Vendredi, 19 juillet 2024
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    Atif Siddiqi blazes trail as Tranie Tronic

    Tranie Tronic is the stage name of Montreal multi-disciplinary artist Atif Siddiqi who has blazed a trail for nonbinary performers for more than 30 years. Siddiqi grew up in Pakistan and Bangladesh before studying fashion design in Los Angeles and fine arts in Montreal where in the 1990s Siddiqi immersed themself in Montreal’s burgeoning and cutting-edge music and queer scenes.

    Their work revolves around gender identity, justice, personal transformation and metamorphosis, and includes the long-form experimental documentary M! Mom, Madonna and Me, as well as audio recordings of Amethyst’s Universe and Tranie Tronic’s new orchestral electro pop album Transgression and its lead single “Love The Police” which were inspired by the night Siddiqi was drugged, robbed and assaulted at their Montreal residence by a man they met online in March 2018.

    We recently sat down for a candid Q&A which has been edited for length and clarity.

    What was it like growing up as a nonbinary teenager in Karachi, Pakistan, and then in Dhaka, Bangladesh?
    Atif Siddiqi : I left Pakistan in 1981 at age 11 to live in Dhaka for three-and-a-half years because my Dad was a defense attaché at the Embassy of Pakistan, a decade after the 1971 Bangladesh War of Independence. I lived there from the ages of 11 to 15, and it was there that I came into my sexual awakening and realization about my sexual orientation. But I stayed closeted like teenagers did at that time. I only came out in Los Angeles when I turned 18.

    That was in 1988. How did that happen?
    Atif Siddiqi : I had school friends who also lived in the same condo complex. Thanks to one of the girls, I came out because she had a crush on me and I had to tell her, and she told everybody. Then I came out to my mom and in 1992 I came out to my dad.

    What was the reaction of your parents?
    Atif Siddiqi : It took a lot of time for them to come around.

    Some news stories have mistaken you for trans.
    Atif Siddiqi : I am nonbinary. I’ve always been nonbinary. But back in the 80s and 90s, I labeled myself as androgynous because these new terms did not exist. We only had the option of being gay or transsexual which was the term people used for anybody wanting to transition. We didn’t have all this other vocabulary invented in the 21st century. I go by he, she, they – anything goes. But call me they in this interview.

    You famously dressed as a female for a photo shoot in Karachi in 1992.
    Atif Siddiqi : Back then Pakistan was still pretty closeted, not what it is today. I did this queer-positive photo shoot with a very well-known hairstylist and designer who is still very supportive of the LGBTQ community. The public reaction to the media coverage was scandalous. People from all over the country wanted to know who I was and threatened the hairstylist and designer. It was pretty crazy.

    When you moved to Montreal in 1993, how did you deal with racism within the queer

    Atif Siddiqi : I didn’t date anyone. Those were celibate years. I felt rejected. When I was desired, it was the older man, young boy kind of thing. I was exotified. And I took it personally, like I did in Los Angeles where the culture was “straight-acting gay white male seeking gay white male, no fats, no femmes.”

    Tranie Tronic made her debut in the summer of 2004 at Divers/Cité, Montreal’s original Pride festival. How did you come up with your stage name?
    Atif Siddiqi : I was dating this guy who was into racing cars and a tronic transmission – or tronic tranny – is a car part. Back then we used to call anybody who was transgender tranny as well. That’s the term people used and I thought it was a great play on words to change the spelling and call myself Tranie Tronic. I called my debut album Transmission. Some trans people that didn’t like it, but otherwise people have been fine. Tranie Tronic debuted at Divers/Cité where I performed on the electroclash Sex Garage stage. It was fun. I think we had a sense of community and being part of a larger music scene.

    Despite this community, your professional opportunities were still limited.
    Atif Siddiqi : I quickly learnt that I wasn’t going to have mainstream success as an artist.
    I was put in that box of South Asian queer artists. My possibilities were to perform in gay clubs or in South Asian festivals. Which is why I went from performing live to making videos which moved my work internationally.

    You have always felt outside of drag culture but were featured in a 2018 episode of the CBC series Canada’s a Drag.
    Atif Siddiqi : I told them I was not a drag queen but they were like, “No, no, we love that. We want to have you part of the series anyway!” So I said okay.

    You continue to create important work. What was the inspiration behind your new album Transgression?
    Atif Siddiqi : My father died in 2016 and two years later I was assaulted by a guy I met online. It was a huge trauma for me, I needed to express myself, and so I wrote this album.

    The assault directly inspired your single “Love The Police.” Has there been any resolution to your dossier?
    Atif Siddiqi : None. The police did the minimum they had to do for this case. But I have moved on. I was in the studio yesterday working on a dance song. It is therapeutic to get on the dancefloor and release one’s anger and frustration.

    You are a nonbinary pioneer. How do you feel about being called a living legend?
    Atif Siddiqi : I’ll take it!

    You’ve earned it.
    Atif Siddiqi : And I’m not done. I’m working on a short documentary for Montreal’s Image+Nation queer film festival and I have potential live performances coming up in the fall. I’m looking forward to performing in front of a live audience again.

    INFOS | The Transgression album by Tranie Tronic is now available.

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