What is furry music? Q&A with Pepper Coyote and ABSRDST
by Patch O'Furr
Part 1 of this series of short Q&A’s asked: what defines “furry music”? Furry dance parties are one of the strongest real life furry movements besides conventions. In a growing fandom, con stages now use millions in equipment and are the crossroads for congoers. Sound is half of the performances and videos furries love. But music isn’t exactly made by animals, it isn’t visual, and it’s an ineffable experience to even write about. “Furry” isn’t really a music genre, but it matters enough to fandom that it’s worth treating it like one for a deeper look. Start with a loose working definition: It overlaps with fandom, it’s made with furries, or it shares a general theme. Then comes the fun part of asking musicians about it. (See part 1 for the full list):
- Are you a furry musician?
- What is furry music?
- Can you share a cool fact or story about your music?
Pepper Coyote: Solo musician and collaborator since 2010 with bands like Look Left and Foxes and Peppers.
Hi. I’m Pepper Coyote, and I am a furry musician. To me, music in the furry fandom is just music that happens to be done by furries. That might seem obvious, but I have never seen any kind of gate keeping in the fandom based on what one’s music is about. I see music in this community as yet another example of how we are a fandom that cannot be bought and sold, and one that is not based on any corporate entity. It is our own.
The most helpful information I ever learned as a musician, was that you don’t need anyone’s permission to create. You don’t need a label’s approval to put out a CD, and you don’t need a company’s permission to start selling or shipping said CD. There’s never been a better time to be a musician. Your audience might be out there waiting for you, even if you don’t know who they are yet.
(Edit:) Cool fact about my music: This song was written about a book, Save the Day, by D.J. Fahl. It’s a super hero story done with animal people and I couldn’t help myself. It was hugely inspiring and lead to one of my more complicated arrangements. I’m proud of this one.
ABSRDST: “Gay duck who sings and produces”, indie pop with 100,000 monthly listens on Spotify.
- Are you a furry musician? Feathers aren’t fur! J/K LOL, but I think one could assume that I chose a theme of gay ducks in order to court a furry audience, when that really comes from my love of cartoons and desire for gay representation in animation. I’ve had the characters for a while, and they’ve always been more the main characters of a story that I want to tell, more than a “sona” or something that represents myself. It’s really no surprise that music about anthro duck boyfriends grew in popularity within the fandom, so yes, I would say that I’ve become a furry musician by association, but only in the same sense that Starfox is furry. It wasn’t necessarily made by or for the fandom (my artists aren’t furries themselves other than Seth), but it’s been folded in to the fabric because it’s compatible with a set of aesthetic values.
I’ve been very surprised to find how many non-fandom and non-queer folks are in love with the gay ducks and the music. I think there’s something about birds that crosses over for your average person. For me the boundary between what is “furry” and what is “cartoon” is very interesting… and I think to your average person the ducks somehow feel closer to “cartoon” so there’s a greater desire for it. I mean, my mother wears the gay duck shirt and she’s about as far from a furry as you could possibly get.
- What is furry music? I don’t know, honestly. I think there are people who make music that are in the fandom but don’t brand their music towards the fandom, and there are people like me who didn’t really spend a lot of time in furry spaces but make art that’s highly compatible with the movement and community. A lot of it used to be Weird Al / Lonely Island style parodies of normal pop music featuring fursuiters, but now you see a lot of people on Bandcamp using their fursonas to brand their tunes of all styles from punk to noise to EDM, and commissioning furry artists for album covers. I think the fandom has gotten both more serious and sillier since the days of “All The Single Furries” so that’s good I guess, and I think that fandoms outside of furry have become more and more like furry fandom, with lots of people in every profession using cartoon avatars and alter-egos to brand their content.
I’d like to see more furry musicians using their art to tell stories about love between bros, though. I don’t think enough queer art focuses on love… a lot of it focuses on identity and rebellion and self expression, which is fine, but I find that the furry community is one of the few that really focuses on the love aspect of the queer experience and identity. So I guess less porn and more love stories. Not that I have any problem with the porn, I just like really wholesome gay love content sometimes too.
- Can you share a cool fact or story about your music? I found out kind of recently that I have a fan who works on a show about ducks that will not be named, owned by a very powerful Mouse who will not be named, and he wears my gay duck shirt to work semi-frequently, so that’s kind of neat. I would love to eventually have a cartoon series of my own so it’s cool that I have cartoon industry people listening.
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A very good article. I’ve only been a Furry about five years now, but I’ve gravitated heavily to Foxes and Peppers music so much, its in my everyday playlist that includes non-furry artists and groups like Leon Bridges, Death Cab For Cutie and The Jayhawks. Furry Music will continue to fill my playlist, including NIIC The Singing Dog and others. I love the attitude Pepper Coyote mentioned, it’s independent and not corporate driven, its furry driven.
Excellent piece, and great choice of interviewees!