The Blank Minds are an indie-rock band from SoCal who have just released a music video for their song “Transient.” The video starts with Flynn riding his bike with the transgender flag on him like a cape and then showcases his band, and members from the community dancing in their own way. The word transient means “lasting only for a short time; impermanent” which probably explains Flynn living in a female social role for part of his life and then transitioning into the man he is today.
The lyrics of the song Transient seem to talk about his personal coming out and coming to terms process with his transition and the people around him. The recording of the song is a bit raw and sometimes feels like a jam band, but the emotion is still captured in a way that is impacting. The best part of this song is the vocal melody which changes rhythm often and in a clever way. Rock The Pigeon had the opportunity to ask The Blank Minds a few questions… Enjoy the video and please keep scrolling to hear their story!
RTP: Introduce our readers to The Blank Minds… How long have you been a band? How did you all meet and start playing music together?
BM: Funny story actually, this group originally originally started as a church group. My first outlet as a musician was through this worship group at my church but as I grew more and more into my queerness my relationship with the church quickly disintegrated. Nathan Baldridge, the band’s first bassist, and I took that church band and made an alt. rock cover band called Grounded. That group split up after a few gigs, but our first real show left me with such an adrenaline rush that I knew I wanted to do this for the rest of my life. I reconnected with Ryan, our guitarist, junior year of high school when he moved back to LA from San Francisco. We actually were best friends in elementary school, playing dragons and stuff, and I thought he was like the coolest kid in high school. I really wanted to be his friend so I would ask him if he’d want to jam together, and we’d hang out during passing period and make music by the music room. After a bit of this I invited him to be a part of the band. From there Nathan recruited Drew after performing with him through Hamilton High’s music program. My favorite thing to tell people is how Drew skateboarded two miles and took two buses to get to our first ever practice and that’s when I knew I wanted to work with him for a long time because that’s the passion and dedication I want in my life. We stuck with this line-up for about a year, gigging all around and recording our first EP “Self-Titled.” We then mostly split ways after we graduated as I attended UC Berkeley and Nathan went to Drexel in Philadelphia. I had one of the worst semesters of my life at UCB, and had to move home after fall semester. Shortly thereafter I came out as trans and that’s when our movement as a queer activist band really started. We split ways with Nathan Baldridge the following summer as the long distance between Philly and LA was not feasible. Nathan Lopez stumbled into our lives somewhere around then. I really enjoyed hanging out with him and knew that he was a really talented bass player. I warned him that this band was a huge time commitment and investment but he assured me he was ready. Flash forward 6 months later and he’s the most wonderful bassist, full of incredible talent, a level head and a PLETHORA of sarcasm. Love that guy. It’s been a journey but I think every month we get more and more proud of how much we’ve done and how much we continue to aspire to do. I have a really bad habit of wanting to do way too much and I’m constantly pushing and pushing for us to do more. But overall I am really proud of how far we’ve come and how much we’ve developed in terms of sound, management and production. We pretty much do everything ourselves, management, social media, graphic design, etc. That’s something I’m probably the most proud of.
RTP: Is every member in the band transgender? Also, can you explain the chemistry of the band members?
BM: Just Flynn, the lead singer, is trans FTM. We actually get that question a lot because we are very vocal about being trans-fronted but the other 3 members are just really strong allies. Sometimes we have to have really in depth conversations about privilege and the differences between being cis and trans and what that means but the group has always been extremely supportive of my transition. It was really important for me to have a strong support group of males during my transition because I have never really had a lot of male best friends. Having this group helped me get over a lot of my insecurities with not being masculine enough and not passing well enough and I can never thank them enough for showing me that there isn’t just one stereotypical way to be a man.
RTP: When was the song Transient written? Who wrote it? What does the song mean to the band?
BM: I wrote the song Transient about a year and a half ago in the spring of 2017. I had just moved back to Los Angeles after dropping out of UC Berkeley and coming out as transgender. I was in a really dark place, completely unhappy with myself, my direction in life and having a really difficult time explaining my identity to other people and being proud in it. I was having a lot of trouble communicating with my family and explaining my struggles with them, so there was a lot of disconnect there as well. At the time, writing the song just meant having an escape and having an outlet, but now it has evolved into kind of like an anthem for my journey. It’s really beautiful to see other people connecting with the lyrics, but also really disheartening because that means other people are still going through all that bullshit I was going through at the time and I really wish no one ever had to go through that. It’s really hard to be yourself even without any judgement, and when people continually keep questioning why you made that decision and if it was even worth it it makes trying to live your truth soul crushing. The song to me know kind of represents the new direction of the band. We’ve always been activists and very vocal about our beliefs, but this is the first song that kind of blatantly outlines my story and my struggles and I think that’s really awesome and I can’t wait to see where we go with this direction. The music video is also probably equally as important as the song to me. I have seen primarily white cisgender straight persons represented in music videos for most of my life, and it was really important to me to make something that showcased people like me or just people who never get the chance to be in music videos. Seeing people who are usually too uncomfortable to even be on camera, dancing their hearts out was really awesome and the responses we got were even better. One person said that at first they didn’t even want to do the project because while filming it they felt too feminine and didn’t want to promote that part of themselves as a trans man. But then they realized that that’s what the project was about, breaking the idea that there is only one way to be a trans man person. I never even thought about it like that, and it made my day to hear that. It took me like 20 hours to edit that music video but I’m really glad I took my time with it. I just wanted it to be perfect or at least the best it can be, because I think our community deserves that.
RTP: How has the response from the community been?
BM: So far the response has been extremely positive. A lot of people have really enjoyed the music video and reached out to say that seeing representation of themselves in our video was really powerful and uplifting. Especially because we had people at every stage of their transition, there was something for everyone to relate to. I think often when trans people are represented its always in a one dimension manner, so still only a tiny sliver of the community is being portrayed.
RTP: What are your future plans as a band?
BM: I think for right now our future plan is just to get through the month of August. We have a tour, a music festival and the release of our sophomore EP Becoming Him. After that we don’t really have a game plan, just write music, film some music videos and play more shows, but I am sure we will come up with some other big plans that we want to do right after August. We always find a way to bury ourselves in planning something for the band.
RTP: Do you have any upcoming releases or shows that you want to share with our readers?
BM: Yes! As I mentioned earlier, we are so excited to finally share our EP “Becoming Him” on all music platforms August 3rd. It’s a project very near and dear to my heart because it really deals with my struggles balancing my relationship with my masculinity and my queerness. I feel like this project has really walked through my transition with me, starting with when I was writing some of the songs pre-transition and ending with us finishing the recording literally a day before I got top surgery. I’m really excited to showcase this kind of new Indie Rock side of us and I really hope that people enjoy it and enjoy the message behind the words. We also are hosting a music festival on August 25th in Downtown LA called Becoming Us Fest. It’s a festival, our tour homecoming show, and a fundraiser for binders for trans youth that don’t have access. We’re trying to do a lot of things in a short amount of time, but ultimately it’s just about creating a safe, fun environment for people to enjoy music. And oh yeah we are also touring around CA from August 9th-19th!
More info: http://theblankminds.com/
If you are looking for more music by trans artists check out this playlist on Spotify:
Article by Ryan Cassata