By Kat Hamilton
Kat Hamilton is frontwoman for Brooklyn-based outfit, Manic Pixi.
I have always been an aspiring front-woman. Growing up, if I wasn’t noticed for something great, then I would attempt to be noticed for something bad. My phase as a Hot Topic goth was my “something bad.” I was the girl who wore knee high striped socks to gym, told everyone I practiced Wicca, and ran for student council just to make the speech.
My second year of college, I started the band I had always wanted to start. A fun, sexy, and exciting live experience that could breathe fresh air into what I saw as a “mopey” scene. At the time, I thought that I was finally expressing my musical identity. I realize now, that I was looking for a way to come out.
I identify as a lesbian. The more years go by, the more comfortable I am with this label. I have to be comfortable with who I am to do what I do. Being a front-person is about exposing yourself. That has always been the difference between front-person and singer to me. Mick Jagger is an incredibly effective front-person, but I would not consider him a singer. A singer could hide if they wanted.
Up until a few years ago, I identified as bisexual, but sometimes music helps you discover parts of yourself that lay dormant. Through writing our album, I realized I was with men for all the wrong reasons: to not be alone, to self medicate with attention, to receive praise, to have instant gratification. The list goes on…
My lyrics revealed what I had never noticed. With each show, I felt more and more naked in front of my audience, so to do my job properly, I developed a strong sense of self. I had to accept myself as well. Through this band and the songs we perform, I discovered who I really was, as if I was watching the performance with a bullshit detector in my hand.
I came out in pieces. We played a show at TT the Bears Place in front of my girlfriend at the time. I was on my game that night, swinging an SM 58 above my head, screaming my face off, and making searing eye contact with the crowd. As I watched her watch me perform, I felt the merging of two identities: the strong front-woman I had always yearned to be, and the love I had always wanted to find.
After we broke up, I had a brief fling with a man. I struggled at our next few shows with a feeling of instability. My musical identity and my personal one have always played cat and mouse with one another. To have feelings for a man crumbled my self-confidence, and it showed on stage.
If I feel sure of who I am, the stage looks different and the songs sound different. On nights where I feel insecure, I'm naked in that insecurity and it’s terrifying.
People often ask me why I wear a stage costume. The act of putting on my show clothes mentally prepares me to be exposed emotionally. Although I am proud of my sexuality, some nights I need to prepare for everyone else to see it.
My goal in life is to be the best front-woman I can: To move the most people and to play on the most stages. There is a responsibility to this dream that scares me. It’s the responsibility to stay true to who I am for the sake of my audience.
Coming out for me was a public process. There is always a point of no return where you give yourself to your audience to be judged. Whether or not I ever date a man again is inconsequential. The real issue is being myself at all costs. If I did date a man, I would have to show my audience that part of me. My queerness, my insecurities, and my flaws are in the music. They are in the blind trust exchanged between me, and the stranger in the front row.