On the Pride Stage: Lucas Silveira, Soul Man
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On the Pride Stage: Lucas Silveira, Soul Man

The Cliks frontman on rediscovering the music of his childhood.

Photo by Skye Chevolleau/courtesy of the artist.

Lucas Silveira
North Stage (Church Street and Dundonald Street)
July 1, 7 p.m.

Cliks frontman Lucas Silveira has gone through a number of changes in the past couple of years. The most obvious one was physical. Silveira, who was born a woman but has been living as a man for most of a decade, started hormone therapy to appear more masculine starting in 2010. As it turns out, his physical transformation was accompanied by a change in musical direction. Silveira took some time to talk to Torontoist about changing his body while saving his voice. Read the edited and condensed interview after the jump.

What’s the difference between Lucas Silveira, Cliks frontman, and Lucas Silveira, guy with a guitar?

The difference is I’ve really grown as a human being in the last few years, for many reasons. Part of that growth was an artistic growth that was very, very different from anything I’d done with The Cliks. I started doing covers, first off, because I love doing covers, but also because I felt more comfortable singing in the new artistic place that I’m at… Me and my manager were talking about it: how can I introduce my fans to this new music that’s coming from me and sort of ease them in? I think doing a solo acoustic album kind of helped with that. I was doing my new stuff, which is, for lack of a better term, softer, as well as stuff like the Kanye West cover that had a little bit more soul in it, which is kind of the direction I’m going in, and I wanted to show people I could still sing.

Why do you think there was that sort of change to your artistic process?

I think it’s to do with a couple things. One is age; I’ve mellowed out a lot. The other is that I started doing hormone therapy with testosterone. It was the weirdest thing, man. I don’t know if it was that my voice changed so I was feeling more comfortable, or if it was actually a hormonal thing, because hormones do weird things to you, things you’re not expecting, but I started writing soul music. I always tell people hormones turn you into a black man.

I’ve always loved soul music. I grew up on The Jackson Five, Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye, all that stuff… but every time I tried to sing it before, it just didn’t feel genuine enough. I think it had to do with the separation between my voice and the music I was singing. It would make me angry, so I became dissociated with the music I loved, and started playing rock. When I think back about what I was doing, I think one of the reasons I went towards rock and roll was because it had such a masculine energy, or I felt, anyway. And I think it was to compensate for the fact that I couldn’t do the other stuff. The harder I got, the more masculine I felt. When I started testosterone, I felt masculine all the time, so I could move back to what felt familiar.

The Cliks are still a going concern then?

Definitely. People say “Oh, you guys broke up.” I’ve been the head of The Cliks since it started. At the beginning, it was three completely different members than it was on the second album. It’s always been my project backed by musicians. It just so happened that when we came into the spotlight, I had a particular set of band members who wound up leaving… That has not aided in the idea that the band is still together. I still see websites saying the band has broken up. That’s not true. I am the band.

So is the difference between The Cliks and Lucas Silveira that one’s a rock act and the other does more soul stuff?

Right now, I’m using my solo stuff to transition my fans into the fact that I am going to be doing a record [as The Cliks] that is going to be very different. It’s more of a transitional thing.

When you were doing hormone therapy, were you concerned about what would happen to you as a singer?

Oh God, yes. Dude, I didn’t do it for six years. I was out as a trans man for six years, and I didn’t do it, and that was why. I was told by everyone who had known anybody who had done “T,” which is what we call it, that they lost their voice. I was like ‘Fuck it, I’m not going to be able to do this.’ Then it just got to a point when the band split the last time, where I had to do it. I was so unhappy. Then I started to do more research… and I ended up finding guys on the internet who had figured it out and done it the right way. I just started to ask a million questions, like a little kid… And then I just went really, really slowly. You have to transition really, really slowly, and it’s a pain in the ass, it’s hard on your body and it doesn’t feel the best, but at the end of the day I kept my voice, and that’s what really matters to me… It was the scariest thing I’ve ever done.

I feel awkward with the phrase role model, but do you think you’re a role mode for trans people?

I didn’t want to believe that was true. I hate that word, “role model”—it means that I have to behave… People used to say that to me, and I didn’t believe it, but then I started to give myself a little bit of credit. It takes a lot of energy and power just to be yourself, regardless of if I’m trans or not trans. People are afraid of so much, and you have to be willing to give up that fear in order to be happy.

What’s your favourite part of playing Pride?

The people, man. People come up to me and say they make a point to see The Cliks every year. That’s awesome.