender non-conforming artists, and we do so in a wide variety of ways.
2) What inspired you to create Trans Trenderz?
At first, Trans Trenderz was the name of a mixtape I curated that only featured trans artists. It dropped on November 6, 2016 at a live show, which was extremely powerful. To be in the presence of trans people, comfortable in their voices and taking up space was beautiful! The next day I felt a bit down, thinking, “Now what?”. That day, I decided to turn it into a more permanent project, and Trans Trenderz the record label was born.
3) I see you have a lot of initiatives within your organization. Can you expand a little more on the programs The Ghostly Beats Project and the Trans Trenderz Music Awards?
The Ghostly Beats Project is an initiative to provide Black Trans Musicians with free resources to monetize their music and grow their career. It started off as me wanting to offer my beats for free for Black Trans Artists, but grew quickly with an outpouring of support from the professional music community. We created a forum where Black Trans Musicians can request services, and music professionals can offer their skills and resources. Also, anyone can share information related to the music industry in the hopes that we can all learn from each other’s experiences. Additionally, the project is now officially collaborating with Studio G Brooklyn (with other studios to follow), to provide world class recording facilities, and Grammy caliber engineers / mixers to create their singles.
We started the Ghostly Beats Project in response to the sudden attention on black lives with the Black Lives Matter movement, but we’ve been organizing and uplifting trans voices with an emphasis on Black Trans Voices for the past few years. One of our most successful demonstrations of this is the Trans Trenderz Music Awards, which was a music award show to celebrate the talents of trans musicians. It was the first time an event like this took place. We believe events celebrating our success are vital to the movement, not just mourning.
4) With the Black Lives Matter movement that people are FINALLY starting to listen to, what change do you hope to see in the music industry?
Black Trans People at the Grammy’s! I’m serious. We need the voices of Black Trans People in the mainstream. The talent is there. The energy, the drive, the songwriting, is all there. It’s just a matter of opening the doors which have always been heavily guarded by the industry’s gatekeepers.
5) Through these initiatives, how have you witnessed the community within Trans Trenderz grow?
Both The Ghostly Beats Project and the Trans Trenderz Music Awards have brought together so many music professionals and artists. When we first opened up nominations for the first Trans Trenderz Music Awards, we received submissions of trans artists all over the USA, and even overseas, most of whom we had never heard of. Not only did we become aware of these artists, but because of the event, they became aware of each other. We see collaborations and conversations happening among them, and we see their confidence navigating the industry at large grow knowing they can play shows with, be creative with, and follow in the footsteps of other trans artists. Additionally, with the Ghostly Beats Project, the community working with trans artists has expanded beyond just the label, but to cisgender music professionals who truly want to help. These initiatives are introducing them to artists who are more than deserving of being heard and prioritized in their work.
6) What does it mean to you to be able to create space for Black trans artists in the music industry?
When I transitioned and started getting visibility as a trans musician, I noticed I was often times the only black trans person in the room. That made me feel very uncomfortable because I’m light-skinned as f***. I can’t represent the black trans community. With Trans Trenderz, people can see how diverse our community is, that there’s not one way to be trans, and that every trans narrative is different. Making space for Black Trans Artists means making that diversity seen broadly across the music industry, making it impossible to tokenize us.
7) How can other Black trans artists get involved?
Black Trans Artists can sign up for an account on our forum and make an introduction post. They can share the link in their networks so the community can grow even more. There are categories in the forum where they can request services. We’ll also be using the forum as we move forward to post about gig opportunities, recording opportunities, and anything else that comes our way.
8) How can people support your record label and Black trans artists? Where is the best place for people to follow you?
You can donate to us on Venmo (@transtrenderz), Cashapp ($transtrenderz), or PayPal (firstname.lastname@example.org) or buy the merch on our website (transtrenderz.com). As a label, we don’t take royalties from our artists. It’s part of our commitment to maintaining our artists’ independence even when they’re signed. We are able to continue our work based on donations and merch sales. To stay up to date on our work, we encourage you to follow us on Facebook (Facebook.com/transtrenderz) or Instagram (@transtrenderz) and join our email list from our website.
Questions by: Misao McGregor