WPGM Commentary: Heff VanSaint Is Carving Out Space With Her New EP ‘Odes Of Hope For Sad Bois’

My name is Heff VanSaint, I’m an indie-pop artist from Scotland and my debut EP Odes Of Hope For Sad Bois is out on June the 8th.

I identify as queer and that of course informs how the world sees me. And although being queer does from time to time show up in the subject matter of my music, the songs I write aren’t exclusively about queerness. They tackle all the universal themes that everyone can relate to.

Where being queer has a huge bearing on me as an artist is in the prejudices it can trigger in some listeners. Often audiences subconsciously screen out artists and music that they consider belongs to a different subculture than the one they identify with.

It can be hard to break through to some audiences who have already made their minds up about who you are as an artist based on your aesthetic and how you identify. This can definitely be frustrating as I write music that’s for everyone.

The themes of love, loss and heartache are universal and I want everyone to be able to relate. A heartbreak is a heartbreak whether you’re gay straight and everything in between.

It’s also a weird position for audiences to take, given that queers have been listening to quote unquote straight music for years. That being said, I love my queer fans and I’m glad that they have instantly been able to vibe with what I’m about.

That’s why I want to represent queer and masculine of center individuals through being visible and vocal on issues affecting our community. This can be challenging when so many venues and showcases have an almost one in one out policy when it comes to platforming queer artists.

It sometimes feels like they think that if they have one queer artist on their bill they’ve ticked their diversity box and if that artists not you then tough.

This is massively frustrating as I know first hand how important it is to see yourself represented in music. Upcoming artists need to feel like there’s a space for them to be their authentic selves.

As creatives we need to be as authentic as possible in all areas of our performances or we run the risk of shrinking ourselves and our crafts in order to fit a certain standard or expectation. Luckily there are some amazing promoters out there that want to platform queer artists and give them a voice.

I think not looking gender-typical is more common than we realize. So many people, especially the youth don’t present in a heteronormative way and I think its important that we have that reflected in our music and our artists.

It’s still all too common to see artists especially female ones presented and packaged in a way that’s intended for the male gaze and part of just being my authentic self as an artist is about challenging that and providing a real world example of someone who doesn’t fit those outdated norms.

I think for a long time only really having cis male role models in music, meant that I never really thought about the aesthetics of me as an artist.

I had plenty of musical idols growing up who I tried to emulate in terms of their lyrics and songwriting but very few icons that had a style I felt was aspirational and achievable.

So I guess I kind of shelved any plans for how to style myself as a performer, when I didn’t think just being myself was viable. Now I know that it is, or at least that I’m just going to do it anyway, its allowed me to look at myself as an artist more holistically.

By not holding back with how I style myself that freedom has spilled out into my writing and made my songwriting more honest overall.

To everyone reading this I hope what I’m saying resonates. We all need to carve out spaces to be ourselves, without getting cut off or restricted.

Listen to my new EP Odes Of Hope For Sad Bois below and stream it everywhere else here.

Words by Heff VanSaint // Follow her on Instagram + TikTok

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