Kodi James is an up-and-coming LA-based queer pop artist whose music takes inspiration from classic icons of the ’70s & ’80s, with a modern and timeless flare. His first single, ‘Elizabeth Taylor’, visually and lyrically takes on gender norms as Kodi plays an androgynous Elizabeth supported by queer men of color. This is an effort to correct the white-washing of Hollywood while simultaneously showcasing Ms Taylor’s relationship and advocacy for the LGBTQ+ community. In every facet of his project, James prioritizes diversity and representation.
Music has always been at the center of Kodi’s life. He began singing in his father’s church at age 5 and went to college on a nearly full-ride scholarship for Musical Theatre. Once at university, Kodi quickly realized his passion for pop music and moved to LA to pursue his project in which he aspires to break through the industry and create music that caters to the queers, queens and everyone in between. Join us in conversation with Kodi James as we discover more about this rising artist.
What inspired you to create a video tribute to Elizabeth Taylor?
I was at a coffee shop on a Saturday morning about a year ago doing research on the AIDS epidemic because I felt, as a young gay man, I didn’t know enough about the history of our community. I stumbled upon a picture of Elizabeth Taylor with Nancy Pelosi before congress and the hook immediately popped into my head. I cursed aloud, packed my bags, ran home, pulled out my keyboard and wrote the song. I knew right away it was going to be my first single because of the potential visuals we could create and simply because Elizabeth embodies everything I want to represent as an artist.
Can you tell us your fav Elizabeth Taylor flick & why?
It’s so difficult to narrow it down to just one. As far as my favorite performance of hers, I’d have to say “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf?”. But if we’re talking about the most entertaining film, my guilty pleasure is “The Flintstones.” As far as I’m concerned, she stole that entire film and deserved a full-fledged spin-off film about her character as Wilma’s mother.
What motivates you as an artist?
I think what drives me the most is the fact that I didn’t have a single male pop artist in the industry I could relate to while growing up. And it would have meant so much to me as a closeted child, who thought he was hell-bound, to see a fabulous queer male artist in the media. There are so many incredible LGBTQ+ emerging artists right now and I want to help in being that representation for kids out there that need someone to identify with.
Who are some artists that you would like to collaborate with?
Lord have mercy! Dolly Parton, Cher, Gaga, Allie X, and Kim Petras to name a few. I actually have a single or two that I would love Miss Petras to put her Woo-Ah magic on if she happens to read this article.
In the video for ‘Elizabeth Taylor’ you challenge gender norms visually & lyrically. How important is it for you to provide queer representation that challenges the binary?
Challenging the binary and pissing some narrow-minded people off is my prerogative. We’re living in a very retroactive society right now and it is so important for the entire LGBTQ+ community to push back in every way possible. And as much of a conscious decision providing queer content is for me, being queer is who I am. If I wasn’t pursuing music, I’d still be strutting down the sidewalk in some heels with my hoops on.
What’s next for Kodi James?
I have a few more singles and videos that are in the works that’ll be coming out over the next year. But in the immediate future, I’ll be performing at the DTLA Proud festival in Pershing Square on 8/24 at 4:30 pm and will be debuting a lot of new music.
Check out the stunning video for ‘Elizabeth Taylor’ below:
Stay tuned with the adventures of Kodi James on Instagram.