John Grant & Andy Butler /Hercules & Love Affair - "I Try To Talk To You"
In June we will be featuring all LGBTQ+ artists in honor of LGBTQ Pride Month
In 2008, Andy Butler created Hercules and Love Affair, a dance music project with a rotating cast of musicians. Butler, who grew up in an abusive household, found solace in Greek mythology and club music. He became famous for "Blind," a song performed with musician and friend Antony Hegarty, which won Pitchfork's Best Song of 2008.
"'Blind' was about growing up a gay kid, my immediate family and social group rejecting me, and asking why I was born into this situation. But knowing that as soon as I could escape, I would, and that I would find freedom and solace. As an adult, however, I found a life full of excess and other wounded people and confusion. Thus, I felt blind," he told the New York Times.
The project for 2014, Feast of the Broken Heart, is a sonic achievement, with peaks of joyful energy, homage to disco and also heartwrenching emotional lows. The album was a collaboration with Viennese house revivalists and also features a song with John Grant, who sings about being HIV-positive.
Meanwhile, John Grant makes the kind of music that changes lives. Sometimes even saves them. In his big, baritone voice, he sings – with a candour that stops you in your tracks – of lust, love, addiction, oppression, HIV and self-loathing. British singer-songwriter Tom Robinson, one of the very first rock musicians to come out as gay, believes that if Grant had been around in the Sixties, “he could have saved me 10 or 15 years of heartache and pain”.
“Mmm, that’s lovely,” says Grant, swilling a glass of icy water. We’re in the beer garden of a London pub, sheltering from the sun at the shady end of a wooden table. It’s taken no time at all for the conversation to become intense. Grant is a warm, wry presence – all bear hugs and belly laughs – but just like his music, he is immediately, startlingly frank; ripping himself open at every turn and casually inviting me to have a look.
Grant knows better than anyone the solace that music can provide. Growing up in a conservative, religious town in Michigan, he listened to Culture Club in secret, sensing a kinship with Boy George before he even understood why. It was only in his mid-twenties – around the time he joined alt-rock band The Czars – that he came out as gay.
In their collaboration something incredible was made. This song in particular speaks on so many levels, which is ironic because it talks about how the lead singer wants to, but can’t, talk to his partner.
So today, with a few stifled attempts, I choose John Grant & Andy Butler w/Hercules & Love Affair’s "I Try To Talk To You" as my, break down the silent towers, open up to the warm touch of your skin, slide a hand down your back, song for a, the smell of your neck, the taste of your lip, the heavily lashed lid that reveals your sparkling eye, Tuesday.