Successfully blending humility, queerness, and religion within a world obsessed with selfie-lighting and condemnation isn’t an easy feat, but transgender rapper KC Ortiz manages to do so effortlessly in her debut video for “Shut Up”, off her latest album Church Tapes.
Directed by Vincent Martell of VAM, KC starts her confession with an homage to Chicago nightlife, shouting out two industry friends well-respected in Boystown (Chicago's gay district). Drenched in imagery of preachers, wigs, and an abandoned church, KC demands respect and attention from those who have slept on her creative endeavors. Just as Jesus died on the cross and rose into heaven, KC channels life's negativity into fuel (her daily bread) which continually empowers her to keep creating. Try to put her in a box all you want - nothing will stop her on-going resurrection.
Growing up in a very Christian household myself (I'm agnostic, now), I caught up with KC to learn more of her relationship to religion, how she battles internal demons, and how to silence naysaying pagans.
- Some folks would say sex, profanity, and queerness have no place in religion. What do you say to them?
Why not… God says come as you are. One thing I have learned is to not judge anyone from the outside because we don't really know what their assignment is. If you look through the Bible, God uses so many people that society felt were out of line, controversial, or not the usual standard. In a lot of cases, God used the outcast so that alone tells there is no “rule book” on how he works. We are human beings, he doesn't expect us to be perfect. I once heard in a sermon, “God has moved on… we are practicing traditions that are thousands of years old.”
- I grew up hella Christian (my churches were praying in tongues, falling over by a wave of the pastor’s hand, etc.), but I lost faith in my teens. How do you maintain your faith considering our social/political climate?
I grew up in Church, we went almost every day/night. At the time it felt like a jail sentence, but honestly when I see people I grew up with or even people I meet now that didn't come up with that foundation… it really makes me grateful I had it. When I hit my teen years I stopped going to church. I got tired of being judged by church people. I got tired of feeling uncomfortable when certain things were being preached about. So I just said fuck it. But through it all, I always felt like someone was protecting me, like keeping me safe. I've been in so many scary or dangerous situations where I could have easily been hurt or killed and it was like someone always kept me unharmed. Even when I was super depressed and shit, it was always like, shit, feeling like someone whispering "it's gonna be ok". So I have come to the point I don't need anyone to approve or cosign my relationship with God. Everyone is different, everyone's mission is different. It's just this strong confidence inside of me that he sent me here to do this, so if people don't like it, oh well.
- In your lyrics, who are the voices in your head that you’re telling to shut up? What are they saying?
Just negative voices, Bishop Jakes says in one of his sermons “You didn't think you were stupid until they told you that you were…” those things people say about us throughout life sometimes stick in our minds. We have to learn how to mute those voices because they aren't true. Recently I was at my friend’s sister's house and I just observed how she tells her baby only good things like, “You are the smartest baby." When we hear stuff constantly throughout life you start to believe it. So why not replace those negative thoughts with positive ones.
- What’s your sign?
I'm a Capricorn.
- What is your favorite thing to do in Chicago?
Honestly just hanging out with my friends John, Tim, and Dustin. I noticed thru traveling I never go out when I'm out of town. I go out here just to be around my friends. I am more of a homebody I am starting to notice.
- What’s next from Ms. KC Ortiz?
I am trying to improve. I always want to get better, I don't ever want to plateau. I am in the process of putting together my next project. I have so many ideas trying to group them together. I swear my brain is always 12 million ideas rushing thru per minute.
Watch "SHUT UP" below.
STREAM CHURCH TAPES NOW
Director: Vincent Martell
Producer: Jordan Phelps
Director of Photography: Jon Wes
Wardrobe: Tiger Lily
Production Assistants: Patricia Frazier and Zoe Kosmopoulos
Editor: Vincent Martell