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All-Queer, All-Women Synth/Rock Pop Band Inspiring Youth to Be Their Authentic Selves

Photo by Paul Aurora

Seeing someone unabashedly be their authentic self can be incredibly motivating and exciting. There’s no better example than the all-queer, all-women synth/rock pop band Hyaenas.

Sophie Heppell (guitar, vocals), Jessie Robertson (bass), Jen Foster (drums) and Luvia Petersen (synth) are the Hyaenas. The group often jokes about the name, “We always make the joke that all the good band names and most of the bad band names have already been taken,” says Heppell.

The group’s first working title was ‘Hot n’ Tidy,’ a play on the phrase “hot mess,” examining how the group was a little older and a little more organized. However, that name didn’t stick. It wasn’t until Robertson came across an article about the hyena that the name Hyaenas came into play, says Heppell.

“They’re a matriarchal society, so they’re ruled by an alpha female, which you don’t see a whole lot of in the animal kingdom.”

Something interesting about hyena anatomy is they have an elongated vulva that functions as a pseudo-penis, allowing complete control over copulation. For the all-women group, the concept is empowering that this creature has full authority over itself and its anatomy. “The OG (original) feminists.)

Hyaenas explore these ideas and concepts of empowerment and self-determination in their work and branding themselves as a queer band because that is who they are. Playing at numerous pride festivals in smaller cities, the group met younger generations, proud of their identities. Heppell explains although she came out during a time when being queer was more accepted, something that was more challenging and dangerous for those who came out during the early 90s and 2000s. For the group, it’s invigorating to see youth be confident in their authentic selves.

However, there still is resistance towards 2SLGBTQ+ individuals. In November 2022, 26 people were injured, and five were killed in the Club Q shooting in Colorado. There is a growing movement in Canada as well, with groups using the transphobic and homophobic term ‘groomer’ with fringe groups protesting drag events and spouting hateful rhetoric online. This is incredibly concerning for the approximately 1 million Canadians who identify as 2SLGBTQ+, young people (between the ages of 15 and 24) accounting for 30 percent of that. In the past few years, there has been an increase in hate crimes against 2SLGBTQ+ Canadians. In 2021, there were 423 hate crimes motivated by Sexual orientation reported to the police. This was a 63 per cent increase from 2020 and a 59% increase from the previous highest, 265 motivated hate crimes in 2019.

Hyaenas stand as ambassadors for young queer kids, says Heppell. “Although those right and alt-right voices may seem the loudest, I have hope they aren’t the majority. It’s nice to make art, but we definitely try to stand our values behind the art we create.”

With their latest song, “White Rabbit,” passing 17 thousand streams on Spotify, the group is an example of exploring important topics and concepts while building a music career. This is not the first rodeo for the group, having been part of separate groups and channelling those experiences and collective knowledge toward being as successful as possible.

“When I say success, I don’t mean stadium tours. I mean, getting to play fun shows with your friends and making a record. Hopefully multiple records you’re proud of. The advice I would give is to have a plan. It can be so tempting to record a song and release it right away; like it’s finished, let’s put it out into the world. You have to do some research about release cadences. You don’t want to record your songs and release them all at once because then they’re old. You have to play the game a little bit, of release schedules and that sort of thing.”

Heppell also encourages young performers just to be themselves.

Hyaenas’ debut EP, “Little Trophy,” is set to release in early 2023.

Additional Sources:

– Ryan Funk, U Multicultural

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of U Multicultural

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