April Kae is one half of IMANIGOLD, an indie rock band and art collective whose unique sound has become the “soundtrack to our generation’s fight for Black, queer liberation.”
Music & Activism: Get ready to immerse yourself in the vibrant universe of April Kae, a brilliantly talented artist who leaves audiences spellbound with her irresistible melodies and lyrics that ignite empowerment. With her awe-inspiring skills as a badass bassist, April Kae forges an extraordinary connection with her listeners, inviting them on an exhilarating musical odyssey that strikes a powerful chord within.
Beyond her musical talents, April is also an advocate for social justice and empowerment. Through her artistry, she strives to uplift marginalized voices and inspire positive change in the world. With a deep understanding of the transformative power of music, April seeks to create a space where listeners can find solace, strength, and a sense of belonging.
In an exclusive interview with Raw Femme, we explored Kae’s creative process, influences, and the messages she aims to convey through her music and activism.
Thank you for chatting with us, April! Please introduce yourself to our readers.
My name is April Kae, and I’m a touring and session bassist, singer, and activist. I play bass and sing backup in the band FEVER 333. I’m also a model and content creator.
What inspired you to establish The Imanigold Collective? Tell us about the platform.
That was a labor of love that my sister and I dreamed up. The goal is that we have a space of community and self-exploration, for anyone but especially individuals from traditionally marginalized groups, to come together and explore topics that are on all of our minds, like social justice. The collective also has a deep focus on self-actualization and self-care, as these concepts aren’t always promoted within marginalized communities, but we think that is a vital part of Queer, Black liberation. Our contributors write about everything from how to lead a creative life in a capitalist world, how to better communicate with your partner(s), and navigating this volatile political climate as an ally or as a person of color.
My sister Nikki and I have always been creating together. IMANIGOLD was an incredible project. We have an EP out on Spotify (and all other streaming platforms) that truly tells our story.
It was a great 10-year journey.
Currently we’re taking a break from this project.
What role do you see art and storytelling playing in advancing social justice causes and creating a more equitable society?
Thank you for asking that question, this is something I’m so passionate about. For me, artistic expression and activism have always been linked. If you’re paying attention to the world around you–and writing, talking, and thinking about it honestly–I don’t see how social justice or activism of some kind wouldn’t make its way into your art.
I used to organize benefit concerts when I was younger, and proceeds would go to whatever cause we were fighting for at the time. The reason art and storytelling, music and dance—any creative format really, are such important tools in social justice is because it can be a safe way to explore these topics–for both the artist and the audience.
After all, art can feel like a more approachable way of tackling uncomfy topics. But also I think people are just more receptive to hearing about social justice through art.
Sometimes we are too close to a topic, and to be able to pull back from it, and hear it in a more abstract way (like through music, or a play or movie) can feel eye-opening.
There are so many artists across mediums that come to mind whose art and storytelling helped illuminate social justice causes, like Basquiat, and Nina Simone, or more recently people like Childish Gambino. I also love this New York Times list of influential protest art if people are looking for more inspiration.
Can you share some of the successes or positive outcomes that your collective has achieved in terms of raising awareness, inspiring action, or driving meaningful change within communities?
One of the collective’s very first posts was a call to action to help raise funds for a Black, Queer, Femme punk band that had been attacked by a Skinhead in London in 2017. We also do a lot more internal activism, like reflections deconstructing “wokeness” and what it means in the popular consciousness vs. what it started as. Vs where we’d like to see the concept go. Also doing the work of unlearning white supremacist values and the ways they have embedded themselves into our culture.
We also did a huge article detailing access points for abortion and abortion resources when Roe v. Wade was overturned. It had maps and links and info on spotting fake clinics, and how to get help if you were in a trigger law state. Our activism is very community-centered, especially in this time where when unjust laws are passed, that directly do harm to marginalized citizens. We have to step up and help each other.
Congratulations to you and your sister Nikki on your newly released EP for your band IMANIGOLD! Can you discuss some specific songs or lyrics within the project that reflect the themes of Black and queer liberation? Who are some of your musical influences?
Thank you! It was such a cool experience and process writing and recording that EP. As far as influences go, we like to call our sound Americana for 2021’s America–it’s a bass-forward edgy, Indie, pop-rock stripped-down sound with some early-aughts-inspired experimental synth Influences include Odetta, Tegan and Sara, Fiona Apple, and SZA.
I’d say you hear it most in “Ride On” which is all about escaping small-town life in search of that liberation/freedom but finding a more rundown version of it than the romanticized version we keep in our dreams. You see that in lyrics like:
“Got me a nightclub job/Singing love songs to grifters and lost boys/And the few holy people in this seaside hell/All hang around the Greyhound stop/Tired and young, we ride on/Pack up our wild eyes/They’ll call us saints when we’re sinners/We ride on.”
That section in particular is all about misfits finding solace in each other and living life on the outskirts of society.
As outsiders, we have to own our constant search for belonging. It is through that search that we embody freedom. We have the freedom to own our individuality and live as we truly are. We must live our lives as liberation.
How do you approach the creative process when crafting music that speaks directly to the experiences and struggles of marginalized communities?
It’s funny—that question because it’s backed us into something I’ve been wrestling with. I don’t necessarily think we should approach writing about experiences of marginalized communities as people from those communities in a different way than we write about any other experience.
We write about what we know, as truthfully as possible, with as much dignity and creativity as we can muster.
Certain universals will resonate with everyone, topics like love, grief, growth, self-expression, the longing for connection and understanding, and things like that. But the elements we’ll speak to that are more specific to a marginalized community experience, like observing your neighborhood getting gentrified, or not fitting in because of your hair, or skin I don’t know that we should be writing about them differently.
The sense of otherness can feel universal even if the specifics aren’t.
But I have to remind myself even as I write about my black experience, it’s not necessarily going to be a universal experience. Ya know?
There’s pressure on Black artists or Queer artists to be “the voice” of their community but that’s such a trap.
We are all so individual and will have different lived experiences. That’s why representation in the arts matters, because for too long, we had one person who was the defacto person of that group and with their platform, it became a duty to be a good representative and voice for their group.
That’s not right, and not fair, that’s so much pressure.
What impact do you hope FEVER 333 will have on listeners, particularly those who are part of the Black and queer communities?
I cried my ass off through our entire second rehearsal.
To be clear: We were playing the songs. All of them. And I was ugly, full-body weeping the entire time (but also playing my bass parts pretty well if memory serves).
I think most people think I’m joking when I talk about crying and vomiting often—probably because I can (shocker) also do other things while weepy and nauseous.
I’m neurodivergent and for me that comes with strong physical symptoms, and though I can control these things, it’s extremely liberating and energizing to just be my actual self for once.
I hope that by showing up as our full, complicated, weird selves, it gives Black and queer listeners in particular, but all listeners, a little more courage to show up as their full selves, and not allow a narrow stereotype to define them. We are multifaceted.
How can people get involved?
As rights are continuing to get stripped from marginalized communities, grassroots organizing, community building, and resource sharing are going to be especially important. Contact your local LGBTQIA+ community centers, learn your rights, and share what you can in whatever way you can, be it information or creating a barter network like a lot of people on TikTok are doing.
What is your interpretation of a Raw Femme?
Raw Femme to me is an unfiltered, unadulterated, fully-authentic, expressive, messy feminine being.
Photos courtesy of Steven Verhaegen. All rights reserved.