Tunde Olaniran built his audience in Michigan through great shows at places like Loving Touch and the DIY Street Fair in Ferndale. The majority of “Yung Archetype” and “Transgressor” (his first full-length album released in August 2015 on Quite Scientific Records) were recorded in Ferndale, in the basement of his engineer Jon Zott.
“Ferndale has always been such a great city to play,” said Olaniran, who has become one of the most beloved fixtures of an ever evolving Detroit music scene, as well as a driving force within the growing artistic community in Flint where he currently resides.
The genderqueer musician, author, choreographer, and community organizer will be back in Ferndale again on June 3 to perform at Pride.
“Ferndale is a place that feels familiar and always brings back happy memories. Playing and attending Pride in Ferndale will also be new, and it’s fun to see how a city brings its own flavor to Pride,” he said.
Olaniran said he is always busy writing new music and while there is nothing to announce yet, he will perform an array of experimental pop tracks on Saturday, showcasing his hip hop, R&B and punk style that makes him legendary.
What does Pride mean to you in this moment?
Having a Pride festival is important for the LGBTQ+ community. It’s a political act as well as an act of self-love. How much a city and its institutions champion Pride is important. It’s one thing for queer people to come together and bravely celebrate themselves, but it’s another thing for the local government, businesses, clergy and others to say “yes we support our ENTIRE community.” That’s very powerful, and I would love to see that happening across Michigan.
It used to be illegal in the U.S. for queer people to gather and demonstrate, and Pride marches and festivals are a way to remind folks of that too, to say “never again.” Our current administration is openly hostile to LGBTQ+ citizens and it’s important to know that rights and protections need to be actively gained and maintained.
Plus, being (or seen as being) queer in public can be dangerous and scary. We have to make spaces where people can, even temporarily, feel safe, celebrated, joyful, embraced by family and community. The media can make it seem that it’s super easy to be LGBTQ+ in the U.S., and while we do enjoy many freedoms and privileges, I still get messages from young fans in Michigan and other places in the midwest who are dealing with bullying, fear, who cut themselves or are terrified of coming out to their parents. It takes a toll on them, mentally and physically.
What can we look forward to during your Pride performance?
Lots of dancing, bass, vocals, twirling, and quick changes? Haha.
As a social activist, you’re reaching people through your music. What is your message today?
I don’t know that I have a singular message. I am just trying to be good at what I do and make sure that every show makes me feel good and full of joy. If it doesn’t feel that way I try to stop or change something.
Who inspires you? How do you feel about being an inspiration for others?
People I get to work with at Assemble Sound and Allied Media Projects inspire me. My friends inspire me. Other artists inspire me constantly. It’s always touching to hear from fans who say they were inspired to be themselves, to be creative, to finish a workout, to get through their workday. Who wouldn’t be touched by that? Even knowing someone, with all of the choices out there, decided to play a song I created? That’s still mind-blowing to me.
Who are you collaborating with locally right now?
This has been a year of very diverse collaborations for me. I co-wrote/produced, and directed the video for a song called “Hijabi,” with Flint native Mona Haydar. She’s amazing, the video went viral, and it’s pretty intense. Michigan folk legend Chris Bathgate just released his new album “Dizzy Seas,” and I had the pleasure of co-writing and featuring on his current single, “Low Hey.” Detroit-based pop singer Flint Eastwood just released her Broke Royalty EP, and I was lucky enough to co-write and feature on her last single, “Push.” Getting to work with other people on their projects always re-energizes me. I get to take that energy back to my own music and other creative outlets.
What does your fantasy world look like today?
Everyone working together to eliminate poverty and protect the most vulnerable. Great parties and free wifi.