By Jewlee of InCircles
My band got it’s start about 10 years ago in a little barn way out east on Long Island. The three of us were all about 15 years old. The three of us being my long time partner in crime, Eric Ponto on bass, our then adorable drummer Abby Campsey, and myself.
Since our inception, we really haven’t stopped playing shows or taken any long breaks. Which people seem to think is pretty radical. If I had actually taken count of each show we’ve played, to be safe, I’d wager we’ve played about 600 shows total.
When it comes to LGBTQ inclusion in the music scene, I can honestly say it’s never really something I have taken into account too deeply. I have been lucky enough to grow into a scene, specifically on Long Island, that tends to be super supportive and inclusive of all kinds of people; so I never had much of a reason to think about it. I just always felt accepted for who I was. (Whatever that was.)
We have plenty of gay, trans, etc folk at our gigs on LI, in NYC, and in the greater northeast region. Since our inception, we always did tend to accumulate the undercurrent of outcasts as our friends and fans. Kids like us - some gay, some quiet, some angry. Stuff like that.
That being said, while I consider myself a member of the LGBTQ ranks, I tend to stay out of the politics of it personally and professionally, not for any particular reason other than the fact that my sexuality has never been a main anchor of identity for me. There are many other aspects about myself that take up much more room than whether I want to hit on women or wear excellent button down shirts and leather boots.
Kind of in a similar vein, I don’t generally identify InCircles as being a “female fronted rock n roll band,” I guess because I have never really identified strongly with either the female or male gender. Sometimes someone will announce us onstage as “female fronted” and I kind of go, “Oh, right! I’m a chick!,” in my head.
There are so many people fighting the gender/identity battle and my hat is absolutely off to them 100%. I just don’t wanna fight. Sometimes, for me personally, it can feel like the trans/gay/etc. discourse can be taxing in itself, thus I tend to stay away from that conversation and just be who I am. Fuck anyone else that it offends.
I’ve always wanted InCircles to be a less political band and more of a band that kids could relate to on a personal level, as if you have someone next to you while you're curled up in the fetal position in your shower. Too personal? I think you know what I mean. I’ll let someone else be the angry upriser. I want to be the shoulder for kids to cry on.
However, it hasn’t been an easy run for us as a band. We bumbled and stuttered our way through awkward adolescence and into adulthood together.
I personally came out as queer at the ripe age of 17. Perfect timing as I had just started high school, broke away from my old friend group, and started eating copious amounts of drugs with the weird, older anime kids in Tripp Pants and XXL Invader Zim shirts.
High school sucked.
Music was the one thing I could cling to and find solace in. Being teased meticulously by the “normie kids” was a daily occurrence, and if I didn’t have my spiral notebooks nearby, I’m certain my future would’ve looked a lot more dismal.
This outlet is my way of connecting with other humans on a deeper spiritual level than I generally am able to attain through regular conversation. Given I tend to be pretty socially impaired, being the lead singer of a band enables me to speak my truths, remove the mask, and connect with people in a profound way.
I noticed a lot of our fans are also kind of like me and feel socially stigmatized and just, uh, uncomfortable in their skin from time to time. That being said, when we hit the stage and our fans are in the front singing along, I see their power come out. They’re no longer the weird kid in the corner. They’re yelling at the top of their goddamn little lungs and making some hard eye contact with me. We become powerful together and it creates this unspoken bond between us, the band, and our fans.
Absolutely nothing inspires me more than the kids who come to the InCircles shows. The energy is real and they know we won’t judge any of them for anything. We’re all here to feel connected and energized. It’s really the most beautiful alchemy I’ve ever seen. Real human connection like this tears down the walls of separation and politics between us. For a few hours we’re all just sweaty moving masses of energy rubbin’ all up on each other and singing along. What the hell is cooler than that? Nothin’.
Jewlee is the lead singer, guitarist, and songwriter of Long Island, New York rock n roll/punk band InCircles, is 22 years old, and identifies as queer and pretty gender fluid depending on the weather, or like, the retrograde of Mercury. You can catch InCircles in Washington D.C. on July 30th at the Tree House Lounge.
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