The first interview for our Quirky Queers blog on Beyond the Two was held with Jo Neugebauer.
"It’s about cats and sad stuff"
Sitting across the table from me in a meeting room just like every other, is talented singer songwriter Jo Neugebauer. Jo is relaxed, clearly spoken and very passionate about music.
Jo is relatively new to Melbourne, having grown up in Tasmania. Jo identifies as non-binary and pansexual, meaning they’re attracted to people of all genders.
Jo’s preferred pronouns are ‘they, them and theirs’, “I don’t feel super feminine or hyper masculine. I can represent myself a lot better, being non-binary or fluid. Myself and the term of gender changes rapidly.” For Jo, gender identity can change rapidly and recommends asking people what their preferred pronouns are.
"It's all about having conversations"
Jo’s experience, like most people who identify as non-binary identity, can be difficult for those around them and not accustomed to pronouns outside of the binary system. Educating people is and not getting angry is key to changing the public’s use of language, it’s “all about having conversations. If you get angry, people won’t listen.”
While it doesn’t bother them if well-meaning people make a pronoun slip, “when it comes to family, it hits harder. You’re trying to say this is who I am. It doesn’t mean you’ve done anything wrong. It’s about how people feel about themselves. My father is stuck in his ways with grammar and doesn’t really accept the pronouns. It’s a massive kick in the gut.”
Still being new to Melbourne’s queer community, Jo is pleased with the fact that there a lot of organisations around, including a space for them in the music scene.
When I ask Jo how they’d describe their music, their response; “it’s about cats and sad stuff”.
"Music is a way to get the chaos out of my head, into something useful"
Jo’s music is raw and emotional. “A little bit of fun but will have you feeling something.”
While at 28, the stage would be frightening to me, for Jo - “it’s liberating. I love being on stage! I’ve been performing since I was 6. I feel comfortable up there, in my own world. Having people listen is great, but I’m in my own world and can tune into that world for 15-45 minutes”.
“Music is a way to get the chaos out of my head, into something useful. I am an emotional person and have mental health issues, and music is a great outlet but also means I’m not alone in it too.”
Jo has performed with local musicians including Mount Defiance and Wil Wagner of The Smith Street Band. With their success only growing, I asked Jo what advice they’d give to their young self.
“You are as weird as everyone tells you. But that’s not a bad thing. Embrace it. You can be whoever and whatever you want to be. You will be stronger, as soon as you accept it and realise it’ll be okay.”
And their advice to budding musicians…
“Keep writing. Don’t put yourself down. You may have issues with self-confidence but keep putting yourself out there. Write, try, people will notice and want to listen to you. People will care that you’re out there doing something for the community.”
Finally I asked Jo what they like about Beyond the Two.
“I like that they’re interesting designs that get the queer slogans out in the world, in a non-tacky way. They’re not just done in Microsoft Paint! But these designs have love and care going into them. You can tell it’s a passion.”
You can check out Jo’s facebook page here.
Beyond the Two's 'Quirky Queer' Blog will feature queer people doing amazing things in the community – contact us if you or someone you know should be featured in our blog.
Yours in glitter - Alice