Pronouns in popular music, especially love songs, have long been skewed towards heteronormative relationships — in the last few years, though, more and more queer artists have begun to use pronouns to reflect same-sex attraction. But up-and-coming artist Miki Ratsula wants you to know that there’s still a significant part of the gender equation missing.
It’s that ethos that fuels the singer’s upcoming EP Made For Them, a new project where Ratsula takes some of their favorite songs by artists like Harry Styles, Phoebe Bridgers, Dodie and more, and reimagines them with completely gender-neutral pronouns and references. Ratsula, who identifies as nonbinary, says they wanted to create space for other gender nonconforming folks to feel seen in popular songs, so they took matters into their own hands.
The new project comes just off the heels of Ratsula’s debut LP I Owe It To Myself, a lo-fi, indie-pop exploration of healing and self-love, that saw songs like “Sugarcane” and “Suffocate” bringing the singer to a whole new audience, ready to take in their message.
To celebrate the impending release of Made For Them, Ratsula took Billboard‘s LGBTQuestionnaire — a series of questions, fill-in-the-blanks, multiple choice answers and so forth — to help fans get to know them just a little bit better.
Multiple Choice (select your answer with italics):
I look at my phone:
RarelyOccasionally Constantly I’m looking at it right now
How important is social media to your music career?
Not remotely importantI do it but I don’t love it Important, but I have mixed feelings about it Essential and I mostly love it
Would you rather be:
At homeOn the town In nature Asleep
Rate how strongly you agree/disagree with the following statements (select your answer with italics):
Using inclusive pronouns in songwriting is imperative.
No wayI guess Who can tell? Yeah, probably Absolutely 100%
LGBTQ representation is improving in the music industry.
No wayI guess Who can tell? Yeah, probably Absolutely 100%
Coming out was easy.
Hell no.It was complicated It wasn’t terrible Thankfully, yes.
Fill in the blank:
MUNA and Girl in Red are both LGBTQ artists whose music really inspires me.
The last thing I purchased online was a couple pairs of pants from Urban Outfitters.
One word to describe my music is intimate.
Open answer questions:
Your new project takes other artist’s songs and reimagines them with gender-neutral pronouns — how did you go about picking which songs you would cover?
I picked songs that I am personally a fan of and have shaped me in some way. I also had to make sure that in whatever songs I chose, the switching of the pronouns to “they/them” had a significant enough impact on the meaning of the song.
“She” by Dodie was the immediate first song I thought of when starting this project. It’s kind of the back bone to the entire EP. When I still identified as a gay woman, that song meant so much to me as it was one of the first ever WLW songs I’d ever heard. It changed me. The songwriting is magical and it inspired me to write about the girl I love like that. When I came out as nonbinary, I felt disconnected from that song — which was disheartening since it had such a huge impact on my queer journey.
As nonbinary artists are slowly becoming more visible in the music industry, what lesson in inclusivity do you hope labels start incorporating?
I encourage people in the music industry to do the work to deconstruct their idea of the gender binary. There is such a beautiful and rich history behind gender nonconforming, nonbinary, and two spirit identities that goes way long before the construct of gender appeared. It’s one thing to address everyone with proper pronouns, but I can tell very easily if someone still sees me as a cis woman, and its extremely disheartening. It’s crucial that people practice removing themselves from the center of issues that they have no need to be the center of.
I want people to use my correct pronouns because they see me as the identity I say I am and they respect me. There’s a difference when someone only uses my correct pronouns because they don’t want me to be upset with them. It’s selfish and it takes work to unlearn it. That thought process adds to the burdening feeling I know a lot of trans and nonbinary people feel. We deserve more effort from everyone in the music industry.
You recently shared your debut LP I Owe It To Myself — after 6 years professionally releasing music, what made you finally ready to release a full-length album?
I finally knew who Miki Ratsula was as a person and an artist. I have never before had such a clear view of the artist I am, the music I make, and the message I want to share. I also went through a lot of heavy stuff in the years leading up to the album release so by writing the album I allowed myself to process and grieve. Creating this album gave me such a safe space to navigate all of the feelings I had while also exploring the music production I finally know defines Miki Ratsula’s sound. I quite literally owe this album to myself.
You’re trapped on a desert island — what three albums do you bring with you?
Ryan Beatty, Dreaming of David
The Paper Kites, Twelvefour
Phoebe Bridgers, Punisher
Name a Twitter/Instagram/TikTok account you’re obsessed with.
@dylanmulvaney on TikTok! I’m obsessed with her days of being a girl series.
What’s your astrological sign? Do you care about astrology?
I’m a Cancer sun, Scorpio rising, and Virgo moon. I love astrology, I think it’s so fun and fascinating.
What’s something that you’ve always wanted to learn how to do, but still haven’t gotten around to?
I’ve been wanting to learn Swedish! I’m a 100% Finnish and am fluent in Finnish, but haven’t yet gotten around to learning Swedish. Swedish is Finland’s other national language and a lot of my family speaks it as well, so it would be cool to be able to communicate with them in both languages. It’s also a lot easier of a language to learn than Finnish. Also a lot of my favorite musicians are Swedish so it would come in handy.
What accomplishment in your career are you proudest of?
Putting out my debut album. Like I said, I went through a lot of heavy things before making the album. I’m so proud of the project I was able to create with everything I felt and learned during that time. I also made it a goal to produce it entirely on my own, which I did. I learned so much about my sound and production during the process and it strengthened my songwriting as well. I think that’s also why I’m so proud of it. It feels like the best representation of who I am and what I’m willing to bring to the table. It’s also not only helped me heal but I know it’s helped a lot of other queer and trans kids heal as well, which is an accomplishment in itself.
Tell us two truths and a lie about yourself, but don’t tell us which is the lie.
I can only wink with the left side of my face. I physically can’t wink with my right eye.
I have a BA in Psychology and planned to be a therapist.
I have a tattoo of Sully from Monsters, Inc. on my back.