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| Aug 17, 2009
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Transvocalizers by Pamela DeGroff

Lucas Silveira isn’t your standard fare for this column. While our initial focus was on drag entertainers who sing in their own voice, Lucas, as a transman, certainly doesn’t fill that bill. No matter, though, because this is a transgender artist who is beginning to make an international impact, and will help to advance positive awareness of the community beyond what years of politics have slowly-very slowly-done. On the inside cover of the The Cliks newest release, Dirty King, there is a photo of a shirtless Lucas that makes a very powerful and bold statement. It’s a brave thing to do for an album project, and that old “…picture’s worth a thousand words…” thing couldn’t be truer.)

“We basically toured over a year, and it takes toll on you,” said Lucas Silveira, frontman of the Canadian band The Cliks. “It’s a very difficult life, emotionally and physically as well as you’re constantly going, and leaving again without ever being able to ground yourself.”

That year on the road is what put The Cliks on the map, so to speak. Along with a spring time release of their new album, Dirty King, the band has garnered some major music industry credits along the way. Being part of the “True Colors” tour, Lucas’s work and TV exposure with Cyndy Lauper, and further television time on cable’s L.A. Ink upped the band’s media exposure tremendously. Well, okay…the fact that Lucas is very out about beng transgender didn’t hurt either.

“We got a lot more attention than I ever imagined,” Lucas said. “I also ended up getting a lot of attention mostly because I’m transgendered. I welcome it, but part of the battle was the fact that I was welcoming and very open about who I was. Even though I felt that my songwriting and my gender indentity…I don’t write from a trans-male perspective, I write from a human perspective. It just so happens that my human perspective comes from a transgender body.

“There needs to be visability for trans people because we’ve such invisible people…not only in the heterosexual community and mainstream community, but also in the queer community. My friend Margaret Cho said to me that trans people are the invisible queers, and it’s totally true.”

Invisible or not, The Cliks are doing pretty well. Their newest release, Dirty King, is light years ahead of the first label release, Snakehouse, in both songwriting and overall sound quality. The album was recorded using analog technology (think two inch recording tape, such as classics like Sgt. Pepper utilized in the recording process) and was produced by Sylvia Massey, who has production credits with The Red Hot Chili Peppers and Tool.

“Jen Benton, our bass player, has a friend in California who is a sound engineer, and he introduced our music to Sylvia,” Lucas said. “She loved Snakehouse and loved the story behind the band…she contacted our management and said she’d like to produce an album. She was exactly what we needed to get to the next level of what we’re trying to accomplish.”

While it’s not our purpose here to do album reviews, let’s just say that Dirty King sounds like the work of a band that has been together a lot longer than The Cliks. Recording on analog gives the entire project a depth and richness just not heard with new music anymore.

There’s also a real surprise on the album in a song entitled Emily — strings on a Cliks tune.

“I brought that specific song in for Sylvia to hear,” Lucas said. “I told her, ‘(I) have this song and I think it’s really cool, but I don’t think it’s a Cliks song.’ She said I needed to finish writing it because it’s a great song. She said to me, ‘Lucas, you want to know what a Cliks song is? It’s a song that you write.’ As soon as I took on that perspective, it made me feel so liberated.”

As a writer and musician, Lucas isn’t one to stay in one place and rehash the same licks and ideas. On this album, the entire band did some writing together. After Jen Benton wrote the bass line to the tune Career Suicide while on tour, she played it a lot during sound checks. Drummer Morgan Doctor suggested she develop it further, and eventually all three collaborated on the song.

“On tour, Lucas and I came up with the pre-chorus together. We put together the chorus and bridge, which was written to a beat Morgan came up with,” said Benton. “It was a great experience.”

Writing is a passion for Lucas, and it goes beyond the work of the Cliks. In the future, Lucas would like to write and possibly co-write for and with other artists.

“I will always write rock songs, because it’s such a part of what I do,” Lucas said. “But I also think that there’s another side of me, that if it starts going a little bit left of center so to speak, the possibility of creating a soul project is also there.”

The Cliks have taken a much needed break over the summer, and will be resuming road work in the fall. This time, there’s almost a renewed sense of purpose, even a fresh perspective, about who they are and what they do. “With the last album, we really built a fan base,” Llucas said. “We learned where we should be going and where we have most of our audience. We’re gong to be focusing on that.”

For information, check out, and also

Breaking News: The Cliks will debut their hot new video, Dirty King. Dark, gritty and gothy, the video will simultaneously debut on MTV2 and MTVU (the network’s college channel) this coming Wednesday morning at 6:00 a.m. EST. Dirty King will air every hour on the hour for the rest of the day, with additional airing on MTV’s Logo channel, culminating with a special airing on Logos’ Pop Lab that evening.

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Category: Music, 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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