Lesbros: Astronautalis

The trusty website, UrbanDictionary.com, has several definitions for the term lesbro:

1. A man who has more friendships with lesbians than other women or men.

2. The male equivalent of a fag hag.

3. A heterosexual man who is either one or both of the following: a brother to one or more lesbian sisters, or, friends with a disproportionate amount of homosexual women. “Wow, your brother really only hangs out with gay girls, doesn’t he! And you’re a big gay yourself, sister! What a lesbro you’ve got there!”

To us, a lesbro is a little bit of all, but at his core, a lesbro is a male friend to at least one, but possibly several, lesbians. This column shares a little bit about some famous lesbros that we love.

This week’s Lesbro: Astronautalis.

Astronautalis is an artist who fuses hip-hop with indie rock, which you can hear on his new album, This is Our Science, coming out this fall on Fake Four Records. Collaborators include Tegan Quin, P.O.S., Alias and .

 

AfterEllen.com: Of the above three definitions of Lesbro, which do you think describes you best?

Astronautalis: I think I like your definition better than Urban Dictionary’s. They leave no room for a grey area. To them, it is either something you are born into or lifestyle choice you have decided on. What about straight guys who don’t even realize they have tons of lesbian friends, till one day they get asked to do an interview with AfterEllen.com? Yeah! What about us? I choose option 4: A straight guy who loves the holy hell out of all of his friends, many of which happen to be (gasp!) lesbians!

AE: What is the best thing about your lesbian friends?

Astronautalis:
That funny moment when you and one of your lesbian friends simultaneously realize that you have the exact same taste in women, and you both eye each other slyly, and smile as you finish off your scotches and race to order the next round. That is an experience that is totally unique to that relationship; there is no competition, just a mutual respect — like when an astronaut meets a ninja.

AE: What stereotype about lesbians have you found to be false?

Astronautalis:
Well pretty much everything Cinemax taught me about lesbians has turned out to be false. Out of all of my lesbian friends, none of them are French space aliens traveling through the universe solving couples “relationship” problems through well guided naked dry humping! I was living a lie until I went to theater school.

AE: What do you think it is specifically that draws you towards being friends with lesbians?

Astronautalis:
While I think there is a certainly something to be said for being in a friendship with a woman without sexual tension, I can’t say that there is a specific pull. I am friends with people I love, trust, and respect — and who, in turn, love, trust, and respect me as well. If those friends turn about to be lesbians, dope! Let’s open a bottle of single malt and talk about how hot Christina Hendricks is!

AE: How have your girlfriends responded to your friendships with lesbians?

Astronautalis:
Psh, if a girlfriend did have a problem with my friendships with lesbians, she would cease to be my girlfriend. Problem solved. Next question!

AE: You have toured with Tegan and Sara a lot, not necessarily the most obvious match up: How did you get in touch with them?

Astronautalis:
Through some magic, voodoo, and the incredible business acumen of my booking agent, I managed to sweet talk my way into opening up for them once in Seattle. I must have slid by without making a total ass of myself, because they asked me to go to Europe with them shortly there after. Then they asked me to play some Canadian shows. Then they asked me to go to Australia with them. That reminds me, I need to send them a fruit basket, or 20 thank you cards, a shoe box full of kittens or something.

AE: Were you surprised when they asked you to tour with them?

Astronautalis:
Thunderstruck would be the more accurate word. I still remember, quite vividly, the night I became a fan of their music. I was on tour years and years ago, asleep in the back of the van, when my DJ, Rerog, and my manager, Harpoon Larry, woke me up to listen to some song on the radio called “Walking With A Ghost.” Us three haggard old rap dudes were rendered mute as the song played out and our van sailed through the deep space vacuum of the warm Wyoming night. I bought So Jealous the very next day and still have almost every word memorized.

One of the strange perks of becoming a musician is that you get to meet a lot of the people who inspire you, and while often those meetings are a great let down as you place these people on impossible pedestals, I am happy to say that those two women were even greater than I could have possibly imagined them to be. I am eternally grateful for their support of my music, but truly lucky to count them as friends. Tegan and Sara are real gems.

AE: What was it like performing for their crowd?

Astronautalis:
My shows start out very, um, aggressive. The first song I sang on those tours is called “The Wondersmith and His Sons” and it is about a con-man who paints himself into a corner that he cannot talk his way out of, and has to resort to killing his family to escape his crime. Within seconds of the song starting, I would jump off stage and start climbing all over the security barrier, rapping and screaming in everyone’s faces until my veins burst. While the shows actually went really, really well, — T&S has such an astoundingly open minded fan base — they always started out the same. And I’ll tell you what, you haven’t truly lived until you have made 2,000 girls recoil in terror at once.

AE: I know Tegan just sang on your new record. Do you want to talk about that collaboration and the new album?

Astronautalis: My work previous to this latest record had always been more like historical-fiction-hip-hop, as I was always more drawn to telling other people’s stories instead of exploring my own life in song. This is all in stark contrast to my live show and every other aspect of my career, as I am an open book with my fans online, and my concerts are much more like “Uncle Andy’s story time” than a traditional rap show. When I decided to focus on the my own life for this record — specifically the last seven years I have spent touring all over the world — I knew I had to work with T&S in some aspect, as they have played such a great role and influence in my life and career as of late.

The song Tegan is on is called “Contrails.” It is over a piece of music made by a great beat maker from SLC named Broken, and speaks directly to the thing you always end up talking about out on the road — you know, failed relationships and lost love. I also throw some references to the French mountain climber Lionel Terray, too. You know, just to keep it hip-hop. Word!

AE: Does Tegan rap?

Astronautalis: Psh! Tegan got that hot fire; one of the trillest in the game, son. Got all them haters so jealous! Respecanize!

AE: Obviously you forged some sort of a friendship with Tegan and Sara. Did that play a part in your support of Sara’s recent blog post about Tyler the Creator’s homophobia. Is this because you are a Lesbro? Can you elaborate on your feelings surrounding this?

Astronautalis: While my friendship with Sara played a part in my seeing this open letter sooner than later, I am pretty sure the topic and the people involved would have piqued my interest regardless. My support of this was just common sense. It is totally absurd that the press and the public continually judge people on a sliding scale based on how enamored we are by their personality/career. Kobe Bryant gets rightfully torn to pieces for getting caught calling a ref a fag on camera and yet, Tyler spouts the same word continuously and we all smile and nod our head to the beat.

I am a rapper. I grew up on — and still continue to listen to — rap music that is just as vile as what Tyler is putting out there, so I am certainly not calling for his censorship and I do not think Sara is either. Sometimes as elegant and insightful as Kubrick, rap can shine a brilliant light on a world we did not know or chose to ignore. At the same time, perhaps even in the same breath, rap can just as easily become the mindless escapism of a John Woo action movie.

While I do defend the right for rap to fill both of those roles in music, I think the discussion needs to be reopened and tailor-fitted to this strange crossroads we are in with the gay rights struggle. I do not know what it means that we are living in an age where anti-gay slurs can be tossed around so casually without admonishment. While at the same time, support for gay marriage grows around the country, we repeal DADT, and even this very same week, we see Rick Welts, CEO of the Phoenix Suns come out to great support from the NBA and professional sports on the whole.

But, I am really proud of Sara for having the guts to point our widespread cultural hypocrisy in regards to this issue, and now we, as a culture and an industry — myself included — need to give serious thought to how we are reconciling these conflicting desires in our minds.

This is Our Science drops Sept. 13. For more on Astronautalis, visit modelcitizens.org.


 

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