Queer pop has been introduced to a new force to be reckoned with: Frankie Simone. Having just released her debut EP, Love//Warrior, she supports radical self-love and acceptance. Standing strong in herself, her art, and her convictions, her anthems are unapologetically LGBTQ-focused.
Having grown up in a household full of music and dance, it’s no surprise that singer/songwriter Simone chose this path. Shortly after meeting her wife, professional dancer and choreographer Che Che Luna, the Portlandians are taking their risky and risque collaboration to rise up in the scene and tour the country.
“As a queer person,” Simone explained, “the inequality and pain I experienced from others, plus the shared stories from LGBTQ community members of hate and injustice they faced, really struck a chord with me.” Using that passion as a catapult towards focused change, Simone set out to make the most impact she could by writing music from the heart and sharing it, regardless of repercussions.
“I needed to do something with this fire energy I was experiencing,” she said. Feeling called to do this for herself as much as her community, Simone began to write and record music with Graham Barton, a friend in Portland, and things began to take off quickly from there.
“It wasn’t our intention to create my debut EP,” she confessed. “But we were onto something, and I honestly discovered my life’s purpose through this work. In all of the music and art I create, I want to have zero inhibitions in being my most authentic self.”
While the project is named after her, Simone attributes much of her success to her wife and creative partner. Since 2014, Simone and Luna have co-created a bold and unique fusion of music and dance that is unlike any other collaboration in the pop world.
Acting as each other’s muses, Simone writes music and lyrics while Luna choreographs and dances to create a full piece of performance art.
“She inspires me so much,” Simone explained of Luna. “I wrote the song ‘Blow My Mind’ simply because she blows my mind! She is such a talented, strong, badass woman, and I’m so proud to be her partner. Che Che and I are so incredibly connected, so naturally every song on the EP has something to do with her.”
While this process of collaboration now comes so naturally for the duo, Simone explained that it took some time before they took the plunge into working together.
“We had always wanted to collaborate, but we were a bit worried.”
What if their creative visions clashed, or resentments and tension built within the relationship? Once they began, however, it was magic, and they can’t imagine going back.
“It took us two years to do anything really creative together,” Simone said, “but when we finally decided to go for it, we went for it, all the way. It ended up being life-changing in the most incredible way possible.”
While these imaginative flames continue to stoke the fire of creativity, critics can make or break that passion. Luckily for Simone and Luna, they have used even the harshest criticism from within their personal lives to turn it into something beautiful.
“A family member of ours told us to stop posting our ‘lesbian bullshit’ all over the internet,” explained Simone. “I looked at Che Che and said, ‘I’m gonna put that in a fucking song.’ That was a huge inspiration for ‘War Paint.’ [That song] is all about reclaiming those hurtful, hate-filled things people have said and transforming our pain into power.”
Apart from the inevitable criticism, Simone said that being an out, queer artist has mostly been a positive rather than negative experience for her career thus far. She and Luna even co-wrote a song entitled “Queer” to own that for themselves and the community they are a part of.
“I had been wanting to write a queer anthem, something that was bold and loud and really crystal clear in its message,” Simone said. “Che and I have an incredibly deep connection, and with that we get into deep discussions about our creative expression, so she fully channeled the first version of ‘queer’ and gifted it to me to take it and run with it. It was everything I had been wanting to scream out to the world. I immediately went into the studio and started to develop the song with my engineer, and what we came up with is the song you hear today. It’s an extra-special song that I feel not only reflects my passion for justice, but also my deep connection with my wife.”
Simone credits all the strong women in her life, including her mom, as the reason for her clear career path in music.
“I really do think being immersed in music that was primarily fronted by female divas early on planted a seed deep within me,” she explained. “These women were all so strong, so powerful, so commanding of space… they all had something important to say and people listened; I loved that.”
Though not immune to moments of doubt, Simone has built a foundation of belief in herself and those around her to continue down the path of musical and relational empowerment. Her hope is that fans can find solace, support, encouragement, and validation through her art. While she knows not everyone will understand or believe in her, she’s more than OK with carving out her own road, with her muse by her side.
“Of course, there will always be haters and people that are insecure of themselves,” she acknowledged. “Or those in so much pain that they don’t know what else to do but tear others down with hurtful words. To them, I send love, and hope they get the help, support, and the love they so badly need.”