Not many people can say that RuPaul is a fan of theirs. But Pride’s Got Talent 2018 finalist, Andrea Di Giovanni, certainly can. Before he takes to the stage at Birmingham Pride this summer, we asked Andrea a few questions on the importance of queer representation, Chechnya, his latest single and what is next for him.
Hi Andrea, we heard that you will be performing at Birmingham Pride this year alongside Years and Years, Lady Leshurr and Aja. How are you feeling?
I’m feeling super excited! Birmingham Pride, compared to all the other Prides so far, did such a great job booking all sorts of queer artists for their lineup. From up and coming to very popular. It’s so refreshing to see that. Also being able to share the stage (The Future Stage, Sunday 26th of May) with incredible acts like Emily Burns, Call Me Loop and Ashnikko is fantastic. I feel blessed and grateful for this opportunity.
You’re right, Prides in other cities, such as Manchester and Brighton, have faced criticism for using mainstream, straight artists. Do you think it’s important for LGBT+ acts to perform at Pride?
Absolutely! Pride was born as a protest. It’s also an opportunity to celebrate the LGBTQIA+ community which faces constant struggles and discrimination. As such, it’s very important that pride festival organisers make an effort to showcase all of our diverse queer talent and give a platform to those who struggle to have one. I’m all for allies, but the main focus of pride is to celebrate and cherish our community. After the backlash from last years at Brighton Pride with Britney Spears headlining, I would have expected a change in main stage lineups. Sadly, only Birmingham pride is doing it right now.
Why do you think Pride is still important?
Pride is incredibly important. Especially in this day and age. It’s a reminder of the struggles and difficulties we, as a community, have to face during our fight for equality. It’s also a joyful celebration that showcases beauty and talent of the queer people. We have to remember that in 70 countries it’s still illegal to be queer, that the situation in Chechnya hasn’t changed, it’s actually worsening, that mainstream media keep on deliberately attacking trans, non-binary and gender nonconforming people. We need Pride to be truly inclusive and to represent the community as a whole, not just lesbian and gay individuals.
How important do you think it is to have LGBT+ representation? Is there any LGBT+ artists or celebrities who inspire you?
It is highly important to have true queer representation in our media. I say ‘true’ because at times it feels like the media focuses on a specific profile, which, in most cases, is a white, cis-gendered, androgynous twink. They are forgetting about the rest of the community and we are starting to notice that.
It’s hard to pick a single artist. Every queer person who dares to live their own truth is an inspiration, an activist and someone to look up to. Having said that, I’m obsessed with MNEK, Olly Alexander and the incredible, Janelle Monáe.
You were also a finalist on Pride’s Got Talent 2018! How was that experience?
It was incredible! You get to know so many queer artists and share the journey with them. Also you develop a fantastic relationship with the Pride in London team. They are like a big family that will always support you and be by your side at all times. You also get to perform at Trafalgar Square, in front of thousands of people. This is an opportunity you don’t want to miss because it’s priceless!!!
Do you have any advice for this years contestants?
I’ll keep it short and simple: be your true self. Authenticity, uniqueness, charisma and talent, that’s what they are looking for.
I’m a big fan of your latest single Bang, what was the inspiration behind that?
Thank you so much. With ‘Bang’ I wanted to create a fun, ‘feel your oats’ moment for everyone to enjoy. It’s a song about letting go of what other people think of you, self judgement and overall negativity. It’s a celebration and ownership of your true self whatever that might be, regardless of sexuality or gender identity.
While writing it, I imagined being at the club with my queer family and having the time of our lives.
Your single, Forbidden Love, was a reaction to the horrific anti-gay purges currently taking place in Chechnya. What made you decide to write this song and why was it important to you?
I always try to combine my activism with my music. With ‘Forbidden Love’ I wanted to show how it feels to live in a country that doesn’t accept who you are. Even worse, it hunts and kills you for it. When I heard about the purges for the first time I was in utter shock. I wanted to remind our community and the world that it’s still happening. Our people are dying and we are looking away. I want to make an appeal to people’s conscience. I truly hope I’ve done so and I promise I’ll keep doing so!
Apart from Pride did you have anything else coming up?
The music video for Bang is about to drop soon on my VEVO channel. Also, my mixtape is coming out in April and I’m beyond excited for that. I can’t wait for the world to listen!!!!
If you could achieve one thing with your music what would it be?
Touching people, making a difference, disruption and change. I just want to reach as many people as possible!