I don’t know if rescue is the right word. A lot of activism and outreach I do is around helping people who are in these kinds of churches and being harmed.
You spent a lot of time away from your blood relatives after you were evicted from the church. What does family mean to you now?
I think that definition has changed and is still in flux. Family is people that get me. A closed unit of people who understand and know what I’m about. I have both biological and chosen family.
What made you decide to get clean?
I had a partial stroke in 2007. I basically overdosed and felt like I was gonna die. I’d periodically tried and had little success. When that happened, I’d lost everything. I’d been nominated for an award and wasn’t even able to attend the ceremony. I knew I’d reached the end of the line and I didn’t want to die.
Is that when you turned to music?
Actually, when I was little, I was raised in a fundamentalist Christian cult. Our church wasn’t even allowed to have instruments. But we did everything a cappella. I was trained to sing a cappella early on. Nothing secular. As I grew older this forbidden fruit of pop music was very desirable to me. I ran the risk of being in trouble for listening to it or having it taken away. It had a particular depth. Writing and making music felt like a homecoming of sorts. This thing that I’d never experienced in my childhood and was totally taboo. Even dancing was taboo.
Did you have mentors that guided you as you got into music?
No, I kinda had to do it all on my own. Once I got into public school in high school I fell in with some ravers early on and they took me to some warehouse parties.