On March 6, local artist, community activist, and musician Saakred will release a new album, Make Believe.
For the 25-year-old performer, who recently came out as transgender, the new album is the culmination of three years of self-exploration and creative growth. Recorded this past January at Austin’s Ramble Creek recording studio, Make Believe is perhaps the singer’s most mature work to date. The music is experimental in nature, and can be described as somewhere between “post punk, psychedelia and blues.”
“I’m clearer about what I’m doing now, and the importance of what I’m doing,” Saakred said. Before, there was a lot of doubt.”
During a recent Friday night performance at Hi-Tones this February, a defiant and self-assured Saakred previewed plenty of material. Accompanied by Robert Gonzalez on drums and Andy Bernal on guitar, the chemistry between the three musicians feels just right.
“I think the important thing about this album is the emotional place that it comes from,” Saakred said. “It has everything to do with being queer and it has everything to do with being transgender.”
Saakred, who rejects any assigned gender, explains that transitioning to male is not the goal. “It’s just gender-neutral,” Saakred said. “It’s just me. I don’t fully identity with either. I never have.”
“I feel I identify with women only in a political sense because I’ve lived my life as a woman, and I know what that experience is like, and so, of course, I’m in solidarity with other women.”
But don’t call Saakred a lady. “I hate that!” the singer adds, suggesting we use only gender-neutral terms.
A change in appearance this year reflects the current period of rebirth for the artist.
“When I shaved my head completely it was symbolic for a relationship that ended, but also because I’m done with this part of my life and ready to really be who I want to be. It’s been hard the past year,” Saakred said. “It’s common for trans people to feel suicidal, to feel that there is no place for them in society. I definitely went through that and I think that was the symbolism of cutting my hair.”
In a mostly heterosexual, male-dominated local music scene, Saakred has gained a significant following. According to the singer, the most rewarding aspect of performing is hearing the feedback from audiences eager to see more diversity. While most female performers tend to be sexualized, and queer/ trans performers being mostly non-existent outside of gay bars, Saakred breaks the mold for what it means to be a performer in San Antonio. “I’m not out there in a dress and tight clothes,” Saakred said. “I’m the opposite.”
Moving along uncharted territory, Saakred challenges the status quo and breaks down barriers. “The only reason I decided to be public–it’s not just for me,” Saakred said. “I’m tired of being hidden and living this isolated life, but there are so many people like me that are scared to even exist, and that’s real.”
An album release party is set for March 6 at the Ten Eleven.