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This Queer Star Trek Band Boldly Goes Where No Band Has Gone Before

This Queer 'Star Trek' Band Boldly Goes Where No Band Has Gone Before

This Queer 'Star Trek' Band Boldly Goes Where No Band Has Gone Before

LGBTQ Trekkies Angeline and LeRock talk seeking out new sounds by mixing their identity with their love of Star Trek


Since bursting onto the airwaves in 1966, Star Trek has inspired a vibrant, creative fan community. From fan films to cosplay to Klingon heavy-metal bands, Trekkies often channel their fandom into art. Despite the franchise just recently adding explicitly LGBTQ main characters only two years ago in Star Trek: Discovery, the queer community has always built a home within the Trek community, dating back to the 1970s origin of homoerotic slash fan fiction between Kirk and Spock.

So it seems only a natural next step for there to be a queer-themed Star Trek band.

With songs like "Beam Me Up Hottie," "Down With Your Ship," and "Beyond the Sky," the band Holodeck Hearts (formed by Trekkies Angeline and LeRock) deftly mixes Trek’s optimism and themes with an inspired dose of queerness, comedy, and heart. PRIDE recently sat down with the band to discuss their newly-released debut album Engayge as well as how they began writing queer-themed Star Trek music and what has drawn the LGBTQ community to Star Trek in particular.

PRIDE: What brought you both together to make Star Trek music?

LeRock: We became housemates during the Bush era, so we watched a lot of Star Trek together at that time. I kind of wooed myself into their house situation. They had another roommate lined up but I came over and was like, "Let me help you with your garden." And at the time I identified as like a cute little dyke and was just very charming.

Angeline: It worked. You had this cute white t-shirt thing going on with the rolled up sleeves. We met doing radio, so that's what brought us together. We've always cared about music.

LeRock: Yeah, and then we just both wrote a couple little Star Trek songs. Angeline wrote "Janeway and Seven" and then I wrote "Engayge" and then we would play them tandemly.

Angeline: We each had our other bands, but we had this love for Trek and both had this independent courage to write a song. So when I wrote "Janeway and Seven" and he was like "I want to play on that," or I was like "You should play on it," and it sounded awesome, and we were like "Yes!" It was never in our mind that we could be a band.

LeRock:Yeah, I think we had an opportunity for a show and we were just like, "Oh, well why don't we just write a few more songs."

Angeline: We workshop songs, and it just was actually such a joyful experience and such a fun time that we both bring different things to the table.

What do each of you bring to the music creation process?

Angeline: He brings great knowledge of structure and knowing how to make a song longer than a minute [laughs]. I'll just write this explosion where I'm like, "Okay, I'm done emoting about this Star Trek thing." LeRock's like, "Okay, what if we add a bridge?" I'm like, "What's that? Let's add it," or "You know, add some more lyrics," and I'm like, "Yeah, sounds good." We write lyrics together and we dive into the feelings of the songs together. LeRock came up with "Beam Me Up Hottie," and we just went into this whole thing about the 12 steps of grieving and relationships, and it translates into this tender comical song, but there was a lot of "What if you were in love with someone and they were on your planet but they had to leave?" We just went through this whole emotional thing and...that really formed the lyrics.

LeRock: That song is also a lot about missed opportunities for love and how you wish you had more time with someone. But there's all these potential lovers or people who will care about you in the world and that you have only a specific amount of time that you can spend with people. Sometimes you have missed opportunities and what if we had time and space to play with and had several lifetimes to do that in.

Angeline: Yeah, or like you're on a ship and you just have to go to the next assignment. But we like blended those things of like it's part of their job to travel.

LeRock: Moving on but not necessarily moving on inside. And also themes of polyamory were a big aspect of writing it too. That it's possible to have many loves and lots of feelings and those are all okay and normal. One thing that Angeline's really good at in our band is that she has a knack for these really amazing pop hooks and her ability to write lyrics is something that I'm not especially that great at, because sometimes I get a little structured and it has to be a certain way. I feel like you have a good knack of figuring out good metaphors and making it really succinct. So I feel like just between those two things, we coop. We really just workshop all our songs together. We might have one riff that we bring in, and then Angeline's like, "Oh, let me play this riff with it, maybe that would sound good," and then we just kind of go from there.

Angeline: And thinking about Trek while we're doing it makes it so much more fun.

What drew you to Star Trek in particular?

Angeline:Star Trek always brings so much joy, and it was so natural. Just what it's meant for us over the years, just growing up with it and then being adults and still being able to go back to that feeling.

LeRock: Yeah, I grew up with it with my mom, watching Star Trek. I feel like something about our friendship too is that it's a very familial friendship. We have that shared community where we watch Star Trek with other friends that felt like family too. I feel like it's always been a really special connection as far as our relationship. I think the other aspect of our band that's really awesome is it's one of the bands where you feel like you don't have to be too cool, and it's allowed me to be more creative and feel just that I don't have to take it serious and in a way it's made it easier to create, because it's like the ego gets taken out of it. It's been a really good practice of letting go of the psychological concept of needing or feeling that things need to be perfect or that I need to do it so that other people will feel a certain way. It's more about our experience and our friendship.

Angeline: Right, and when you have a theme, it doesn't matter what genre of music you play, because we're like, "Maybe the next album will be a metal album, who knows. We can do what we want." We get to express these feelings about these stories, but the mechanism, we can choose whatever that is. For me, as a reader of fan fic, I love this idea that there can just be infinite stories.

"Infinite diversity in infinite combinations."

Angeline:Yeah. We get to express all of these feelings and, because it's fan fic it can be really angsty or it can be really comical. We can mix it up, do whatever we want, which is something that I really like about fan fic in general. I tend to like really angsty fan fic as long as there's a happy ending, and we tend to have some angsty songs without happy endings, which is not what I would like to read, but apparently it's what I like to write.

What do you think is created by combining the worlds of Star Trek, music, and queerness?

LeRock: I think for me, personally, growing up queer and as a trans person, Star Trek is one of the places where I didn't feel a lot of shame. I was in a really pretty conservative place when I was growing up. I felt like it was always a safe venue and that the way they handled a lot of topics...they didn't do a great job, to be fair, it's not a perfect venue in itself, but I always felt like they did an alright job.

They did better than most people were doing in the '60s and the '90s or the early 2000s.

Angeline: Yeah. So I felt like in that way it felt like they dealt with some themes of having no gender. Some queer relationships here and there. And it wasn't horrible. So it felt really comforting for me. It felt like a natural thing. Like let's actually go into the topic now, you know? Let's actually make it happen since they didn't feel comfortable doing it.

LeRock:Right. That's kind of what fan fic does. You want to see yourself a little bit more. And you get to when you write. We're like, "Okay, well, we'll just create all this queer content, Trek content," because it's something that feels good and we want that content to exist. And we want to explore this idea that there's this whole universe where there's people having these queer relationships that are there. But it's not being explored by other venues.

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Trek has always had a very strong queer community, going back all the way back to The Original Series, with Kirk/Spock fan fic. Why do you think the queer community is drawn to Star Trek?

LeRock:My experience as a Trek nerd and the experience of connecting with other people as this idea that it's a nerdy thing in some way. I feel like I've always felt more accepted in those spaces, just in general, because I feel like a lot of times people who are seen as nerdy are often not seen as cool. So often we end up being a lot less judgmental and a lot more open minded. I always feel a lot more comfortable in those spaces. I can't say why it's been that place, but as far as that community space, I always felt like it's a very open minded and nonjudgmental place to be, and I've always felt like I can be myself within it.

Angeline: [In Trek] there's always people struggling with their feelings and their identity. I just love the community that you can just all of a sudden experience this. I was at the airport and I have my Star Trek text tone set as the door chime, and I was at the airport with my partner, and we hear the chime, and I'm like, "Oh, I thought my phone was on vibrate," and then I was like, "It's on vibrate." And then I heard the chime again and then I look over and the person's like, "Hey." And then he came over and we just had this instant thing and my partner was like, "You know she's in a Star Trek band," and I had this moment where I was like, "Do I say it's a gay Star Trek band?" and then this person turned out to be queer, and he was visiting his partner, they were having a ski weekend. I just had this really sweet queer Trek airport experience because of my text message tone. I don't know, when you're part of this world, you get to have these extra sweet experiences to connect. Especially since these days, it feels like the world is just...feels hard and harsh. We've got to take that joy when you can. Having that text tone just brought me into that. Just have access to the Trek club.

LeRock: That's super sweet. You know it's interesting you mention like whether or not to out that it's a queer Star Trek band, because I run into that too. It's so interesting in parallel to a lot of the themes of being queer or being trans or being outed in the world. I feel like the fact that it's Star Trek makes me feel more comfortable saying it's a queer Star Trek fan fiction band. And it's helped me deal with some of my own internalized shame.

Angeline:I come out as my band.


Angeline: And our songs are a little boppy. They have sexual themes in them about romances, so it's like we're not just queer. We're also explicit in some regards. Talking to someone like, "Oh, just so you know..." but then, I feel like people have been really open to it, even though it's just a unique blend of love, romance, angst, comedy, sex.

Take me through your process of writing a song. You both live in different places now, does that affect how your songs are written?

Angeline:I think that all of our songs were written before we separated. I moved to Toronto for two years, and we were like, "Oh my God we have to record our album before I move away." And then I came back and we're like, "We have to release our album NOW." These songs are many years old. We have six or seven new songs ready for a new album, but we just wanted to get this thing, birth it somehow. So the long distance, it has been a challenge, but also the glory of this band is that it's a very loving place for us, but it's also a casual "Okay, we're not on this intense time table.” He's a father, we're a long distance band mate situation. So it's one of those things where we each have our things going on, but we have this love that we know it's always there.

So, on how we write songs, I think we each come up with these little sweet little things where we're like, "Okay, I want to write a song about..." I just wrote a little thing about someone starting to crush on someone, so they had this feeling of like, "What did Wesley do? Is there some nano things that he released and now I'm having these strange feelings?" I just wrote like 30 seconds of that and sent it to him. We'll just have these feelings of "Oh I want to write a song about Data." And I send it to LeRock and he has riffs that he sends to me. So we have these little seeds, and then we get together and it just all blossoms.

LeRock: It’s one way that we stay engaged in our friendship. We both have projects with friends to stay engaged over time. We're going to be lifelong friends, I know.

How do you create the sound of your music on your album?

LeRock: I think the lyrics do inform it. Like with "Baby I'm a Bottom," we wanted a do-wop sound for that. So we tried to get something, tried to form the sound to what the theme of the song is. But we also like having flexibility. We just did a set last night where it was all electric, just two guitars, no drums, no synth, nothing but just the two guitars. It was a nice way to reiterate the songs in a different light and that we have the flexibility for that and that people will be open to that. I feel like we have a very forgiving audience.

Angeline: The opening song has this very Trek feeling of the beginning of an episode or the beginning of the credits where there’s something that's building.

LeRock: Yeah, just an opportunity to do something different. And we're not super focused on maintaining it being a certain way, either. We're just in for the journey. Because we really like collaborating with people who are interested in the project and put their touch on it, and express them in it too.

Angeline: Yeah, and we just went for it. We wanted "Red Shirt" to just have those lonely space sounds, so we got real sounds from like recordings in space and we're just like, "Okay, this song needs to sound really lonely," and we found sounds for that. And LeRock's idea to have the original heartbeat sound before "Michael Sullivan," because "Michael Sullivan" is all about can you love a man with a heart made of light? With no blood, but there's a feeling there.

What is it like to play that live? How do you feel as you're performing?

Angeline:It feels amazing to talk about Trek on stage. Like last night, we had a slideshow with pictures of Picard and all these different things and that people get to engage with us about Trek. And also people get inspired to watch the show after we play live. Because, "I don't know what you're talking about but it felt so sweet and emotional and something I want to know about." So people are like, "I'm going to start watching now." It's fun.

LeRock:I like playing our shows live, just because what's missed from the album is a lot of our banter and how we like to engage the audience and we do different themes when we play live. So we might take people on a certain journey or act things out or just make it fun and interesting. 

Angeline: Yeah we have captain's log sometimes. We do some LARPing on stage. LeRock would have the communicator and be like "We're lost in space, Spock is acting weird," and we go into the song.

What's the response been to the album so far?

Angeline: People have been really positive. We have friends that love Trek and they just feel like, "Thank God there's this gay Trek content!" And we have friends that don't like Trek at all but they just love the songs.

LeRock: We get a lot of laughs, lots of laughing.

Angeline: Yeah, we get a lot of laughs.

This interview has been edited and condensed. Holodeck Hearts' debut album, Engayge, is available on Spotify, iTunes, Bandcamp and numerous other music platforms. Jessie Earl is the host of PRIDE's Nerd Out, a video producer for Microsoft Unboxed, and has her own transgender and geek-focused YouTube channel.

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Jessie Earl

When not discussing Star Trek or Wonder Woman, Jessie makes videos and writes about transgender topics and pop culture.

When not discussing Star Trek or Wonder Woman, Jessie makes videos and writes about transgender topics and pop culture.