Perpetual Change — The Sexual Side Effects

| Mar 10, 2014
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sexual-side-efffects01As a musician, I’ve been an ensemble player forever. (Bass player, therefore part of the rhythm section.)Longtime readers know that I’m also very much into instrumental music, but nonetheless prefer a band format most of the time. So, it’s always a treat for me to come across a band that’s new to me.

Atlanta based band The Sexual Side Effects is lead by Amber Taylor, the band’s main songwriter. She is described as “a dynamic presence whose experiences as a transgendered person color the lyrical narrative.”

The Sexual Side Effects basically consists of Taylor and long time friend Mike Sidner on bass, along with an ever rotating cast of characters/guest musicians. They have one EP release entitled High Maintenance (2012), and are beginning work on another studio project soon. We will be posting a review of the EP project next month, but until then, Perpetual Change/TG Forum is pleased to introduce The Sexual Side Effects band to our readers.

TGForum: Where are you from originally?

Amber Taylor: I was made in Georgia and born in Texas, Dallas, Texas, to be exact. I grew up there till I was 13 and moved to Atlanta, GA, where I live today.

TGF: How long has the band been together? How did everyone meet?

AT: I have had the band as a solo project for years and it slowly morphed over time. It started as The Amber Taylor Band, then Amber Taylor and The Trashy Trio, Amber Taylor and The Sexual Side Effects, then finally arrived at The Sexual Side Effects. About 3 years ago on New Years Eve 2011 the current bassist Mike Sidner and I sat down and talked to form the latest incarnation. So over the last 3 years we have been going full force to spread Sexual Side Effects across the world.

TGF: Musically, what are your influences? Any formal training?

AT: I play an array of instruments including guitar, bass, drums, percussion instruments, keyboard/piano and I have understood music theory from a young age. I have been studying the Bel Canto voice method for the last couple of years (the Italian-originated vocal style that prevailed throughout most of Europe during the 18th century.) It is the same style that Opera singers today study, like Luciano Pavarotti. It has really changed my voice since I started studying it. I also grew up playing the upright bass in Junior High and High School.

As far as influences, I love a wide array of music and pull those influences int it. It can be summed up by fusing the styles of New Wave and Post punk with India rock, Brit pop, power pop with touches of space rock psychedelia.

TGF: I know that you have released on EP, High Maintenance, in 2012. Now you’re working on a new project. Do you have a release date set yet?

AT: We haven’t set any release dates as we have had lineup changes and have been working on getting a budget together to record. We do have a ton of songs ready to record and should be going into the studio soon. We have been in talks with a producer in Atlanta named Nico Constantine, who among other things, is also the guitarist for Lady Gaga.

TGF: What kind of venues do you play, and what kind of reaction do you get?

AT: We have played all kinds of different shows including the club circuit, music festivals, bike rallies and Pride festivals. Reactions vary depending on the crowd. Sometimes we play a city where we have a draw and a lot of our fans are there who are really engaged during the show. Sometimes we play for other people’s fans and it varies widely. No matter what show we play, we always give 110% and we win someone over in the audience.

amber-taylor02TGF: How old were you when you first started dealing with your gender issues? How supportive is your family?

AT: When I was a young kid, I started dealing with my gender identity, but as time went on I covered it up and suppressed it like a lot of people do. It wasn’t till I was about 23 that I seriously took steps to change (I’m 35 now.) My family is really supportive. At first I was terrified, but they are 100% supportive and I am now “Aunt Amber” to my niece and nephew, or more affectionately “Am-Sandwich.” I changed slowly and over a long period of time, then there came a point when my family realized I looked like a girl and everywhere I went I was treated as such, which lead me to finally coming out to my family about my changes.

TGF: How much do you discuss being transgender in your music? How do you personally handle any negativity?

AT: Well, the transgendered thing isn’t the focus of what we do. Music is the focus, but yes, I am a transgendered person. Some people figure it out, but most people don’t. The only negativity I have had is either anonymous “religious” people online who think they know me. Once people see us perform, we win them over and most people have no clue about me. That is our strategy as well…win their hearts over as humans then let them find out later. I think that is more of my purpose in this world, to win the hearts and minds of the world over to our community with music, love, and being a genuine person, then when they find out it’s more like their brother or sister who is close to their heart changed.

TGF: On your web site, you have a sort of loose description of the band’s sound as a mix of “post punk, new wave, modern pop, indie, and space rock psychedelica.” Sounds pretty out there. Is that an accurate description of what can be expected at a live show?

sexual-side-effects02AT: We are a rock band, there is no getting around that. We have a lot of influences and our sound can be verbally boiled down to that, but the live experience is a whole other beast. I am very physical at shows and often times hurt myself in the process. It could almost be thought of as if Joan Jett went Iggy Pop. I also love hypnotizing spacey guitar sounds as well. My guitar sound will typically go from Queens of the Stone Age to U2 meets the Chameleons over the course of a song. You can expect our next record to have a more spacey and guitar processed sound.

TGF: Since you’re in the public eye as a front woman for a working band, how do you feel transgender entertainers are being portrayed in the media?

AT: There have been a lot of transgendered people in the spotlight on a wider scale recently and fortunately most of it has been positive! Yay! So many of us are portrayed as sex workers or freaks, and we need more people to take a stand for all humanity. Transgendered people are extraordinary people. Being able to be that honest with yourself, and do something about it takes an elevated level of openness and honesty. I am so proud of my trans brothers and sister and we need more of us in the media.

We need more people to show how we are all human and the differences between genders are a lot smaller than mainstream Western society tells us to believe. Trans people are beautiful people who are part of every society. Now the time has come for us to help change the world for the better and help humanity evolve to a new level.

TGF: What advice would you offer to young musicians, trans or not, who are just starting out?

AT: Be prepared to work your ass off and never give up. Also, don’t wait on anyone, take action for yourself and don’t do it “to be famous”, do it because you love it. Being a musician is about playing music first. Getting in the media is all marketing for your music, so don’t let it go to your head.

People think this life is glamorous and that they will be on a tour bus and be a millionaire Brad Pitt overnight. Well, that is not true. It’s a hard life to pull together a ton of money, record an album and music video and then tour your butt off, all while holding down a day job to pay for all of it. Gas is so expensive it has made it virtually impossible in a financial sense to have a decent living. When you go on the road, you travel forever, play your heart out while completely exhausted, giving it 110%, then when you are done you hang out, meet new fans and friends, try to convince them to give you their email address and buy a CD or shirt so you can get enough gas to go to the next city. Then after the club closes, you get back in the van and either get a place to crash or drive home for a couple of hours without sleeping to save money.

When you have a huge tour booked that you are actually losing money on (your money), your drummer will quit the band and leave you high and dry. There are so many messed up things that happen, you have to be a soldier and be prepared to do battle with all the misfortunes that are waiting for you around the corner. This life will separate the “women from the girls” really quick. If it’s truly your calling, no matter what BS happens, getting up on that stage no matter how big or small and working your magic makes it all worth it. The things to beware of in the business are not what you would think at first.


TGF: If you had one thing to say to the transgender community as a whole, what would it be?

AT: Rock the f*** on. Seriously, we put up with so much BS in ourselves and reach a tipping point in our lives to do something a bout our gender at some point. Be proud of who you are, do positive things and make positive decisions for yourself. Be a good role model for our trans brothers, sisters and human beings in general. Too many of us get caught up in sex work, and degrading ourselves because we don’t have support structure. Having a strong and healthy self esteem is critical in changing.

Now, a couple of other things from experience I would like to share to those who wish to take medical steps to change:

1. Go to a doctor! I didn’t go in the beginning. I was afraid I would be denied hormones and I even went to the wrong doctors who didn’t treat trans people. Find the right doctor for our community where you live, don’t self-medicate. When I finally started going to my doctor in my transition, I had been self-medicating myself and come to find the reason i still looked male was because I didn’t take appropriate medications to turn off my testosterone levels as I went through my “transsexual puberty”.

2. Take your time. You are going to be living as your new gender for your whole life. Take your time, ease your way into it. This may not be what the Standards of Care advise, but I disagree with them on that subject. It’s a lot easier for you to be accepted into society as you change on the outside, as opposed to going to extremes in your appearance in the beginning. After times going through “transsexual puberty” which I mentioned, people will start to see a different person on the outside than you were.

Hormones are not going to change your outer appearance over night and it will take years for them to fully change you. It was easier for me in society to have my outer appearance start matching my inner and then progress from there. This may not work for everyone, but it did for me. Our society can be very cruel, and taking my time helped me find my foothold as a new person and gender.

TGF: In closing, any final words?

amber-taylor01AT: After all the years of my life where I changed my gender, the other hardest thing I have done was to follow my dreams of being a musician. Working tirelessly everyday to spread my art and make my dream a reality is my all consuming mission now, and that is what tryly defines my existence on our planet in our time. GO FOR YOUR DREAMS. Go for your dreams in life, it’s up to you to use your time wisely while you are here. Don’t let being trans get in the way of your dreams. We still have barriers to break down.

In the beginning, i was terrified of playing music as a trans musicians. Afraid of sounding like a guy when I sang. But you know what, it’s who I am and it’s f*****g bad ass. Now that I am not afraid anymore, I realize I don’t really always sound like a guy and if I do….I sound like me, and being yourself is most unique thing you can do.?We have a mission in this world to spread our music and what we are and the unique qualities of who I am…I’ve spent a lot of time in my personal life changing into who I am today, and we are here now. Really, the next step for the band is to take our music and who we are and help change society beyond us.”

For more information on Amber Taylor and The Sexual Side Effects, please check out their website. Also on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, Instagram and Reverbnation. Music is available through their site, as well as on iTunes and


Jennifer Leitham

Jennifer Leitham has announced that she is involved with a new fund raising campaign. She told about it in a recent press release:

Announcing The Triple Play Project!

My last four projects have been released by my own record company, Sinistral Music. While I don’t have the support of a major label, I also don’t have the limitations. This allows me to invest myself into these projects more completely and in a way that is ideal for achieving my vision and scope for the works. I can create and produce on my own terms, collaborate with the people I want to, record, mix and master at the studios I want to and oversee artwork, manufacturing, and promotion. I am the producer of every element of these albums as they come together. I am asking for your help in order to record my next 3 albums.

Please visit the Triple Play Project site on IndieGoGo for all of the information and contribute what you can. Take advantage of the perks at each level. Please give what you can, from $10 to $5000 or more if you like. I promise that you are going to love the music!?I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to create these projects with you, the people who have supported my music through the years past and have inspired me to now continue on into the future.

Also, upcoming dates for Jennifer include?April 24-26 at The Katy Jazz Festival (Katy, TX  ) ?May 28-June 7; International Best of Swing (Tour de France and the Netherlands)? June 21 Vox Femina, Zipper Hall, Colburn School Of Music, Los Angeles , CA.

Justin Vivian Bond

Justin Vivian Bond will be presenting a new show called The Drift. Along with Scott Wittman and Matt Ray, the show premiers at Joe’s Pub, with only six shows booked for March 13, 14, 27, 28, and April 10, 11. The show has been described as “A collage of spoken word and song inspired by the Story Of Karen Stone, a retired actress who drifts from one space to another — either in her mind, in couture, or in bed.” For more information:

Our Lady J

Our Lady J will be hitting the road soon. On March 12, she will be in San Francisco to perform her tribute show to Dolly Parton, The Gospel of Dolly, at Rebel, and will also be at Joe’s Pub in NYC on March 23rd, and on March 30 at the Rockwell Table And Stage in Los Angeles. For more information, please check out her website; also on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

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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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