Country Queer

Lifting up LGBTQ+ voices in country and Americana.

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Q&A With Blake Rave

By Christopher Treacy & Blake Rave

Songs may strike us for any number of reasons, but the one that seems to have the most weight is our ability to identify with the feeling it conjures or scenario is describes… or both, one as the result of the other.

Being desired can be very flattering. People who want things from us often tell us what we want to hear, ingratiating themselves to us so we feel compelled to oblige them. It’s not that far to fall: suddenly, we’re locked into an unhealthy pattern of behavior with another person that provides simultaneous gratification and punishment. The undertow is persuasive and consuming.

“Albatross,” our new Song of the Week from the current CQ Roundup, is the latest single from Midwestern-based singer-songwriter Blake Rave. The track seems pretty light on the surface; a dreamy meditation on being “the other guy.” But Rave manages to effectively capture both sides of that coin—the addictive, dopamine-surging side whereby you feel lucky to have been chosen, and the second-fiddle side, where you realize your self esteem is suffering and the situation is eternally limited and frustrating. The song’s ethereal sound projects a suspension in time, like the story exists stuck between two realities.

In an LGBTQ+ world where open relationships are all the rage (and cheating is still ‘a thing’), not enough gets written about being that other person. Whether you were invited in or came riding through on a wrecking ball, it’s a confusing, often damaging emotional space. And highly relatable, but also something we don’t typically discuss with each other or hear articulated in songs quite this way. In this light, Rave’s song is brave.


A Honky-Tonk of Our Own

“Albatross” is the third release building up to a four-song EP, ‘You, Him & The Other Guy,’ which will be followed by a full length album that Rave recorded in London over the summer. We found the way in which he frames the struggle depicted in “Albatross” to be compelling enough to warrant additional questions, which he was kind enough to answer.

Take it away, Blake Rave!

I think I’m smart enough not to fall for any of that crap.” Unfortunately, intellect takes a back seat in situations like these. What I hear coming through is a sense of helplessness… a frustrating inability to take charge. Is that accurate?

There’s a bit of irony in it: “I think I’m smart enough…”  I was definitely feeling helpless as I wrote this. It was like an addiction, really. We can just as easily become addicted to a person as we can a substance. In regards to the situation: I couldn’t admit it at the time, but it was a willing helplessness.

He says I fill him up like nobody ever has.” While this is surely a complimentary sentiment, is he just saying what he needs to in order to get what he wants? Being manipulated is so damaging!

I’m kind of a walking contradiction: I see the good in people, yet I’m skeptical of the things they say… Especially when it comes to compliments. On the one hand, this guy is telling me that I’m everything to him. On the other hand, he’s giving me nothing. It’s very frustrating when words and actions don’t align. Whether it was true or just a ploy, it was very emotionally disturbing. In the end, I learned from my mistakes and now I’m stronger for it. And I have this beautiful song.

The references to being saved (‘again’ – is this a recurring pattern?), and being chased by the devil imply that on some level, you’re aware of the possibility of evil in this situation.

I have always been conflicted about religion, but I’ve never doubted God. I think there is a struggle between good and evil within all of us, but most people are benevolent. We never really know what is in someone else’s heart or what their underlying motivations or true intentions are.

The line, “Oh, Lord save my soul again,” refers to the Christian dogma that we are reborn and elevated to a higher state of being. Meanwhile, this person and situation left me feeling lower than I’ve ever felt.

But I still act like we stand a chance.” For some of us, it’s almost easier to function in these doomed scenarios. There’s a limit to where it can go, on one level, and on another, it presents this impossible challenge to chew on. 

Ignorance is bliss. It’s like a deer in headlights: You get drawn in, hypnotized, stuck. The truth of the matter is actually plain to see but when you are living in the situation, it’s not so obvious. You end up convincing yourself of unrealistic possibilities, all the while ignoring every bit of logic, every shred of wisdom, and every whisper of good conscience.

How does this fit into the context of the EP? From what I can tell, it explores the lack of balance in situations where someone is cheating.

You could look at the 4 songs on this EP as four separate chapters in my book of love and relationships. Chapter 1: “Daydream” – The story of seeing someone for the first time and the innocence of imagining a blossoming romance. Chapter 2: “White Knight” – A brand new relationship; wanting to go all in, but knowing it’s too soon. Chapter 3: “Albatross” – The forbidden romance and the internal struggle. Chapter 4: “Dear Trevor” – The break-up (aka poetic revenge).

The concept of the EP was a ‘lyrical coming out.’ I’ve been out for a long time and I’ve been writing even longer. All of my songs up to a certain point were very autonomous. I got to a point where I felt like if I didn’t break that, I was lying, or at least actively hiding part of myself. I want to be as authentic as possible, both as a human and a songwriter.  As bold and empowering as it sounds, this collection is me at my most vulnerable. This is me.

For the most part, these songs have never hit the stage. Some venues and crowds definitely feel more safe or welcoming than others, but as a touring musician, I tend to get some anxiety when it comes to playing in a new spot. I would find myself in the middle of nowhere at a roadhouse thinking, “Should I sing this song? Should I change the pronouns? How are they going to receive me?” It’s that fear that pushed me to release these songs. These songs deserve to live; they deserve to be heard.

Christopher Treacy has been writing about music and the music industry for 20 years. He’s contributed to The Boston Phoenix, The Boston Herald, Nashville Scene, and Berklee College of Music’s quarterly journal, as well as myriad LGBTQ+ outlets including the Edge Media Network, Between the Lines/Pride Source, Bay Windows and In Newsweekly. He is the Managing Editor of Country Queer and currently lives in Waitsfield, VT.