Adrianne Gonzales’ dark hair, plentiful curves, and deep, dark, soulful eyes make her easy to spot one weekday morning sitting outside a Highland Park coffee shop in East Los Angeles. Curled up at her feet is her six-month-old labrador-beagle mix, Bowie, "As in David," she explains.
Adorned with tattoos, gauged ears, and a fierce sense of self, it's easy to forget that this is the same artist—performing as AG—whose aching, longing cover of The Beatles' "I Wanna Be Your Man" pulls at the heartstrings—and whose video for that track bends gender in a sultry, intriguing way. A free download of the track is available exclusively through The Advocate.
If these visuals challenge the typical perception of a lesbian singer-songwriter, then AG must be doing something right. While she identifies as a cisgender woman, AG is all about gender fluidity.
"I'm actually a very traditionally feminine woman,” says AG. "If I didn't have a career, I would love to be my wife's housewife. She's the boss."
That’s right, ladies—this sultry songstress is spoken for. She and her girlfriend—whom she intends to marry—have been together for more than two years, and are currently living the domestic dream in their Mount Washington, Calif., home with Bowie, the newest addition.
But AG acknowledges that what’s right for her may not be right for everyone—and that's why a primary tenant of her personal ideology is informed consent.
"If a woman chooses to be a housewife, then that's great—don't judge her,” says AG. "But as long as she knows that she chose it, and not that she had to do it because she was afraid."
Of course, it was a healthy dose of fear that got AG focused on vocal performance in the first place. When a young Adrianne decided to quit her elementary school choir, her choir director contacted AG's mother—"a very scary Latin woman," according to her daughter. The older Gonzales informed her daughter in no uncertain terms that she would be going back to music class, or face her mother's wrath.
"When you're a kid, you want to be normal," says AG, waxing nostalgic. "You don't want to stand out in any way. Even in high school, I didn't want to stand out either. As you get older, standing out is actually a good thing."
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On Being an Out Musician
Indeed, the 35-year-old songstress stands out in her solo work and as part of an ensemble when she performs with The Rescues—a four-person rock outfit where AG is the lone queer person. The Rescues—who have been described as an "indie supergroup"—play Hotel Cafe in Los Angeles on August 23 at 9 p.m.
Though she's the only person who isn't straight in her band, AG is quick to point out that her bandmates support her and that her label never asked her to hide her sexuality.
"I've always been an out musician," says AG. "But at the same time, I didn't want to alienate straight people... And with The Rescues, that was my opportunity to get in the mainstream and be out and show other gay musicians—and just people that were gay—that being gay isn't a big deal. You can be out and it doesn't have to define you—it's just part of who you are."
On The Beatles
AG’s haunting voice brings a new sensitivity and a distinctly queer tenderness to classic tracks from The Beatles. Her latest solo EP, The Beatles, hits stores on October 9, John Lennon's birthday, and features "inspired versions" of the six Beatles tracks that aren't owned by Sony Music. AG's record label, Universal Republic, happens to hold the copyright privileges to those five songs, including "I Wanna Be Your Man."
While she’s personally of the belief that Beatles' songs shouldn't be covered, AG has never been one to back down from a challenge. "I knew that [my producer and I] were either going to nail it, or we were going to fail miserably," said AG. "And I think that we nailed it."
The Beatles EP manages a tenuous balance between the heart-wrenching and the joyful. While the original version of "She Loves You" is poppy and hopeful, AG’s interpretation is moving, with tragic, heartbroken undertones that speak to the sense of loss and longing familiar to anyone who's lost someone they loved.
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By contrast, AG's version of "Saw Her Standing There" adopts a wistful tone, still earnest, but with a hopeful tempo that leaves the listener uplifted. While select tracks like this are sweetly romantic, AG is adamant that her music not seem timid or cutesy.
"I really loved covering The Beatles' songs, because they weren't precious—not at all," says AG. "It's hard being an introverted, introspective observer—which is what we are, as songwriters. It's hard not to be self-indulgent; it's hard to not be precious. And so The Beatles project helped me with that, too."
As an artist, AG says, she is of service to her listeners. And as far as she's concerned, her service—her form of personal activism—is to enlighten as many people as possible to the fluidity of gender expression. While she identifies as a "traditionally feminine" woman, a primary concern is that people of all genders feel free to express themselves authentically, without the imposition of societal standards and rigid gender norms. Authenticity is central to her art, and she believes that honesty can guide young musicians—gay, straight, queer, or otherwise—to reach their full potential. To those youth, AG offers a poignant piece of advice:
"Don't try and be the next anybody," she says. "Try and be the first you. However you define that—offering your honest, unique perspective is the greatest gift you can give to the world. And what a disservice it would be to... hide that behind what you think you should be doing or what other people have done before. It's a huge disservice to yourself, to your music, and to your audience."
For her part, AG's soulful honesty permeates her music, whether it be her solo tracks or her group performances with The Rescues. She has taken her own advice and lives fiercely and authentically. Meet AG, who wants to be your man, in the video below. Then click over to The Advocate for an exclusive free download of the track before the EP hits stores in October.