From Zambia, Backxwash [MTL] is a queer and trans rapper who emotes anger in their social commentary on queerness, blackness, and witchcraft. After putting out Deviancy on Grimalkin records, they have been consistently playing shows in Ottawa and Montreal and will be heading to St. John’s on August 22nd for Out of Earshot.


Photo by Bianca Lecompte

In conversation with Backxwash [she/they], they told me about her growth as a musician, the importance of music as a form of expression, the power of anger as an emotion, and what she hopes their music can inspire in other people.

To give a bit of history, I started making music when I was 13 years old. What happened was, before that, my sister came home with this, like, cd, and she was playing Mo Money Mo Problems by The Notorious B.I.G. I used to listen to music before that, but it was usually slow r&b because that was a really popular genre back in the 90’s. That’s how I started getting into more rap and hip hop. At 13, I remember getting a pirated copy of ethnostudio and trying to make beats but they were not good at all. They were terrible. They made no sense at all.

When she moved to Canada, she was encouraged to take a break from music to concentrate on their studies. After discovering parts of herself, and her identity, they felt pulled to Montreal to explore that more freely.

It was a weird time when I was moving to Montreal. I wanted to express myself, but at the same time, being in Montreal, it was almost like there was something in the air that makes you want to do something creative. I landed in Montreal, and within the first few days of living there I looked up a hip hop cypher and that’s how I found this place called Le Cypher. I went there and it kind of like re-sparked that interest.

Backxwash [named aptly over something straight folks find disgusting] is a project that is driven by passion and communicated through anger.

When it comes to writing raps, I cant write about something that is not important to me or doesn’t hold a special position in what I’m feeling. At this point, the only thing I can write about right now is my identity because that’s what I’m passionate about.  I didn’t want to approach it in a preachy way because other people can do that type of music. For me, I like it when it’s angry. Being angry is an under-rated emotion, that’s what I feel.

I started writing these raps about how I feel and was like, okay, I got the raps down. I’m still self-conscious about my voice, so I had to do what I had to do to make it sound a bit cool. Doing more things at Le Cypher allowed me to find my rap voice. If you compare the voice I use in F.R.E.A.K.S., the first project that I did, to the voice that I use now, it’s like really different. It sounds much more aggressive, loud, and intense versus the one in the first EP that didn’t really sound that way even though I tried.

In her lyrics and the voice she uses, Backxwash proactively addresses and pushes back against oppression. In “Burn Me at the Stake” on Deviancy, she raps “ever since I started rapping, I put a target on my back / I just thought I should be smarter than I am / For every bullet that they shoot I’ll take it harder as I can / I thought this shit was much harder THAN I PLANNED”. Driven by lived experience, the words expressed and the way they are expressed, set a zero tolerance standard for any discriminatory harm or violence even before it happens.

If you’re an oppressor, in order for me to feel completely safe, I’m going to lash out at you. If you’re sitting in a room as an oppressed person, and an oppressor comes into the room, even though they haven’t done anything to you at that moment, you don’t feel safe because you know what they are capable of.

By making herself vulnerable, and sharing her experience through her music, she is empowering and lifting up other folks in the trans community.

A friend of mine tells me that they listen to it when they want to feel a bad ass and I’m like, alright, that’s cool. I’m happy that there are spaces for such music because growing up, and facing racism, i felt so bad ass when I thought I was part of the N.W.A. or Chuck Keith from Public Enemy, you know? I want people in the trans community to be able to have that feeling.

Their most recent release, Deviancy, was put out by Grimalkin records on July 12th 2019. Grimalkin is a record label and collective comprised of artists from all over the world that raises money to support social justice and civil rights organizations. Sales from Deviancy were donated to Project 10 and Nationz Foundation.

It was a good opportunity to donate money to the organizations. It’s the most press I’ve ever gotten over a project and it’s allowed a larger audience to donate some money to the organizations. I’ve been really happy to be working with them and using my music to help people.

QTBIPOC folks have always paved the way for other queer and trans folks. Backxwash, through their music and the ways they distribute their music, is continuing this legacy.

When are we going to catch a break? We cant. Its our existence. We have to fight.

See them on August 22nd at The Ship with Gossamer, Worst Lay, and Grief.

Contribution by Nik A Basset


When I first moved to Montreal, a friend from my hometown told me I’d be a good fit to work at the Wheel Club. This was of course in reference to my appearance as I have been known to dress like a grandpa.

I was immediately fascinated by this place. A 50 year old country music bar located in one of Montreal’s anglophone neighborhoods NDG. They have hosted “Hillbilly Monday” open mic events every week during the bar’s lifespan.

NDG was a ways away from the neighborhood where I lived in East Montreal. My friends and I lived in the city for six months before finally making the hour long transit ride to get to this secret country bar.

wheel sign 2

Tucked between high rise apartments and business plazas is the staircase that lead us down to the Wheel Club. I open the door and am immediately struck with the smell of mothballs and urinal pucks. This looks like a dark legion hall, or the recreation room of a retirement home. There are rows of folding tables adorned with gingham tablecloths and fake flowers, mounted deer heads at the bar, wagon wheels, dim Christmas lights, framed photographs of the good ol’ days and a pool table – always occupied. I feel at home. We are welcomed by old ladies with delightful names like Flo and Jeanie. There are polite old men too – many of which are named Bill. The band is setting up onstage and a crew of women are carrying giant tupperware bins of snack food to the back.

wheel club 7

We order drinks at the bar and find a table. Flo leaves her card game with the gals to fix us a snack at their station. She presses a napkin into a woven basket and shovels one equal scoop of BBQ chips to one scoop of plain potato chips to one scoop of cheesies to one scoop of pretzels to one scoop of microwave popcorn. She’s done this a thousand times – I can tell. I hand her a toonie and she goes back to her card game.

wheel club 6

I am captivated by the country band. Jeanie who is not much more than 5’ plays a comically oversized acoustic guitar. She has an incredible voice and a warm yet commanding stage presence. The band cracks inside jokes and the regulars sing along to every song. I feel joyful in this dimly lit basement.

It is after my third caesar that I am faced with a dilemma. Which bathroom should I use so as not to cause a scene in this Western institution?

I analyze how I had dressed that day and play it against the colour of my hair. What voice had I used when introducing myself to these old country singers?

In my day to day life I try to not give a fuck and pee where I want but I wanted to fit in here. I wanted to charm these old people who had so wholeheartedly let us into their home. I wanted to seamlessly integrate into this paradise of cheap drinking and snacking and wholesome entertainment.

I waited, overthinking, until in a panic of indecision I darted to the Pizza Pizza around the corner to use their washroom instead. Crisis averted. I returned to my table at the Wheel Club and let these seniors sit comfortably knowing that I was merely an effeminate young man or an overgrown tomboy. Opinions differ from person to person- they could discuss it later. But for now I would continue to drink and enjoy my snack basket and I would keep them guessing.

wheel club 5

I love old country songs and old R&B songs, I love old cars and old photographs, 1960s architecture, diners, old Hollywood horror movies and fashion from when my Grandparents were in their 20s. I am a sucker for tradition. Passing on stories, recipes, trades, songs, and objects from one generation to the next.

How can I separate these things from the ignorance of habit-set people? Can anyone learn to comprehend and accept queer identities? Can genuine empathy be implored if I sat down and had a heart to heart with one of these ladies? I have made great strides with my own grandparents, but leading this crusade sounds exhausting.

I really just wanted to be able to put on a bolo tie and blue jeans, listen to Johnny Cash covers, and not think about gender for a couple hours.

wheel club 2

The second time I went to the Wheel Club was on an evening advertised as it’s last Hillbilly night. The bar was changing owners and the fate of the Wheel Club was uncertain. Drinks were half off at the bar and the place was packed. People of all ages were crowded side by side at the long folding tables.

The long timers started off the night with their usual numbers and then the stage was opened up to anyone. I saw queer faces in the crowd that night. Youngins’ who had ventured out to NDG out of curiosity just like I had. There is safety in numbers and I felt confident enough to go to the bathroom. I knew someone would stand up for me if anything happened, but nothing did. And I had to pee a lot. I was knocking back $3 whisky sodas steadily.

Between the six of us at my table of friends, we must have eaten a snack basket each. We knew a lot of the old country songs and sang along. The night was bittersweet. I really felt for these old souls who had spent so much of their lives here performing for each other and growing friendships, now with an undetermined end to their home.

And I belonged here too. For I was also a cowboy. Surely they must see that.

Contribution by: Frankie Climenhage (he/they)

They are a musician (member of Lonely Parade and Fleetwood Mac Sauce), writer and photographer who loves to talk about gender identity, architecture and Americana from Souther Ontario and currently living in Montreal.


As part of the media coverage for FLOURISH (April 25-28), not your boys club will be having conversations with some of the folks that will be organizing, creating, and performing at the festival.

For the sixth installment of this series, I spoke with Marianne (she/they) the front person and songwriter of l i l a. Other members of l i l a include Anthony (he/him) on guitar and synth, Audrey (she/her) on drums, and Pascal (he/him) on synth.

it is / a mood / a small gesture / a fragile sound / like cracking ice / maybe / a flower / maybe / a landscape / or maybe just / soft & slow sounds / from somewhere / between the sea / and the sky / hoping to comfort one / somehow / sometimes / in the darkest times

lilaPhoto by Phillipe St-Pierre

You named on your social media that your first EP, songs from a room, bloomed l i l a. Can you speak more to this — the beginnings of what is now l i l a?

oui! i’ve been working on my music for 4 and a half years now and for the first 3 years, i did it under my birth name [marianne poirier]. it was okay at first, but then i started to think and feel like it wasn’t what i wanted. it was not that my name was wrong, that i didn’t like it or anything, it just didn’t feel like it belonged with my music and my art. i wanted to detach myself from myself somehow, and create a full persona for my work. i thought about changing my name for a whole year before finally doing it but it’s kind of funny because in the end, i think i always knew i wanted to be called l i l a.

it felt like it represented me well. when they hear/see/read it, people might think of the flower [lilas/lilac], people might think of the smell, people might think of the colour but then again, it’s none of it and all of it at the same time. l i l a is for the idea of the ephemeral, the revival, the softness, the mystery, the secrecy. i wanted people to know me for who i was becoming and who i am now and not what they saw me as 4 years ago [i was on The Voice..yah..and people kind of identified me as the cute girl wearing a hat]. it kinda made me mad somehow because that is not what/who i am. i am human and that is all. i carry oceans and i play sad music. i wanted something neutral, i wanted it to be mysterious. i wanted anyone to feel like they could be l i l a, you know ? i didn’t want anyone to assume anything about me and my music without even hearing/seeing it and so yah, changing my name was the first step i felt i had to take..and so i did, but i also felt like it wasn’t enough just to change name: i had to give [something] to people. the idea of recording my first EP on my own came really randomly, but it also seemed like the right/best thing i could do. i wanted to do everything myself to show people who l i l a truly was/ gonna be and so i handmade 50 physical copies, all with a different drawing, made the jackets, burned the CD’s, did everything and i said:

here is me: here is l i l a. [it worked pretty well, i must say. and i was surprised! but also very happy and relieved because i was already working on the next thing when it came out]

I really want to acknowledge and appreciate how everything that I’ve come to know about l i l a is very personal and very tender — your song writing, the bedroom recording by you, the unique drawings for each copy and each t-shirt. There is a certain kind of care here that isn’t often seen. Would you be willing to share the importance that carefully hand making and personalizing everything has for you?

seriously, that is so sweet. i am deeply touched and must say that i got kind of emotional reading that’s the way you perceived l i l a because that’s exactly what it’s all about: caring.

doing music/art is my self care and i want it to help other people too. it is crucial for me that anyone feels included and important all the time. everything i do is very personal, yes, but it is also inspired by [everyone and anyone] so that’s why i want people to feel like they can still belong to it and with it. i want them to be able to recognize themselves in all my art and the last thing i want is to be placed on top of anyone [i notice there’s a certain hierarchy and coldness that can take place in the arts and i totally hate it]. i don’t want anyone to feel like what i do is not accessible or unaffordable and i think that is why i feel the urge to do everything myself. i am a real pisces [drama drama] and every single thing goes straight to my heart. i am very emotional and i feel like i want people to experience l i l a in that way too. i think that doing everything [my merch] by myself makes me feel closer to people and it also makes people feel closer to me. i know and they know that when they buy something of mine, they’ll have a real piece of l i l a/me and that they’ll be the only to ever have it. i find that very beautiful and i want to always make sure that everyone buying something from me understands what it means to me and how important it is and how grateful i am for them to even consider my art. I couldn’t do less or else i’d feel like i am not being truly true.  

I read in an article (2019) that at the songs from a room EP launch in the Saint-Jean bookstore in Montreal, folks in the crowd were sitting and listening on cushions in front of you. To me, this sounds very comforting, intimate, and safe. Is this the kind of a environment you are hoping to cultivate at your FLOURISH show on April 27th?

the whole idea behind that night was to recreate my bedroom [because that was where i recorded most of the EP] so my friends and i moved all the tables and chairs, put blankets and cushions on the floor, hung christmas lights and sheets on the walls and ceilings, burnt incense, hung my drawings and even served kombucha! it felt exactly like my bedroom and with all the books around, it was so lovely. i was scared people wouldn’t show up because i called the show very last minute, but we ended up refusing people at the door cause the place was too full ! it was such a nice night, i still get the feels.

for the release of my new EP [quiet as fire], i did it at « le Knockout », which is a independent record store downtown Quebec City. it felt like the perfect place to do it since i released the EP on vinyl. i did things a little differently this time, but the main idea was still to create this very intimate and comforting place. i made it all very dark and the [almost] only lights were those purple christmas lights i hung with shiny garlands on that decor that my dad had built me. the night started with a listening of the vinyl and then i played that new solo set with my loop pedal, mixing both music and poetry. i think people were very surprised by all of it and then again, it was so lovely.

i always want to try and create a whole universe when i’m playing. it can never be just music because in my heart it’s not just music. i want people to be experienced. i want them to let themselves feel [things]. i must say that i am in my solitude a lot when i play. i love solitude and i am not afraid nor sad when i go there. i feel peaceful, nostalgic yes, but also very calm and serene. i feel like it is too often a place within oneself that people are afraid to go? but i really want to try and have people go there during my shows. not to have them feel sad or anything, but to have them realize that it’s all ok. because the music is so deep and introspective, a safe and soothing space is needed and it is my job to create it for them. from the lightning to the way they are seated, i always try to create this intimate and comforting place in which everyone can just breathe and move or close their eyes or be happy or cry [i’ve seen people do it] or dance or feel whatever they want to feel.

i am definitely hoping and going to try and create something similar [but also different, of course] at my FLOURISH show! i can’t wait to see the place and people! xxx

In the same post that you mentioned the blooming of l i l a, you also mentioned that there are many more amazing things to come. Are you able to share what some of those things might be?

Oui mais non mais non mais oui!

i must admit that i always write that [new things are coming out soon] to try and keep people around and have them in that perpetual state of wonder and mystery.  

Then again, I am constantly creating and working on new stuff: videos, songs, poetry, art stuff..and so i might just be working on new merch for Flourish! i don’t even know what i’ll be doing in an hour so who knows what’s coming up?

i guess i could say that we started pre-producing the second EP and that it is going to be crazy cool/good, but not out so soon yet. i will also have more shows coming up, one of which is gonna be pretty epic and it will take place this summer in Quebec City, my city. i cannot say more because it has not been announced yet and i think that people will still have to wait a few weeks before i can say anything serious about it all. BUT i can say watch out for it because you won’t want to miss it ! ! !

See l i l a live:

April 27th @ FLOURISH Festival, Fredericton, NB.

April 28th @ bloom fest, Sackville, NB.

Contribution by Nikki A Basset


Someone once admitted to me that they identify as an intersectional feminist in their tinder profile just to get more dates; an acute example of a bad dude who’s using feminist language but is all for show (swipe left).

BBQT’s new EP, ALL FOR SHOW, is a sweet and salty treat about bad dates and being disappointed by a crush. These high-tempo minute-long tracks will satisfy all your garage-pop cravings (swipe right).

These BB CUTIES, now based in Montreal, met at a BBQ (well, of course) and quickly became great pals and supportive bandmates; each of them contributing some of their own spicy charm to the songwriting process. If you had the pleasure of looking deep into their online message threads, you would find lyrical content that has creeped into every BBQT song.

Despite only writing music for three years, Amery (vocals/guitar) delivers six well-crafted pop songs with silly, but relatable, lyrics. Allison (drums), in distinct BBQT fashion, keeps you swaying with her double snare hits across the entire EP. Jack (guitar/backup vocals) is responsible for most of the sun-kissed lead guitar that gives ALL FOR SHOW its power-pop inspired sound. And finally, Mike (bass/backup vocals), brings much more than just his sweet boyish demeanor; his driving bass lines bring each punchy track to the next.

Forget your crush and let ALL FOR SHOW be the summer soundtrack to your sunny afternoons drinking radlers in the park with all your best pals.

Fav track: FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL. In thirty seconds you are blasted with the lyric that named the EP, noodley back-and-forth lead guitar, and a solo walk-down bass line that is punctuated by an effective single cymbal hit.


BBQT’s: Allison Graves, Mike McDonald, Amery Sandford, Jack Bielli
Photo by: Tricia Robinson

Catch BBQT on their ALL FOR SHOW June 2018 Tour:

June 13th – with Property and Fog Lake @ Brasserie Beaubien, Montreal, QC

June 15th – w/ Dusk, Tough Age, and Peach Kelli Pop, @ The Clocktower Parking Lot Ottawa Explosion Music Festival, Ottawa, ON

June 16th – w/ Rareflower, Mountain Laurel, and Goodbye Stephanie @ King Edward Hall (All Ages Show) presented by Sweaty Palms, Edmonton, AB

June 17th – w/ Vi’s Guys (Canmore) @ The Canmore Legion, Canmore, AB

June 20th – w/ Dark Time, Le Plaisir, and Michael Rault @ Ship and Anchor, Calgary, AB

June 21st – w/ SBDC, BIRDO, and The Allovers @ The Palomino, Calgary, AB