DEMARO is an emerging, openly gay dancehall artist who’s ready to risk the adversity associated with the Caribbean attitudes on homosexuality in pursuit of his music career. Jamaica, a country so beautiful, is still plagued by its negative stance of the LGBTQ community. For DEMARO, that meant moving to New York would be his escape for hope, survival, and sharing his music freely.
Since moving to New York, DEMARO has performed alongside Island Records signee Kidd Kenn at his official NYC showcase, and he’s gearing up for a stream of performances and the roll out of his first EP in the spring.
DEMARO’s sound is primarily dancehall based with influential styles of afro beats, soca, and hip hop combined. His first single “Mi Readi” is breaking barriers and moving traditional dancehall music in a more progressive direction. “Mi Readi” gives off good vibes, a tempting flow to dance to, and lyrics to encourage an open mind.
Ahead of his video release, The Press got an exclusive interview with DEMARO highlighting how he plans to change the generally homophobic stereotypes prevalent in dancehall music.
What would you say are your strongest truths? What frustrates you the most? What changes would you like to see in the world now?
My strongest truth would be walking in my light as a gay man. I had to have the courage to leave my birth country to be the man I am today and fight for my dreams. It frustrates me that we’re headed into 2020 and there’s still so much intolerance of LGBTQ people in Jamaica. I would like to see a better platform for LGBTQ artists and I can’t lie and say I’m not happy about the President and this impeachment. There’s a lack of unity and love and I think we need to go back and revise how we relate and treat each other.
What excites you most and what are you most proud of?
I would have to say my growth. Going through such bad times and having hopes and wishes, and working towards where I am now – it’s a pretty exciting time in my life right now.
What is the funniest thing that’s happened to you lately?
The usual New York day-to-day. Like running for the bus and not making it!
Describe how you felt when you first heard dancehall music?
I was like, this is a vibe ya’ know?! It’s something I can rock with. Dancehall is a lifestyle for me.
How has moving to New York helped your career? Do you have any favorite places to perform? Any interesting stories to share?
Moving to New York has definitely helped with networking. I’ve met so many producers from going to music events. I’ve been exploring different genres of music and New York is a melting pot for that. Oh my God! My favorite performance and place to perform so far has been MOBImic. It’s one of the few showcases in the city I know of that provides a platform for queer artists of color to perform. They have it every month at The Delancey and it’s always a vibe! An interesting story to share? There was a gay dancehall artist from Jamaica who decided to take over the world!
When did you know you were gay and how did you come out to your family + friends?
I’ve known I was gay since I was a kid, but living in Jamaica I had to keep it on the “DL” until moving here. I just recently came out to my mom and a couple close family members like a year or so ago. At first it was a bit hard, but after living here and walking in my truth now it made things a lot easier.
As a dancehall artist and member of the LGBTQ community, how are you using your platform to reposition the often violent, homophobic lyrics often heard in dancehall music?
I’m going to tell my story from my perspective as a gay man. Love has to be involved in it. At the end of the day, I think everyone is entitled to their opinion of whatever their sexual preference is, but I’m going to show my fellow Caribbean immigrants that we’re here, we’re queer, and they’re just going to have to start changing some of those lyrics! It’s not necessary. You can have a good time without singing about killing or bashing somewhere. That’s so old, too! I think it’s time these dancehall artists get more creative.
What do you hope listeners take away from your music?
I want listeners to learn more about me and my story; how I kept going and how they can too. I’m doing me and living my truth and I hope everyone can relate to that.
The LGBTQ has made huge progress in acceptance but it’s still rare for black male artists to come out as gay. We’ve seen artists like Frank Ocean, Tyler the Creator and most recently, Lil Nas X speak openly about their sexuality. Do you feel more support or more pressure in conversations surrounding sexuality?
I don’t feel pressure now, but back then I was because there weren’t that many people that were openly gay in the industry. I would hear a lot of “you can’t be gay,” but now we have our own platforms to express our point of view.
How do you want to be remembered?
A person who stood up for himself and spoke his truth. Someone who was open with himself and shared his gift with the world.