Skye Cooper is set to take her music to a wider audience in Great Britain and the world. After serving 6 years in Afghanistan with the British military, Skye faced down her crisis and came out to the world. This struggle, the central experience of Transgender life, informs her powerful lyrics and gritty performance. Her EP Hello World/Open Eyes was released in 2020, videos are available on YouTube, and a killer playlist on Spotify.
My interview with Skye @electricsky3s on Instagram:
Betty Wing: For an old-school (no cassettes necessary) person like me, hearing the proudly affirming message of your transition echoes back to the time when those messages were hard to come by outside of a support group. You had to reach inside yourself to overcome internalized societal pressures and conditioning. Was this process also central to your coming out as an artist?
Skye Cooper: I think the two were interconnected. A lot of art comes from personal experiences, coming out and transitioning are pretty big things and involve a lot of emotions, which can all act as inspiration to create something. It makes me happy to think that this can then act as a support for others.
BW: You could be the new Bowie if you wanted to. Are there any musical influences that inspired you?
SC: Ha, that would be amazing, I don’t think I’m quite on that level though.
Musical influences, there are quite a lot in terms of style, I like a lot of music from different genres and I try to blend genres where I can. I like heavier music like Halestorm, Muse, Metallica, but then I also like electronic, dance and pop. Sometimes its hard to pick and choose between them.
BW: You have great focus though, it comes through uniquely, as you!
SC: I’m very familiar with the dynamic of seeking to cover feelings of dysphoria by seeking the opposite extreme. Many of the people I transitioned with had experience serving in the military in an elite forces capacity. But it did not prevent them from ultimately accepting themselves. Its only in coming to terms that we recognize our trans identity as both our source – and result of – strength, peace, and being.
Did any experiences during your service underscore that discovery in yourself. I say this because in many nations, the modern military has accommodation for Transgender members to serve, as in GB since 2014.
I think for me, serving in the military was a case of seeking a typically masculine role in order to help compensate for the dysphoria like you say. It was useful though as military service does build your self-confidence and give some perspective on the world. I joined at a young age and basically matured in the forces, as I did so, I realized that military life wasn’t for me and that I’d be happier if I followed my own path.
BW Your hands are on the pulse to establish yourself as a major Rock musician. In the 21st Century, mainstream music seems predominantly to favor other kinds of expression. How did you arrive here, and how does that convey your trans-POV?
SC I have always been attracted to rock music as its kind of anti-establishment and unapologetic. I think that hits a chord with me because being trans is still not accepted, and being out is a rebellious act.
I think rock music suits it, punk even more so.
BW I saw you use the word, Doublespeak, in the Weapons of Mass Persuasion video. Its a word with roots in the seminal English author George Orwell’s book 1984. Conditioning was employed as education in Huxley’s Brave New World. Is there any influence from dystopian fiction in your music?
SC Ha, yes. I really like Aldous Huxley’s work, especially The Doors of Perception. There is a little influence from dystopian fiction, however I find that the world can be dystopic enough in some respects. I think the book that first put me on to understanding how language is used to control people was ‘The Tyranny of Words’ which I would recommend to anyone interested in language.
There’s in GB a crisis regarding the reality and acceptance of Transgender identity around the Gender Recognition Act, and everything that entails for the lives of Trans Women. How does this affect you personally, and has it entered your writing at all? I see you as the perfect foil in the struggle against the TERFs and their kind.
Yeah, the UK is a little behind the times on trans rights. For me personally, I’d rather have adequate medical treatment before arguing over a piece of paper and so would like to see the UK catch up to other places in the world in regards to healthcare first. When it comes to TERFs, the best revenge is living well, so that’s what I try and do.
The thing is, if you argue with them, you just get angry and have to sit with that. If I make them angry just by existing, then I’ve already won.
BW You should see it here in the US – its maddening that the courts are allowing discrimination against the LGBTQI community on Religious grounds.
SC The US is a little God crazy eh?
If only that’s what it was!