In this Studio visit WMN meets with writer and musician Alex “Fairything” Masse (she/they). Their poem “Sensory Issues ” was featured in issue 3 Taking Space. Each studio visit highlights one of WMN contributors in the space where they make their art and poetry, as a way to get to know all of the amazing talent that contribute to the zines.
Tell us a bit about where you are based, and where you work.
I’m based in what’s colonially known as Surrey, BC. This places me on the lands of the Stó:lō, Semiahmoo, W̱SÁNEĆ, Kwantlen, Tsawwassen, Katzie, and Stz’uminus peoples (native-land.ca). Also, for international folks: I’m just outside what you know as Vancouver, Canada.
Much of my work is done in my bedroom, at my desk–unless I’m performing live, of course. Back in 2020, this was out of necessity. Now, I suppose it’s what I’m used to. I can get pretty much everything done from there, anyway: drafting, recording, writing, producing, editing… I’ve become pretty DIY.
Tell us a bit about your background and how and when you started your creative practice?
I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember, finishing my first novel at about 15. It wasn’t great, but I’d found a passion for words, so I just kept writing.
Around the same time, I picked up music through school, and greatly enjoyed that. It started as playing concert band flute, but soon expanded into singing, songwriting, and production.
I started taking things seriously in 2020. I was just completing my first paid, professional writing mentorship with a local theatre, and between the pandemic and some personal stuff, I was feeling a lot of strong, scary emotions–so, I told myself, “Let’s try this art thing.”
I signed up for more mentorships, released my first EP, and started writing a webnovel, all by August 2020. They were a bunch of chaotic, feelings-driven, “I need to start this now or I never will” projects, but they put me out there, opened some doors, and became the foundations of some pretty exciting connections.
When and how do you make your work?
That depends on the day! As someone in university, I’ve spent the past year and a bit alternating between courses, full-time work placements, and periods where I’m just gigging around. That said, I think I’ve found myself a rhythm, and much of it comes down to the concept of “daily minimums,” something a mentor told me about a couple of years back.
The way I see it, as long as I can get through a few hundred words or a good half an hour tweaking something, it’s a productive day. And of course, I squeeze these daily minimums into my schedule wherever I can–though admittedly, sometimes that’s rather late into the night.
Share a bit about a current project you are working on or something you just finished?
This summer, I released a collaborative LP, Outta the Woods! It’s a rerelease of some older work I did with a now-defunct theatre company, as well as some guest tracks from former coworkers, and some brand-new songs from yours truly! You can listen to it on your streaming platform of choice. You can also just find it by looking up “Fairything” on most platforms.
I’m also doing a lot of long-form writing these days–I have an #OwnVoices Young Adult novel I’m wrapping up about some solarpunk fantasy genderfuckery and defying fate. Also a webnovel called Freakspotters that I’m writing about a college supernatural club, girls kissing, the desperation to belong, and the pitfalls that come with that.
Does being a Lesbian/Dyke inform your work? If so, how?
Being a lesbian/dyke informs everything from my gender presentation to how I move through and interact with the world, so of course it’d inform my art.
I often find myself compelled to tell lesbian stories–a concept that contains multitudes. Sometimes it means writing about a baby dyke’s exploration with gender nonconformity, sometimes it means writing about my relationship to the word lesbian itself, and sometimes it means odes to lesbians of eras past, who often couldn’t be as open about their identities as I am today.
Being a lesbian means I seek out a lot of queer content, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that content in turn influences my own work. My art is the way it is because of other lesbian creatives across time & medium–it’s a lineage!
Based on your experience as a lesbian/dyke artist and writer, what advice do you have for other lesbian/dyke artists?
Lesbian stories deserve to be told, and lesbian art deserves to be made, and don’t let anyone tell you that yours doesn’t count or isn’t important. However “weird” or “niche” you’re worried you are, someone understands. Allow your identities to interact, intersect, and colour your work–tell the stories you wish your younger self had had, the stories you wish that younger self could’ve shown those around them, or the stories you hope your communities can find solace in. As storytellers, one of the best gifts we can give people is the ability to identify and resonate with new ideas, whether that’s new ways of approaching life, or fighting the system, or loving yourself.
Also, don’t forget to have fun; not every piece you make has to be a rallying cry. Lesbian stories that are sweet and silly and simple are revolutionary in themselves.
Alex Masse, AKA Fairything, is a writer, musician, and student (and possible changeling) from what is colonially known as Vancouver, BC. Their work has been seen everywhere from the Scholastic Writing Awards to Autostraddle, as well as in collaboration with Penelope Scott, Vancouver Pride, Simon Fraser University, and more. They’re also a neurodivergent nonbinary lesbian, which greatly affects their process.