“I was a tomboy growing up, and that’s starting to become cool again, but when I was growing up, it wasn’t,” says queer alt-hip hop artist Lex Leosis, laughing. “I mean, I’m 6’2’’, so it was always hard to find clothes that fit anyway, but I’ve started focusing on how I feel in clothes and not what they look like,” she adds. Although we’re currently discussing fashion, her commentary seems particularly allegorical, both in relation to the music world and society in general.
“I was in this group, The Sorority, with my best friend, Keysha Freshh, and her confidence and her style make me look at my own style. I mean, style can make or break your mood… I like what Teyana Taylor does with fashion. I really love this sexy tomboy look. It’s like this tomboy androgynous thing, but then it can also be super girly… I realized recently that clothing shouldn’t be gendered and once you break that, everything’s an option.”
As a queer white female hailing from Toronto (who now spends much of her time in the Bay Area), Lex Leosis does tend to stand out in the hip hop world. But during our recent phone chat, she tells me that she’s very aware of that and that she’s also very honored and proud to be able to play a role in that musical community: “The one thing I would tell people is I’m very conscious of the space I take up in the hip hop community… This is something I’m so passionate about, to get up for every day and against all obstacles, something you love to do. And I’ve been at it for 11 years now and to grow and contribute to hip hop every day is just the greatest feeling.”
Earlier this month Lex Leosis released her six-song Terracotta EP. The EP was born and bred in the pandemic, after releasing Mythologies in March of 2020 and realizing that she wouldn’t get to go out and play and promote the release as she had been anxiously hoping and planning. Much of the mood of Terracotta is inspired by the combination of Lex trying to transform her bedroom studio into a long-term sanctuary and fantasies of what the summer of 2021 might have to hold, when she was finally allowed to get out again. She tells me that her latest sounds feel new, musically, but that she also feels a little new in general: “I think Terracotta is particularly different because of that time being alone for a year and a half – which can be unusual for musicians — and that self-growth that was forced on us. For the first time, I feel very sure of myself and confident and able to create a happier version of my sound. With the songs on my last EP, those were a little darker, but this is a fully-healed version of myself.”
The pandemic also saw Lex Leosis becoming a star of Tiktok, something she admits she didn’t see coming: “Tiktok’s been really cool for me. I got into that during the pandemic. I thought that was really for kids, and I’m in my late 20s, but it’s not like that at all.” She tells me that the format actually leant itself reasonably well to the kind of performing that she wished to be doing on stages: “The algorithm is so perfect for verses, and I was already writing verses every day – I’ve always been really good about that – and since I wasn’t doing live shows, it was a really great way to put myself out there for people every day.” She also tells me that her online presence has been working as a great way for her fans to get to know and understand her as a person: “I will always progress. I always work to grow. And you’ll see my growth and progression on things like my Tiktok and Instagram stories, not just my music.”
During our chat, Lex Leosis tells me that, in addition to her daily musical updates on Tiktok, she has more official drops coming soon: “I’m starting a new project now. The EP’s out and now I’m starting a new album.” However, she does have some live dates finally coming up. Lex Leosis will be opening for Snotty Nose Rez Kids on a number of dates in late October and early November, which she tells me is definitely her favorite thing about being a musician: “Touring has been incredible, to be in front of people who actually love your music is just one of the best feelings in the world, that community presence you get at a show.”