Class Of 2020: Freddie Seipoldt—Singer Songwriter and Activist

When it came to curating this list, in the midst of a cultural upset, a global pandemic, and a civil war amongst the people—we were at a crossroads.

How do we create a Class Of guide when the world seems to be falling apart every single day, how do we honor people and their achievements when the conversation has so clearly turned.

Though in the SF Bay Area, we’ve seen a litany of small to large scale unrests awaken in the light of the brutal police murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and many others. These protests have sprung other conversations about race, sexual identity, childcare, healthcare—the list goes on.

And much like the Bay Area does, there are few who lead the charge. Our Class Of 2020 honors and highlights examples who began to further change—whether it’s through their work, day-to-day, or digitally.

Every week (specifically Monday and Friday), we will be highlighting two of our seven Class Of 2020 and inducting them into our master guide of locals who trail blaze in the Bay Area.

For those who don’t know Freddie Seipoldt, you are in for a treat and a welcome introduction.

Whether you’ve seen the doyen on Twitter spitting facts and truths or in the wild amongst queer performers—Seipoldt stays connected to their San Francisco-Oakland tribe. The up-and-coming singer songwriter has been the highlight and feature of various Bay Area independent outlets everything from queer reporting to the recently released mentions in the Times Magazine from singer Halsey. 2020, though a rough year for all of us, has given Seipoldt a stronger foundation to tell their story to the masses.

But you may have seen Seipoldt more locally—everything from the READY TO LISTEN Rally, various Pride related events, Oaklash 2020, the now shuttered Stud—the list goes on for the increasingly busy and booked performer. We got to chat with Seipoldt via email about their musicality and how music has influenced their native activism.

// Photography provided by the inductees, words by the Bob Cut Mag Editors; have a correction or question, email us here.


Q

To begin this interview, we want to mention that you were nominated by our community almost 30 times, for those who may not be familiar with you, who are you and what do you do / what do you feel like is your purpose?

A

I’m Freddie Seipoldt (they/them pronouns)! I’m an artist, I’m a digital culture worker of sorts and I feel like my purpose is to participate in the collective project of re-imagining the world through music and visual art.

Q

You’re a singer, songwriter, vocal activist, and very much ingrained in the fabric of the Bay Area queer community—how do you tie in all of your aspects into one or do you have the multiple aspects about you to extend and reach other communities?

A

I wouldn’t say that I’ve mastered the art of tying all of these aspects together into one. But I am one person, so I’d say the universe has already sort of done that work for me. I just show up in whatever ways that I feel like I can be the most useful, whether that’s as an artist, an activist or just a friend.

Q

Tell us about your performance at the READY TO LISTEN Rally that took place in Castro square, why was that performance so profound to you? What were key takeaways from that moment in time?

A

The rally really felt like the first real coming-together I’ve ever seen in a long time (maybe ever). I don’t always feel the most welcome in spaces like the Castro, let alone supported in queer spaces in general. It felt like we were reclaiming space that should have always been ours. I’m really thankful for folks like Afrika America, Reed Carlisle, Militia and my drag mama, Reina De Aztlán, for grounding me that day, because I’m also a bit more socially anxious than people might think.

Q

And speaking of music, take us through a timeline of how, when, and where did music become a prevalent characteristic in your life? How has it mixed into the everyday?

A

Music has always played a role in my life. My mama tried to start a singing group with me and my other siblings when I was younger but it wasn’t giving what it thought it was, so that got chopped. I’ve always loved performing and being on stage though. I was in all the local talent shows and singing competitions, but I only started to take it more seriously after my grandmother gave me my first guitar in 8th grade. I’ve been writing music ever since. When I went to school at UC Berkeley, I was the manager of the UC Men’s Octet for a little while, so that was probably the time when I really started to gain a lot more confidence as a performer. And since graduating from school, music has just become the center of my whole life, which is exactly where it should be.

Q

With music, you also released your debut EP, MELANIN MONROE, tell us the genesis of the project and what the reaction has been from yourself and those around you?

A

MELANIN MONROE is a collection of songs that I’ve written over the past 3.5 years. The project was really a bunch of experiments for me trying out different styles of hip-hop and r&b. I wanted to showcase my sonic range. For the longest time, I’ve just been playing songs on the guitar. It got boring for me, so the reaction was a bit unexpected. I thought people would gravitate more towards the higher energy songs, but my song “weak” has gotten the best response so far, which is definitely the most stripped down track. I think the feedback I’ve gotten will greatly inform the sound of the next project, now that I know what people connect better with. It’s really affirming to know that folks appreciate me at my barest form.

Q

Now in 2020, this year has exposed all of us to immense racial hatred of Black men and women, Asian men and women, Latinx men and women—how have you felt, dealt, and comprehended it all?

A

As much hatred as I’ve seen in the world this year, I’ve also been blessed by an abundance of Black queer love and excellence. Anti-Blackness isn’t new to me. It isn’t unique to 2020 either. What this year has taught me is that we can’t make non-Black people love us, and it can be a soul-sucking endeavor to attempt. But as Black people, we can love on each other with all of our hearts and that really is life-giving, and, as the kids say, revolutionary. I share in my Black siblings pain and anger, but I also know how powerful and resilient we are as a people, so I also want to hold space to celebrate Black joy and love to remind others and ourselves that we have that capacity.

  


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Q

With the passing of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade and so many countless more, where have you sought to bring voice about racial injustice in the Bay Area? Is it through marches, is it through the internet, what modes have you engaged in?

A

Art and social media have always been my most powerful tools for raising my voice. I’ve participated in the rallies and marches, delivered supplies to protesters and written speeches, but ultimately I know that my greatest impact will be in my creative work. I helped form the Bay Area Queer Nightlife Coalition with Rexy Tapia, Afrika America, and other Black and Brown Queer and Trans drag performers and nightlife workers. That work has seemed to be very fruitful. I’d like to continue supporting projects and platforms that do this anti-racist work. It’s been hard lately balancing this work with my own housing insecurity and unemployment.

Q

We also want to mention your stance on “No Pride without Black Power”—can you elaborate on that for the readers who may not understand?

A

Yes! As a queer artist, my creative calendar has always centered on Pride month as being the one month where I can expect to be seen as an artist. Oftentimes, I’ve felt like I’ve had to compartmentalize myself depending on which identity is the focus of an event. However, as the uprisings started to build up and June started to approach, something sort of shifted in me. Continuing to compartmentalize my identity no longer seemed manageable or remotely healthy. It started off as somewhat of a joke where I was telling friends that it wasn’t gay pride month anymore but Black pride month, but it really just made sense. Black folks needed (and still need) to have their voices prioritized right now and taking over pride is a bit of a protest in and of itself. And that’s what Pride should be about anyway.

Q

Can you tell us one moment from your past that threw you off the tracks (a comment by someone, a barrier you couldn’t overcome, etc) and how did you pick yourself up and continue to carry on? Or if you didn’t, what were your key takeaways from that particular interaction?

A

Well being broke and unemployed during a global pandemic definitely through a wrench in things, didn’t it? This year was a lot to overcome, so I’m just taking things one step at a time. That’s my takeaway.

Q

When do you feel the most powerful? Is it moments of standing up for what you believe in or something smaller like completing small tasks?

A

I’m most powerful when I’m able to shut out the world and find moments of peace and clarity. I do a lot of journaling and meditation. My spiritual practices give me a sense of power and ground me.

Q

What do you want to say to all of the young and mature people of color who want to get involved but feel like they don’t have access nor the voice to make a stance?

A

I’d just say that everyone has to start somewhere; everyone can make a difference somewhere. It’s important to really connect with what it is you want out of your journey and give yourself time to ask yourself the big questions about purpose and intention.

Q

Lastly, who do you champion?

A

I don’t know if I champion anything. I barely champion myself.


Class Of 2020: Freddie Seipoldt—Singer Songwriter and Activist
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