TransVocalizers: J.D. Doyle

| Jan 27, 2014
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jd-doyleThis being the first installment of TransVocalizers for this year, I want to start off with something a bit different. From time to time, in this column and our companion Perpetual Change column, I’ve deviated from the standard fare of interviews and music reviews in order to focus on people and events that, while not necessarily transgendered or trans-oriented, are nonetheless important supporters of the community.

For the last several months, I’ve made mention of a compilation CD called House Blend, produced by J.D. Doyle. The CD offers 21 tracks, each by a different artist within the broader LGBT music community. Most of the transgender artists/musicians featured on the project have been profiled in either of my columns over the years. The overall purpose of House Blend is to serve as a fund raising tool for the “…new building fund for the Transgender Foundation of America, to acquire property to house the Houston Transgender Center and Archives”.

CDcover-final2Released this past October, the project was produced and compiled by J. D. Doyle for Queer Music Heritage. Mr. Doyle is the guiding force behind this particular fund raising drive and as such has developed an openness towards and understanding of the contributions of not only transgender musicians and artists, but of the transgendered portion of the greater LGBT community.

I regard it as almost a duty to give thanks and even praise to anyone outside of the community who will go out of their way to offer support. So, please join in welcoming producer J.D. Doyle to TGForum.

TGForum: J.D., I wasn’t able to find much in the way of back ground material on you. Can you help me out a bit here?

J.D. Doyle: I’m from Ohio, and after college (degree in chemical engineering), I moved to upstate New York, then Virginia and finally in 1981 to Houston. In January of 2000 I was invited to do a music segment for the otherwise public affairs show Queer Voices, on KPFT-FM. Queer Music Heritage is both a radio show and a website, and the goal of both is to preserve and share the music of our culture. Since its start it has become THE source on the net for the history of LGBT music.

TGF: How did you get involved in music initially? Any musical experience of your own?

JDD: All of my adult life I’ve been a music collector, though it was not until the mid-’90s that I began to focus on seeking out only music by LGBT artists. Before getting the radio show, I had no experience in radio and just figured it out over the years. I personally have no musical experience.

TGF: Prior to the House Blend CD, any other experience such as concert promotion or other production projects?

JDD: My radio show and website are plenty to keep me busy and I never had an interest in promoting live shows. Those are entirely different skills.

TGF: What is your involvement with the Houston Transgender Center?

JDD: I’ve long been a supporter and even in my first year on the radio, did a special show focusing on the music of transgender artists. I get a special treat doing those shows as I try to include interviews and those are a joy to me, as not only can I hopefully educate and entertain the audience about an artist’s music, but also about their trans journey. I feel those areas cannot get enough exposure. And while I routinely play trans artists on most shows, I like doing the special shows as a sway of encouraging new trans musicians in getting their music out there. They can find my shows and realize, gee, there are a lot of people doing this, and maybe I can also. My January 2014 show is another one of these specials, #15, and I estimate these shows over the years total over 30 hours and on them I’ve played about 350 songs by around 140 artists, and the shows have included interviews with 22 different artists.

TGF: Is there much of a transgender music scene in Houston? Or, for that matter, is there much of an overall LGBT scene?

JDD: I actually cannot speak for the general music scene in Houston, as I’m much too focused to have time to care about straight artists, but regarding resident or touring LGBT artists, Houston is a bleak scene indeed.

TGF: In dealing with different artists and musicians over the years, what trends have you observed? What’s your impression of the current music scene in general?

JDD: Again, I am so focused with what I do, I just do not care about any “general” music scene. I can watch the Grammy Awards and it would be the first time for hearing any of the huge hits of the year. I can only speak about LGBT artists, and the “B” is fairly invisible … not many artists proclaim themselves openly as bisexual. I’ve done 15 shows on transgender artists, only two on bisexual, and that dealt with both songs by bisexuals and about bisexuality.

So what is changing? The Internet had led to an explosion of Indie artists doing their own music and being able to at least get it available online, even if it is difficult to let people know about them. It is easy to find trans artists on YouTube doing what I call “bedroom recording”. Good for experience, but very rarely of useable radio quality.

And, in recent years, young people seem to be embracing new ways of expressing gender identity. They are “queer” or “genderqueer” and the lines with them are blurry and from their point of view, why bother to even think about any lines.

TGF: What do you feel is the biggest challenge that transgender musicians/artists face?

JDD: Exposure. Most are Indie artists and i t’s difficult to become known. There are very few openly trans artists doing really well, and no, I do not count all RuPaul’s drag queens as qualifying in this discussion. (Though I do acknowledge that many trans folks DO consider drag queens under the transgender umbrella.)

TGF: What advice would you offer to trans musicians?

JDD: Like I would tell any beginning artists/musician … learn your craft, learn the recording part of it, the tech issues, how to market. If you get far enough, it’s an art but also a business, and many of the breaks you get you have ot make yourself. Oh yeah … have talent.

TGF: Why did you choose the artists that you did for inclusion on House Blend?

JDD: Selecting the artists was a dream for me, as basically I picked my favorite songs by my favorite trans artists, and some of those songs go back a few years. I did consider diversity of genres, but you also have to have songs compatible with each other on a disc. In hindsight, the overall disc was more rock than I would have predicted, which is fine. I was bless that I’ve been doing my show long enough that I’ve built up credibility and relationships with most of the artists I contracted, and I got every song I requested.

TGF: What do you hope to accomplish with the CD, and would you take on another project like this?

JDD: It’s a benefit CD, so of course I h ope therre are lots of sales. The Transgender Foundation of Houston is a wonderful organization, ane while they are renting a house, it is really not the space they need, for their meetings, social gathering, their terrific archives, etc. Also, I love that the CD itself is another way for all of these artists to get exposure that they may not have received otherwise. Many of the artists expressed that they were thrilled to be included.

Would I produce another CD? I think this has satisfied my yen for the time being. Even though I did not have to worry about the recording of the songs, there are a lot of technical issues and work just coordinating the aspects people do not think about, like getting every one of the 21 artists to sing and promptly return license releases (a bit like herding cats.) Besides my radio shows and blog, I have plenty of other project I heap on my own plate to keep me more than busy.

TGF: In closing, any final thoughts?

JDD: I’ll like to say that most of the artists on the CD are transgender, but not all. Four or five are not, but all are LGBT. And another criteria was lyrical content. I love music with politics in it, and I was pleased to be able to use several songs commenting on gender issues, a rather new concept to find in a song.


Within the next month or so, TransVocalizers will feature a review of the actual House Blend CD. Until then, here is a list on the artists that are included on the project: Wayne County & The Electric Chairs, Sexual Side Affects Band, Lipstick Conspiracy, Tough Tough Skin, Lucas Silveira, The Shondes, Schmekel, Angela Buck Motter, Rickky Riot, Tim’m T West, Bitesize, The Kinsey Sicks, Veronica Klaus, Namoli Brennet, Kate Reid, Heiskell, Eli Conley, Coyote Grace, Joshua Klipp, Ari Gold, and Rev. Yolanda.

Since House Blend is a fund raising project, all profits go directly to the Houston Transgender Building fund, via the New Building Fund of The Transgender Foundation of America. (TFA is a 501(c)(3) charity.) House Blend is priced at $10. For more information, please go to the project’s website.


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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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