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Perpetual Change By Pamela DeGrof — The Cliks

| Nov 27, 2007
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The Cliks Logo Canada is known for more than just being our neighbor to the north. It’s also the exporter of great commodities such as hockey, excellent beer, and of course, very cold weather. The weather thing can be overlooked, even forgiven, because of all the great music that has also come from the Great White North. Rush, Triumph, White Tiger are only a few of the many acts to come from Canada. The Cliks from Toronto, a relatively new band, will no doubt be added to the list of well known Canadian exports soon.

The Cliks are fronted by Lucas Silveira, guitar and vocals. Other members are Jen Benton, on bass; Nina Martinez on guitar, and drummer Morgan Doctor. On the band’s major label debut, “Snakehouse”, the personal is a bit different. Bass was played by Jordon B. Wright. The project was produced by Moe Berg.

The CliksThe band has been gaining attention for their music, but also for the fact that Silveira is a transgendered male. The Cliks were thought of as an “all-girl band” until Silveira transitioned. How he deals with this and other issues are all part of the following interview I was privileged to conduct with Silveira about his music, his band, and his outlook as a transgendered musician who is starting to gain international attention.

TGForum: Your album Snakehouse is your debut project, correct?
Silveira: Before this we had a self-titled album but it was an extremely independent CD. This is our first major label release.

TGF: The Cliks have compared to just about everybody it seems. You’ve been called a “modern day Melissa Ethridge”. There are comparisons to Fiona Apple, David Bowie, The Pretenders. What do you regard as your influence? Are you happy with these comparisons?

Silveira: I’m very happy with those comparisons. I think that’s what people do when they hear music. They say, ‘They kind of sound like…’ It’s only natural. If people want to say I sound like David Bowie, Melissa Ethridge, Fiona Apple…those are pretty hip people to be compared to. Personally, I don’t know who we sound like. I just think we’re a good ‘ole rock and roll band. I’m very influenced by many different artists, some of them included in that list. I listen to everything from Motown to metal. I like everything under the sun. Count Basie said one time, ‘There are only two kinds of music…good and bad.’ That’s the way I look at the world. I don’t care what style it is.

TGF: You covered Justin Timberlake’s Cry Me A River on the album. That’s kind of an unusual choice. You’ve said in another interview that the song was therapeutic because you went through a relationship crisis at the time. Is that the reason?

Silveira: Absolutely. I completely connected with it. I remember hearing it and it came out pretty much at the time I was going through a similar situation. I go through this thing that if I like a song, I start singing it and playing it. It just happened that one day I started playing it for the band. They just kind of hopped on playing it with me. It came out that way because I was feeling intensely about it.

Initially, we never intended to have it on an album, but when our producer, Moe Berg, heard us play it, he said, ‘You have to put that on…’ It just kind of fit the entire relationship/breakup sentiment that the album has. So we took his advice. That’s what we hired him for.

TGF: Does the name, The Cliks, have any special meaning?

Silveira: It’s sort of a play on… um, body parts. When I was thinking of band names, I wanted ‘The…’ and then to be sexy. My girlfriend at the time said The Clits as a joke, but I wasn’t going to name my band that. That’s ridiculous. It’s a variation on two body parts put together.

(Author’s note: When researching the band, spell it the way they do, CLIKS. There is an all-girl band in New York called The Clicks. Two totally different bands, however.)

TGF: In gathering background for this article, I read several interviews and press releases that stated The Cliks started as an all-girl band. Of course that changed when you transitioned. Care to comment on that?

Silveira: I started the band as a band. It’s funny that if you’re female, you automatically get categorized as an all-girl band. Yet, you wouldn’t call Led Zeppelin an all-boy band. I find it very interesting. It’s like it’s extraordinary for females to pick up instruments. I find the term ‘all-girl band’ to be a little bit condescending.

It just so happens that two years ago I started coming to terms with my identity. I just decided I was going to live the way I’ve always felt. I came out, and you know at first, I thought this is gonna be a huge hindrance on my career. I had this conversation with myself where I said, ‘If you’re going to do this the rest of your life, don’t expect to be a successful, commercial musician.’ As soon as I put that behind my head, and I went back to playing for the reason I’ve always done it, which is for the love of it, but with no expectations… the ball just started rolling.

We recorded the album Snakehouse independently, and that was all the music that sort of came out from me after I decided to live my life as a transgendered male. I don’t know if it was the fact that I grew as a person in general, or I was coming more to terms with who I was and touching on something that was more real and more honest, that created the album the album the way it is. Either way, it got picked up. It’s just fantastic that I get to be in this position knowing who I am.

TGF: Do you feel that mainstream media picks up more on the transgender issue than the music?

Silveira: In comparison to the queer media, no… they both pick up on the trans things. It’s interesting to me, because people ask about it. Sometimes it does become a big focus, but I’m okay with that. I’m the songwriter, it’s who I am, and it happens to be my story. I hope that people start focusing on it a little less, but it is part of the music. I’m okay with it. I’m very happy to be a very visible person and a rock musician. It’s interesting that when I do interviews for the queer media, they want to talk about the trans thing more than the music. I would expect to be a little more normalized in that world., but I have to welcome that. I can’t push that away.I can remember as far back as four years old, and from that age I’ve always completely felt that I was a boy. I kind of dealt with it throughout my entire life. You kind of get to a point as a human being where you wonder, ‘What is the easiest way to deal with my life?’ I figured I’m attracted to women, so I’ll live as a lesbian and push this stuff away and forget about it. I lived for a while as a lesbian, but I never really felt connected to that world within myself. I have all these lesbian friends… but I never felt like one. It’s like when you don’t want to be true to yourself that you press things so far down that you end up forgetting them. But your body, your mind, heart and soul are sort of like a boiling pot. If you leave things in there too long, you’ll blow up. That’s what happened to me. It just got to a point where a part of me had to thrust itself out and say, ‘Listen, buddy, this is who you are. Stop trying to not be this, and just be happy.’

TGF: The band has recently played in Europe and you’ve played in the U.S. as well. What kind of audience reaction have you gotten?

Silveira: I think a lot of the people who come out to see us already know. Other people who don’t know tend to figure it out after they buy the record, go home, and do some research on us. Some people figure it out at the show by asking around. I hope that what comes across at the end of the day…it doesn’t really matter. I just happen to be a tranny, singing in a band.

TGF: I always ask this… is there anything you’d like to say to the transgender community in general?

Silveira: Be as accepting of each other as you want to be accepted. The reason I say that is because I always find myself in this position where I’m the transgendered male who doesn’t do “T”. I’ve had a double mastectomy, but nothing else. I’m sort of in this middle ground. Sometimes I feel that there is part of the trans community that completely identifies with me, and then there’s this other part of the community who feel that I’m not trans.

It’s interesting what happens when an oppressed community is trying to find its place in society. You know, your own family is always your worst critic. I want people to just accept each other for what we are as well, and let go of the in-fighting. It’s the one thing that bothers me the most. We need to accept all kinds of trans people within the community. It’s important because it makes us stronger as a unit.

TGF: Same question, but anything you’d like to say to musicians?

Silveira: Just keep at it. It’s a hard road, it’s a lot of hard work. You have to love what you do. Perseverance is the key to success.

(Author’s Note: The Cliks album Snakehouse is available through their website. It’s also available through amazon.com. A single of the song Oh Yeah is out there as well. A compliation CD of music from the TV show The L Word , called L Tunes: Music From and Imspired by The L Word (fourth season) features The Cliks tune Complicated. )


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Category: Transgender Fun & Entertainment

Pam Degroff

About the Author ()

Pamela DeGroff been writing for TGForum since the start of 1999. Her humor column, The Pamela Principle, ran until 2005. She started the Perpetual Change music column in May of 1999, and in 2008, Angela Gardner came up with the idea for the Transvocalizers column and put Pam to work on that. Pamela was a regular contributor to Transgender Community News until that magazine's demise. While part of a support group in Nashville called The Tennessee Vals she began writing for their newsletter, and also wrote for several local GLBT alternative newspapers in Tennessee. Pamela is currently a staff reporter for a small town daily paper in Indiana, and is also a working musician.

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