Feminine sexuality in pop music has for many years been about the right to be sexual beings as women: wear short skirts, or nothing at all, dance on poles, want sex, good sex, with whoever and whenever. All important things but there are so many other important discussions to be had and this young 25-year-old singer-songwriter is having them.
At the age of 18 Canadian-born singer Lowell decided she wanted a musical career, so she dropped out of university and began stripping to save enough money to make her dreams a reality. Openly discussing her past, she challenges our often judgmental society that quickly condemns any form of sex work, from stripping to prostitution. Despite the preconceived notions of what we often think sex work implies, perhaps the key to a better society is understanding without judgment. In her deeply personal and revealing lyrics she travels the listener through a myriad of electro-pop beats that raise questions about contemporary music. She will be performing in London in May this year following her 2016 EP release, ‘Part 1: Paris YK’.
Are you working on new music? How can we expect it to be different from your debut album?
I’m just finishing up a new record. The contexts are very much the same as my last record, as the same things still inspire me. I write from different gender perspectives and always try to push gender roles in my lyrics. I have continued to do so. l drew again from some of my past struggles and developed a theme based on community and sticking together through the worst. The music itself is quite different. I collaborated with some amazing Toronto beat producers who really helped me give the record a sound and the song writing is much more mature and thought out. I am proud of that growth.
Where do you find musical inspiration?
Honestly the inspiration usually just finds me. Once I’ve sat down though and really start tackling a song full on I try to look into three perspectives. I dig into my past, what I have been through and how I got through my struggles. Then I draw from the present, whether that’s things in the room, the objects around me or maybe things I’m feeling at that moment. Then I think about the future. I try to achieve a narrative of what I want to sound like or who I want to be. For example if I think women should sound stronger and less desperate in music I try to be that woman and sing through a perspective that someone might be trained to think as more masculine.
Sex and love are perhaps the two most explored topics in contemporary music, why do you think that is?
I guess the simple answer is that one would assume humans who carry a gene that is disinterested in love have inevitably died off by now.
Your documentary with Vice on the New Era of Canadian Sex Work was extremely insightful. Based on your research, what are your personal thoughts on how best to protect sex workers that choose the profession as well as forced sex workers trying to escape the profession?
The thing is forced trafficking in itself is actually a completely different topic to sex work, so in Canada they were seemingly just blurring the two for political reasons in attempt to sway the public in supporting their law. One is a transaction between consenting adults, the other is trafficking, or with women under the age of consent it is statutory rape. One thing we could do to help both of these categories is to try within the political system to consider these differences and be able to identify these things as separate issues. This means listening to the women who work in sex work and understanding each individual’s stories. It also means respecting women and respecting their right to claim whether they are being raped/ trafficked or not. Our system considers all sex workers to be victims. Although (somehow) believing women when they say they have been raped is a step forward, not believing a woman who says she is not being raped is counterproductive and a giant step backwards.
In Canada, a significant amount of sex workers are indigenous women and transgender women. In the case of indigenous women, theses are often women from communities that are extremely poor and have been largely ignored by the government for years. While working on this documentary I spoke with many indigenous women who have chosen sex work as a stepping stone to move on to get an education or fund another career. We’ve had a controversial amount of murders of indigenous women in Canada, a number of them in sex work. I do not understand why as a country we have decided to deny these women their basic human rights to safety. By making sex work legal, all women in this line of work would be much safer.
For the young girls being forced into sex work, the best thing we can do for them is to create a political system that opens up our society to understanding rape issues and teaching women it is not shameful to have been coerced into sex and that we live in a safe environment where those women can come forward and be relieved of the unsafe conditions they live in.
Abortion is still illegal in many parts of the world. What are your thoughts here?
Abortion is still illegal in a whole lot of places! Nigeria, Brazil, Paraguay, Venezuela, and the list goes on. And restrictive abortion laws don’t just stop there. Even three states in the USA completely criminalise abortion. Not to mention the connected issue of 31 states in the US that allow rapists visitation and custody rights. We are nowhere close to the place we need to be regarding sexuality and human rights. Until we are there women will continue to be denied basic human rights. The rights we are all supposed to have. The right to choose, the right to our bodies/ make choices about our bodies, and the right to safety.
What does sexual liberation mean to you?
Freedom to be in charge of my own sexuality.
You feel sexiest when…
I’m in charge of my own sexuality.
Watch Lowell perform next week at the Great Escape Festival in London.
This is an excerpt from our Sexuality issue OUT NOW. Order it here!