Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Reveal Party’s “You Stole A Year Of My Life” EP Reclaims the Past and Showcases the Future for Trans Musicians

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“If you’re not writing honestly, then honestly, why are you writing?” – Emily Holm Nyhuus

Old writing carries its own dusty magic – and like the mildew on an ancient page, it can make your stomach turn. If you’ve found yourself flipping the page of a journal you used five or so years ago, you know what I mean. The person who wrote the pages is a you that still exists in your body even if so much has changed. In each sentence, there are parts of you that you love and continue to nurture. There are ugly parts you might have tried to grow out of, but haven’t quite escaped. And then there are memories that whizz back to life from deep within your brain as you come back into contact with them.

Every revelation we have about ourselves between the time a journal entry is written and the time we revisit it increases this dissonance, and for LGBT+ people, the discovery and sharing of one’s true identity can dramatically transform the way one processes and externalize their thoughts.

“I came out to everyone in January 2019, and so my songwriting took a turn after that I could be more honest with some of the feelings,” says singer/songwriter Emily Holm Nyhuus of Reveal Party over Zoom. “I’d always related to isolation and shit like that, but now I really understood where those things came from.”

In the context of “You Stole a Year Of My Life,” Reveal Party’s debut EP, ‘understood’ feels like a massive understatement. The honesty and strength inherent in these richly-textured pop songs weave a battle flag for trans people everywhere. At the heart of the music is the deep and universal dream of love triumphing over fear.

Like so much incredible art, “You Stole A Year Of My Life” was born out of struggle, and Nyhuus’ story has already become known in the Denmark music scene. Unlike the U.S., where hormone therapy for trans people is relatively accessible through organizations like Planned Parenthood, Denmark’s healthcare system holds a monopoly on treatment. Nyhuus had to wait fifteen months to secure treatment through Denmark’s system, casting a shadow over what should have been a joyful first year of her new life.

The miracle of “You Stole A Year Of My Life” is its feeling of reclamation. Nyhuus’ lyrics are masterful, and many times they make statements that manage to be direct and unexpected at the same time. This is rarely clearer than on the lead single “I’m a Girl,” which wields immense power through lines like, “I’m a girl insofar as we exist,” and “I’m a girl but that shouldn’t make you sad.”

Of course, this is only part of the record’s power. Reveal Party is gifted with an incredible sonic impulse, levying melody and noise with the skill of the very best bands around. Emily, along with co-producer and guitarist Marius Svejdal Bertelsen, meld the classic rock instruments into a stunning tapestry of melody and noise that runs the gamut of shoegaze, Midwest emo and bedroom pop. Each song shimmers, and nothing is lost.

Hearing Emily talk, it’s so clear that her art is neither a result of the need to tell her own story nor an evitable product of musical obsession, but a wonderful collision of the two. Emily is a musician, and whatever her story happened to be, she would find a way to tell it. It’s the sort of crossroads to be very thankful for. If there’s anything I hope Reveal Party knows, it’s that they make not only wonderful music, but important music that’s starting the very movement that Emily wishes for over the course of our many hours of chatting:

“A lot of what is queer canon is not made by queer people,” says Nyhuus. “You’re getting more of it, but historically, listening to Madonna’s Vogue, or Cher – they’re not queer women. But they’ve become queer icons. And I think it’s time that we have a shift towards of our own.”

Image via Reveal Party

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