#QueeringLockdown Music Special Talking with Bristol-based musician and poet Freddie Lewis about Trans Joy, Empathy, and Gratitude Journaling.

Freddie sporting pink hair, nose ring, ear ring on the left side, silver chain necklace, black and white stripey Obey t-shirt. Courtesy the artist.

A little introduction before we start: First of all, I hope you are ok. I first bumped into the amazing Freddie Lewis on Instagram last July. It was for a digital initiative called #TellingMyTransStory , created in response to the @transrightscollectiveuk protest in London being cancelled to encourage trans folx to share their own stories and take up space. “As Trans People we all have our own stories, but often media will reduce us to one story. A story that is untrue, a story that seeks to maintain cis-het normativity, and a story that doesn’t center us and our safety”, says Freddie in the IGTV video below.

Francesco Ferranti: Hey Freddie, who are you and what you do?

Freddie Lewis: I’m Freddie Lewis, I’m a songwriter, poet, activist and artist based in Bristol, UK. I write acoustic indie and spoken word pieces with political undertones, poetic overtones and honest thought-provoking lyrics. I love to combine simple and soothing melodic lines with intricate lyrical storytelling. From calming pop songs about staying grounded and the rebellion of joy in a capitalist society, to acoustic folk-hop break up ballads to PTSD – authenticity and self-love are at the centre of all that I write.

I am also at university studying what I love – songwriting. And in my free time I like to read all sorts – from poetry to feminist literature. I also recently ordered stuff to start knitting so that one day I can achieve my dreams of retiring to the country and knitting fresh garm for my hairless cats.

Francesco Ferranti: What does #QueeringLockdown mean to you? What did inspire you to take part in my project?

Freddie Lewis: For me #QueeringLockdown means a lot of things. To me ‘Queering’ something is just shaking it up a little. Doing it in a way that deviates from the norm, but stays true to you. It means shining brightly even though it feels like it’s a dark time to be queer. It means relishing in the queer joy or the queer tears of your chosen family via Zoom with a hot chocolate and being kind to yourself. It means whatever it needs to mean for you.

For me personally, I’ve queered Lockdown by writing my ass off, getting up early and gratitude journaling, staying centred and grounded and powerful even when every day it feels like there’s a new bit of devastating trans news. Staying kind and empathetic even when everyone is frustrated and upset. A bit of defiance, a bit of forgiveness, accepting the messiness of it all and just cracking on with it!

Freddie poses in double denim and wire frame glasses. He is wearing a chain necklace with butterflies on and has blue crew cut hair. He looks right down the lens. Courtesy the artist.

Francesco Ferranti: Which are the three things you miss the most during Quarantine? 

Freddie Lewis: I miss people watching in coffee shops. It’s one of my favourite things to do is just watch the world go by and listen to music for an hour or so. It’s actually the last thing I did before this lockdown was just go sit in a coffee shop and observe. Maybe bring a little book and a pen and paper to make notes if I’m feeling extra queer coffee shop nerd energy.

I miss hugging strangers, hugging in general really. I’m such a big hugger and I just want to SQUEEZE everyone. Also as a general note, don’t hug strangers if unsafe. I just mean on nights out and that. Always being a late night chip shop therapist.

I miss my mum. It’s been a while since I’ve seen her now. I was able to see her in October briefly but really missing being able to freely go home and back and stay there. We spend a lot of time on the phone and texting and that but yeah – not quite the same as a cup of herbal tea and a natter.

Freddie smiles at the camera while touching his belly with a finger, posing in his Calvin Klein underwear. His body is covered in tattoos, such as “Resilient” near the neck area. Courtesy the artist.

Francesco Ferranti: 3 things you have learned so far?

Freddie Lewis:

  • Exercise helps my mental health a lot! I never thought I’d be a gym kinda guy but… I kinda miss the gym :/ 
  • Having a plan for when it goes wrong helps. My little lockdown ‘pick up the pieces’ routine has been ‘have a green tea, sit by the back door, have a little read and then write a list’. Just having a quick go-to process has helps me to turn things around pretty quickly when I have psychologically stacked it.
  • Gratitude journaling !!! So grounding !!! Feels so nice !!! Don’t get me wrong it’s tricky to get the habit in place, I still miss the odd day here and there, but it’s well worth persevering. Definitely has done wonders for my general mood.

Francesco Ferranti: Are you working on any exciting projects in this Lockdown?

Freddie Lewis: I’ve got lots of projects at the moment. All I Have is I is the most recent song that I finished. It’s about staying grounded and happy in this capitalist society.

Rebelling by just not competing with other people and staying true to yourself. I also just finished a song which should be up on my IGTV soon called Afterglow which I mentioned earlier – it’s a sort of break up song with trauma. It was very healing to write and I love singing it. 

I’m also doing a fair bit of collaboration and I’ve got some really exciting and top-secret stuff planned for 2021. 

Francesco Ferranti: What are your tips for self-care in these challenging times?

Freddie Lewis:

  • My number one tip is to integrate self-care as a constant part of your routine. I used to picture it like something I did when things got really bad to keep myself safe and calm but now it’s a daily thing.
  • I try and treat myself like my own kid sometimes – make sure I eat well, get to bed on time, read enough and do all my homework. That’s a big part of it. Self-care is definitely in the mundane stuff as well as the ‘relax and have a bath stuff’. If you think about it as looking after a kid – you wouldn’t just constantly give your give a bath of tell them to relax, caring for a kid is also sorting out the life admin and encouraging them to push themselves in their learning and their hobbies. I just treat myself like that really. 
  • Watching your self-talk. Like a hawk. Especially in lockdown we are all spending a lot of time to ourselves or with a small group of people – be nice to yourself all the time. You drop your coffee? Instead of muttering ‘Oh ffs Freddie you are so clumsy’ try ‘oh dear! That’s okay I’ll go get the carpet cleaner – I needed to hoover here anyway’. Just be nice to yourself even if nobody is around to hear.
Freddie in the garden mouth agape, with arms open, grey beanie and shirt, checkered jeans and white sneakers. Courtesy the artist.

Francesco Ferranti: What’s Trans Joy to you?

Freddie Lewis: Trans Joy is defiantly tiny. What I mean by that is not that the size of the joy we feel is small, rather we are capable of so much that even tiny things can be euphoria. I’m sure every trans person will have within them a series of times that everything just felt right, this sort of existential peace. Where you just lie there and you’re like ‘yeah fuck me I’m so cool’. 

This can be different things for different people – for some trans people this looks like surgery or hormones but for some this looks like finding an outfit that just speaks to you and strutting down to the corner shop like a champion. 

For me it’s in the tiny nooks and crannies of every-day life. It’s so easy to miss it. Lying in bed with my partner with my shirt off and her head on my chest, sipping my first coffee of the morning alone in my kitchen and catching my reflection in the microwave, the phone calls, the bus rides, the little pauses are when I find trans joy in me and I feel gratitude for how far I’ve come, and excitement for how far I have yet to go.

Francesco Ferranti: Fancy giving a shoutout to humans who inspire you and uplift your spirit?

Freddie Lewis: Here are the Artists who inspire and uplift me: 

Oh boy. Okay first, my two best friends Jodie Mellor and Charlie T Smith. They’re not queer icons but they are wonderful allies to me. They’re very talented musicians and I’m so lucky that I get to be around them all the time and we all play songs to each other in Charlie’s room. It’s really lovely.

Okay now for queer legends. 

Arlo Parks I just think radiates so much kind energy. Her music is gorgeous and her little bits of poetry that she puts on her Instagram are divine. 

Jamie Windust is this really cool model and cultural commentator and they’ve just released a book called ‘In Their Shoes’ which I’m currently reading which is just great I’m thoroughly enjoying their fun little tales and insight into their experience.

Also I recently found this person on Instagram called Andrea Di Giovanni and omg they’re so cool. Their music is so fun, their fashion is so fun, they just radiate this confident queer energy and yeah every time I seen one of his posts she’s just GLOWING.

Francesco Ferranti: Tips for being an ally to our Trans siblings?

Freddie Lewis: The biggest one is just listen. Be willing to be wrong. Accept your own privilege and understand the depths of this. Even within the trans community we all have such different experiences and that’s part of why it’s so cool. Just be open. 

Introduce yourself with pronouns and put them in your bio and email footer too! This lets trans and queer people know that if they tell you their pronouns you won’t react weird and that you’re an ally. 

Francesco Ferranti: What are your hopes and dreams for 2021?

Freddie Lewis: Oh I have to finish my degree. I’m working on that. And then I would love to release some music. I will release music. I’ve got to finish my degree first but that will be done in like June. And then? Release some songs and some poems. That’s the dream. I want to show everyone all the stuff I’ve been writing.

That’s all from us folx! Now sit back, relax, grab a cup of your favourite herbal tea and listen to Freddie’s songs:

Make sure you follow and support Freddie on Instagram and Spotify 🙂

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