By Daniel Borgen, PQ Monthly
So, it’s that time again. Portland’s Queer Music Festival, one giant collection of all the best Portland (and beyond) has to offer, is right around the corner (July 22, to be exact). Among the many artists festival-goers are clamoring to see — one of Portland’s most energetic and enterprising — is rapper, frequent guest star, regular collaborator with all sorts of folks, Jeau Breedlove. But, hell, don’t take our word for it.
Music Fest organizer Samuel Thomas said this about the notorious(ly named) Breedlove: “Hip hop is one of the hardest scenes for queer musicians to break into. Luckily, in Portland, we’ve had talented queer hip hop artists appear the last couple of years — and at the very top is Jeau Breedlove. Immediate, snarky, smart, and one incredible lyricist — I’ve watched him grow and mature in a way most rappers never do, and for that I’m supremely proud to showcase him this year.”
But, unlike most artists who arrive on scene, build hype, and keep going at breakneck speeds, Breedlove approached things a bit differently. He took a break — to regroup, refocus, and emerge revitalized.
“Basically, I sat out a number of shows offered to me because I wanted to focus a bit more on what sound I was really going for,” Breedlove explained. “I work with a really weird — well, eclectic — selection of music in my sets, so I stepped back to establish a theme of sorts.
“I have a number of original beats that have been gifted to me, but I also like working with more popular music — beats from the likes of Rihanna, Britney, and even Whitney,” he added. “Every show is a different crowd, so I try to give my best performance — things specifically chosen for those who show up to any given party. I want each show to be bigger and better than the last.”
After loads of Portland appearances — Pride, Peep Shows, queer dance parties, Breedlove was on the road to Seattle to showcase his sweet lyrics for homos in the Emerald City.
“Seattle Pride was fucking amazing,” he said. “I performed at the Wild Rose Block Party with Kitty Morena [ChiChi Pussyculo]. I definitely felt the love from the lovely ladies — and gentlemen — up north. The response they gave us was overwhelming, considering they pretty much had absolutely no idea who we were.”
WHAT’S IN A NAME?
Breedlove — that name still sends shivers down some people’s spines.
“The Adams/Beau Breedlove scandal was huge when I first started to book shows and I was fascinated by it,” he said. “The name Breedlove sticks in people’s minds and it definitely didn’t hurt that my name rhymes with Beau. I wanted something very Portland — and scandalous at the same time. I like the name, and I’m not really bothered if others don’t.”
But it’s clearly never just a name that captures and keeps people’s attention; it takes an amount of expertise and aptitude to endear oneself to a city the way Breedlove has. And, with talent comes collaboration. Breedlove has performed with a variety of local legends-in-the-making, including Magic Mouth and Carla Rossi (Anthony Hudson).
“I have and always will credit Peter Condra [Magic Mouth] for the performer I am today,” Breedlove said. “I was always active in high school theater and improve — it was then I realized I was pretty quick-witted. I thought my writing could extend to rapping, but it wasn’t until many years later that Peter introduced me to Chichi and Chonga. We clicked immediately, played a show with Magic Mouth, they all blew the fuck up, and it’s been kind of nonstop ever since.”
When pressed about what typically provides the impetus for, say, writing lyrics or arranging music, Breedlove relies on a familiar mix — the sort of process creatives know well.
“I write when I get dumped, have a brilliant idea, or if I just need a song to fill a time slot,” he said. “I write both sober and sloppy drunk — but I never perform a song unless I’m 100 percent behind it. I’d rather play a seven-minute banger set than overstay my welcome on stage.”
As for who and what he looks forward to, Breedlove puts Sistafist high on his wish list — and he cites Damon Boucher and Friscokidd as frequent partners in collaboration.
“Kitty Morena is easily my favorite person to perform with,” he said. “Her energy and professionalism is unreal. I also love working with Magic Mouth when they’ll have me.”
As for the immediate future, Breedlove has some big plans for the Queer Music Festival, and has a release on his radar.
“I’m compiling material for a mixtape that’s been in the works for some time now — no rush, though,” Breedlove said. “I’m not setting a date and rushing to put out a piece of shit. Shit’s gotta be legit. Until then, I’ll keep doing me and collecting that paper at the venue.”