Spaz if you want to.
When I met Nadya Agrawal for the first time, she told me she moved to New York so she could be as loud as she wanted to. Nadya has a loud voice.
And so do I.
I started listening to metal when I was 14 years old. On the weekends, I watched Andrew W.K. host Headbangers Ball. Chris Cornell’s guttural vibrato is the same as Sukshinder Shinda’s. In “Aerials,” System of a Down’s Serj Tankian draws out his notes like Jagjit Singh does over a harmonium. Sukhwinder Singh’s “Omkara” is a battle cry similar to Bjork’s “Army of Me.”
Still, the dude who sat next to me in high school math class told me I “looked like someone who listens to hip-hop.”
When I was 18, a white co-worker asked me to make him a Bollywood mixtape. I knew he was going to be ruffled when I presented him with Punjabi Bhangra songs, rife with dhol and rumbling masculinity.
“But I wanted that other sound. Like, Bollywood. You know, that high-pitched-girl-voice,” he said.
The story repeats itself.
A few months ago, I asked my date to turn up the volume when Rihanna’s “Needed Me” came on the car radio. He said she screams too much and sounds like a man.
“She’s hot though,” he said, sensing my disappointment.
In 2004, Linkin Park remixed Jay Z’s “99 Problems.” Rock and hip-hop—AKA Blues, Swing, and Rockabilly (but society has amnesia)— started living together in the American mainstream again. I think we used the word “genius” to describe it.
The intensity, poeticism, and deliberateness that lives in this music transcends its racialization and gender assignments. This music is doing its job whether it’s pulling you in or pushing you out. It better be doing one of the two or else it’s a lullaby.
In 2012, Shah’s of Sunset began streaming on E! Golnessa AKA “Gigi” gained notoriety for her screaming matches against men who irked her and her intimate accelerations through them. She sat with her legs splayed open in a striped onesie. Her apartment was a mess and she was always really fucking mad.
“I’m like a guy,” she said in a confessional interview.
That’s also what my first boyfriend said about a woman who could make a table laugh, “she’s like a guy.”
I’m not sure what kind of music these women listen to but chances are it’s whatever they like.
From running into the projections against my favorite music, I learned I am the man I want. I am the deep and loud voice. I am the unrestricted confidence. I am the taunting, boastful verse about one glass too many.
I am allowed to exist in and between the mainstream and its subcultures. After all, it was Peaches who told me, “Boys Wanna Be Her.”