Music With a Twist

Label Queens

Kirstin Innes finds the thinking behind new LGBT record label Music With a Twist a bit twisted

Earlier this year mammoth record label Columbia sprung the offshoot Music With A Twist, which styles itself as ‘a home for gay artists of all genres to experience mainstream success without having to compromise any part of their identity.’ The label has picked up a fair bit of stick, with derision from various corners heaped on their biggest signing to date, The Gossip (pictured).

The notion of a queer record label is a confusing one, from a title that suggests that music itself is intrinsically straight, to the question of whether contemporary artists like Rufus Wainwright, and indeed The Gossip, have ever compromised their identities in pursuit of mainstream success (er, no . . .).

So, is it a cynical attempt to exploit the pink pound? Well . . . The first release was a glossy and easily-consumed compilation from the soundtrack of lipo-lesbian soap, The L Word. The second, Revolutions, is a showcase of the label’s recent signings. The Gossip are the biggest act here by a country mile, their zeitgeisty punk juxtaposed with lesser known and musically divergent acts Jesse O, God-des & She, Levi Kreis and Kirsten Price. Shoe-horning in as many different genres of music as possible certainly communicates the strength and diversity of LGB and T artists, showing they’re not just ‘gay disco boys and lesbians with acoustic guitars’, as one early reviewer put it.

However, there’s no escaping the fact that, as an album to listen to rather than a concept to applaud, Revolutions is a bit of a hotch-potch. These artists have nothing in common other than their queerness, which makes it difficult to see what sort of audience would buy this. And it may undermine indie queen of cool Beth Ditto’s rep for managing to take on the mainstream on her own terms.

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