Blurring the lines between artistry and identity

Visual artist, performer, jewellery designer, DJ, producer – Metaraph has many strings to their creative bow, occupying a unique space where the boundaries of many artistic disciplines are blurred. Much in the same way, Metaraph celebrates and lives the truth of their non-binary identity with the same fluidity. We spoke with the Berlin-based multidisciplinary artist to understand more about what it means to exist as a queer artist in the music industry today, and how they hope to use their artistry as a platform for their own self-expression and inspire more to do the same.

Self-discovery through community

Queer music communities enabled Metaraph to enter the music industry, and provided them with a place to develop their body of work in multidisciplinary art styles. “I started as a raver,” they explain, “going to queer parties, from techno to goth and dark wave. I started connecting with the different queer communities and began to find myself more and more. I worked on my aesthetic as a form of experimental self-exploration and more people began to know me for the looks that I brought into the London nightlife.”

Having stepped into the music world around three years ago, Metaraph has been thoroughly embedded in the underground queer techno scenes as a DJ, developing their unique performance style and sound. “For me, each gig has been a formative experience that has helped me to perfect my skills and my blend of musical styles.”

With a professional dance background stemming from their teenage years, Metaraph reconnected with the London scene and continued to spread their name as a performance artist of unique distinction. “It was easier for me to start playing at events because they already knew me as a performance artist. Then, I also started to play across Europe in France, Ukraine, and Germany.” 

With more musical experience under their belt, Metaraph began experimenting with music production. “I started messing around, trying things in Ableton, until I had my first official releases for labels such as TSA, Hardest Soft, Durch, Expel Your Demons and few more. This helped me to connect with the worldwide hard techno music industry.”

Away from the thrill of the subversive night cultures and experimental music production, Metaraph also practices self-expression and celebration of the body with their own jewellery creations. “I opened up my jewellery brand, INAUREM, which explores body-based jewellery that embraces our body without piercing it.” This tied in with their musical performance creates an expansive body of work that represents Metaraph’s creative fluidity, as well as their non-conforming identity in social and creative circles.

Metaraph highlights the significance of social media in the growth of their audience and community. “Used smartly, platforms like Instagram can definitely give your career a push and bring in opportunities that otherwise never would have happened. People from all over the world can have access to what you do and create, and this helps you in getting booked on the other side of the planet. Same for my jewellery brand, without Instagram, I never could have reached all my worldwide customers. Every day is a day that you can use to create and build up your future, brick by brick, until you build your beautiful house of art and love.”

"Every day is a day that you can use to create and build up your future, brick by brick, until you build your beautiful house of art and love."

Breaking the binary through art

Metaraph’s unique blend of multidisciplinary artforms is intrinsically tied to their expression as an artist. “Self-expression is the main driving force into my creative process, because you have to project your individuality in what you create, be that through music, fashion, movement and so on,” they explain. Metaraph’s expression of their non-binary identity through their art and performance is a natural extension of their day-to-day existence. “My statements about gender and LGBTQIA+ identities are firstly lived and portrayed in my daily life,” says Metaraph.

By simply existing as their true and authentic self, they are actively challenging traditional and constrained perceptions of gender and sexuality. “Being truly me in the way that I present myself to the world is a statement of non-conformity and individuality. This also naturally translates into my performance acts as they portray gender bending and fluidity amongst other concepts relating to philosophy, biology, occultism, and ritualistic arts.”

With Metaraph’s openly queer and non-conforming identity being the central point of both their artistic endeavours and social existence, they have a unique perspective in being able to see how they are represented or underrepresented in media and within the music industry. “As we all know, the music industry is mainly dominated by cisgender white male individuals, but I can tell that more minorities are popping up and slowly taking up more space within the industry,” says Metaraph.

"Minorities are popping up and slowly taking up more space within the industry"

“We are in the middle of a change. It’s a change that won't happen just within our generation, but it’s important that we continue with this work for our future generations. I feel that LGBTQIA+ statements are still not completely understood by all in the industry, but at the same time I can see that the youth of this generation are more accepting and open minded than the previous one.”

"I can see that the youth of this generation are more accepting and open minded than the previous one"

In recent times, as there has been a greater call for inclusivity and representation, Metaraph argues that for better representation, there must be a greater understanding of the LGBTQIA+ community, and genuine desire to include these voices in all conversations.

“First of all, do not tokenise LGBTQIA+ topics and identities, that's very important to remember. Tokenising is when you practice a symbolic effort to be inclusive to members of minority groups in order to give the appearance of racial and sexual equality in your workplace, but rather you’re deflecting accusations of discrimination,” they explain. “Music companies should genuinely understand and acknowledge the art and beauty of those LGBTQIA+ artists and give them more opportunities, without being driven by tokenism. Instead, they should be driven by compassion and understanding of the generational trauma and repression that we, the LGBTQIA+ community, have lived through and are still living through, in our life, in our work, and in our society.”

As a performer and an artist, Metaraph uses multiple mediums to express and celebrate their non-binary identity and also celebrate the existence of those in their community. With a wide-reaching platform, Metaraph also wants to use their voice to encourage discussion around many different issues affecting marginalised communities in order to make change.

Metaraph maintains an optimism about the future of LGBTQIA+ representation in the music industry. Their existence as a visible nonbinary artist as can be seen as inspiration to other members of the community. “This might inspire even more people who will see you, doing the same and embracing themselves fully. Maybe that is going to inspire other people, in an infinite chain reaction. No matter who starts the chain, what matters is that we all get to express yourself and uniqueness without fear.”

"What matters is that we all get to express yourself and uniqueness without fear."

Words: Zainab Hassan