Mike Taveira has burst onto the music scene with his brand new single “Curious” and is part of an emerging part of pop artists who are letting their individuality be showcased in tandem with their musical prowess. An openly pansexual artist, Taveira has released the single “Curious” (along with the star studded video to accompany it) and it showcases provocative lyrics and multi-layered scenes that tell a story and give a new voice to a segment of fans who might have never had one like Taveira before. I caught up with Taveira to talk about crafting the “Curious” video, why being out as a pansexual artist is so important to him, and why he wants to be “part of how the world changes”.
Michael: Tell me about the music video for “Curious”. The story is brilliantly told and the imagery is gorgeous.
Mike Taveira: The song was actually the first song that I brought into the studio. I wanted to write it about my first queer experience. There was someone in high school, but societal structures pushed us away from doing anything until we were alone, that is what the song is really about, that one situation for me. I wanted the video to be about celebrating who I am. I wanted to showcase all real queer people, especially in spaces that we are all kind of shut out from. I wanted to be wrestling a non-binary person, and I wanted a trans woman to be playing a wife in a kitchen, I wanted a trans woman to be a cheerleader. I wanted them to all feel like “games” in a way, that feeling of whether or not someone likes you. I wanted to basically just showcase who I am through this video and to be celebrating it. I never had a male figure growing up that would vocally express these things to me, I never had someone that I would look up to like that. There were people like Channing Tatum or Zac Efron who were “bisexual”, but never really proven to be. Every time there were rumors I would get excited, because it would be like ”holy shit there is another guy that feels the way that I always felt”! It always turned out to be a rumor though, and they were actually straight. That is honestly why I got into music. I had all these stories and this music that I had written. I never had that guy or that person to look up to, so I am just going to be that person. It is something I really want, I want a younger person to look up to me. I want them be able to say “I can be who I am and not feel like there is no one like me”.
MC: How would you describe your style of music for a new listener?
MT: If I had to describe it right now, I would say pop leaning artist. I pair essential lyrics with contemporary R&B and future pop elements. I want to stay true to my queer roots and narrative. I don’t want to be unafraid to push the boundaries and I always want to capture something new with the music and visuals that is coming truthful to me.
MC: When did you realize that music was going to be the passion that you would be following?
MT: I have been acting since I was eight years old, and I started singing when I was seven, but more bedroom singing and annoying my family (laughs). I did a lot of musical theater growing up constantly, sometimes three shows a year. I really was into film and television always. The movie Signs actually made me want to get into acting, I used to pretend that aliens were abducting my house, I would create a whole movie in my house! I always wanted to get into acting and film and telelvion were always my passion, so I did that when I moved to the city at twenty. I never got anything huge with film and tv, I’ve booked some commercials and feature films, I just did not have that “push”. I started talking to a woman named Evangelia, who is now my best friend and like a sister. She also wanted to get into acting and I was studying with a coach at the time. She wanted to get into acting, and I had wanted to get into music. She was doing really well at the time, and we decided we would help each other and ended up having a mutual friendship of “support”! I have never had somebody else in my life where we push each other so much and support each other with every single thing. I showed her some songs that I wrote, and she got me into the studio. She also ended up being a writer on a lot of my songs also. She helped me get this way and the music just seemed so right. Growing up with auditions, if I just had to act it was okay. When I had to sing for them though, I would always book it; they always wanted me to sing, I always pushed it away and I don’t know why. Last year I was just like “fuck it” I’m going to “do music”. Here we are-I got on Billboard and it ’s crazy!
MC: What does it feel like to have been featured on Billboard and to see your music dreams slowly being realized
MT: It’s crazy because for so long I had been acting, but there are other routes. People always box you in, especially in the business; are you an actor, a singer, a dancer? You can be all, you can be everything. I think I just was not tapping into my other creative outlet. I had been paying my dues since I was eight, and nothing had come across. I finally tap into another area of my creative brain and this can actually help me. It’s cool to just tap into everything.
MC: The video for “Curious” is filled with tons of New York City and nightlife glitterati, including RuPaul’s Drag Race superstars Monet X Change and Sonique. What made you want to include so many gorgeous stars in the video as well?
MT: Well with Monet, I was working out and she and I are friends from Hardware Bar in New York City already. We were talking at the bar about her EP and I showed her my music and she loved it. She actually came up with her scenario in the video. I wanted to showcase real queer people and I wanted to put my friends in the video. I wanted to really show the real feelings of queer people. I am really against not casting queer actors and queer people in queer roles, since we are not given those straight opportunities ever. I always want to put in and showcase queer people in my work if its mean to have queer people in it. With Sonique I asked a friend if she knew anyone, because the video had to be filmed in LA. I flew out and flew Monet out, and had to get it all together. I reached out to a few friends and they recommended Sonique who was so kind, and we hung out after. It’s really cool that they even said yes and it worked out!
MC: What made you want to come out as pansexual and make it part of your story and the narrative that will be spoken about when people hear your music?
MT: I used to identify, maybe two to three years ago, as bisexual. Grown-up I would actually go back and forth between being straight or gay. People would always say I was confused, and they would say that bi guys are “just confused” and that they are gay and they just don’t know it yet. I would decide to say I would just “be gay” and then it would just go back to liking men, liking women, liking both. I always liked both sexes, it was just me deciding, because of how society would tell me that it was not possible for a guy. When I moved to New York City, I discovered that I could be whatever I felt that I was and did not have to hide what I was. I realized the definition of bisexual is not what I am. I am attracted to anybody, it does not have to deal with anything in general. So I stopped saying bisexual and started saying pansexual.
MC: It sounds like you really want be sure that younger people have someone to look at who identifies as pansexual and gives them the person that they may not have had…
MT: For a little while, I debated on discussing my sexuality because the opportunities can be not as available for queer people. I finally said “fuck it, that’s not why I’m doing this”. I’m doing this for younger kids who identify as pansexual or sexually fluid. I obviously don’t like having a label, but I feel without a label there is no identification of that. We are not there yet to not have a label for pansexuality or sexual fluidity yet, because there is no one talking about it yet. People will say it does not matter, but saying it did not matter did not help me as a child. It was the same as the Channing Tatum and the Zac Efron aspect. It doesn’t matter, but it does to me, because I did not have that actual person to look up to. I could have said nothing, but would not have made sense to who I am. It wanted to identify it and make it known. There are kids searching on Google trying to find people like them, and now- I am there.
MC: What has the reaction been like that you have received?
MT: It has actually been really incredible, and that has been really cool. I have even gotten a lot of people from my high school in Edison, New Jersey, and all of the parents and the students have been commenting and messaging on everything, so it’s been cool to see their reaction and they like it too. It was cool to see that it was accepted from everyone. It’s a conservative area, I mean even the person that “Curious” is actually about is not even out.
MC: There are a number of artists who are on the gender spectrum and are redefining both gender and popular music. Who is really charging you up creatively in terms of music?
MT: I have said it before, but Janelle Monae. There is just something about her, she just gets it. All of her albums are out of this world. Her whole narrative and story is something that I feel related to, especially on the sexual preferences level. Even the whole “dirty computer” thing, I was crying listening to that whole album. That is how I feel, people feel like something is broken about you, but there isn’t. That is the whole album, throughout Dirty Computer she is celebrating who she is. That album changed my life a lot. There are not many like Janelle. I can see some up and coming artists, I have seen a few, but I think it is going to happen more. I want it to be how the world changes, especially in this industry.
MC: How are you staying creative and inspired during this crazy time?
MT: For me, the first week was very hard. I had two really huge sessions set up in Los Angeles, and I was excited for them, but they got cancelled that week. Right now, people like Evangelia are really helping develop who I am musically. They are helping develop everything that I am going to do, and we have all been deciding what we are going to do next. We have been getting tracks from producers and I have been writing non stop, kind of acapella. That is also how I write music, I sing to my voice memos whenever I am!
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