By Jason Kron
Outsiders to Arizona can say what they will about our home’s reputation as a red state with little to offer culturally outside of golf, but they are missing out on all the beautiful people and events that take place here. Perhaps the more conservative aspects of Arizona make the creative individuals and happenings that do take place here even more special.
Case in point: The Doyenne. Born Syeed Poole, he has been composing, releasing, and performing his own music for over ten years in the valley. He incorporates chiptune elements into danceable alternative hip-hop that’s inspired by the likes of Prince, Beyonce, and Frances Farewell Starlite, making his songs perfect for parties. But there is an introspective element here that makes what he does deeper than mere party jams, as his lyrics often seem akin to journal entries put to music. Though there are perhaps too many musicians in this world, it is rare to come across one such as The Doyenne, one who truly bares their soul and is being completely themselves.
He’s releasing his new album The Gestalt on Friday, December 6th, the name of which comes from a previous song of his entitled “Lady Gestalt.” “It was about change. Then I found out more recently that Gestalt can refer to a whole that’s more than the sum of its parts,” he explains. “That’s what I wanted the album to be: a sonic experience that’s greater than the sum of its parts.”
He says that the album’s sound is also the product of an energy that comes from being the outcast. “I feel deeply and tremendously ‘other’d’ a lot of the time,” he says. “When you’re gay and black, you occupy a limbo space between blackness and queerness and there’s no escape from being criticized, judged or ignored when you lean too far into either state. This time, I’m just trying to own the space I’m in, rather than fight it.”
He’s put out two singles from the album on his Soundcloud, “Strange Kind of Love” and “Drive,” both of which reflect this kind of energy. Featuring co-production by MCMT, these songs would fit in on current pop radio but also pay no mind to what is currently popular.
Like his influences, The Doyenne’s work has an element of timelessness, something that could fit into the musical landscape of 1984 as well as 2019. “My old philosophies with regards to music was to get it in one take, slap in the production, and pay specific regard to not following trends,” he says. “That’s why it’s been a dream to work with a producer who understands what I’m trying to say through music and just, objectively, makes it all better.”
The Doyenne has become well known for energetic and theatrical live shows, and a recent senior project performance influenced him to step up his game even further. “It was the first time I got to play with lighting, a projector, and costumes in a way that I’d never done before. I even got to incorporate props and a costume change halfway through,” he says. “That’s definitely what I want to keep giving my audience: something to see and feel rather than something just to listen to, even if my toolset is still DIY in nature.”
He’ll be performing on October 26th at an event in Phoenix’s Melrose District that its organizer Micah James has labeled a “queer dance fundraiser party.” (The exact address will be announced on Facebook the day of the party.) There is a $10 suggested donation (no one is turned away), and 100% of the proceeds will be going to the Southwest Indigenous Women’s Coalition, an organization that fights to end domestic and sexual violence toward indigenous women. In the spirit of Halloween, it is encouraged that attendees dress in the spirit of the holiday (demonic, witchy, etc.).
The Doyenne will be performing some of the songs from The Gestalt at this event, and it will be the perfect environment to experience the magic that he has to offer.