Emo has historically not offered much in the way of perspectives beyond those of straight white dudes, often from Middle America. But New Zealand's Lontalius is shifting that, bringing a queerness to emo that's both fresh and exciting to those that don't identify with the legions of guys singing about their girl problems. Honesty is deeply rooted in emo, but Lontalius takes it to somewhere the genre hasn't really seen, even though, as he admits, he found his love of emotional music through the likes of Coldplay, Wilco, and The National. "The thing that's so attractive about emo, to me, is hearing someone pour their heart out into a song, then going to the show and yelling the lyrics with your friends," he tells us. "The communal experience is really powerful."
I grew up idolizing straight white men and mostly surrounded myself with them. I really regret that. Being super clear about my sexuality in my music gave me a chance to step away from that world.
Emotional music brings people who feel alone together, and Lontalius is making it easier for more people to feel included in the conversation. In his music, Lontalius is very open about his sexuality. "The first times I sang about boys felt really liberating," he explains. "I grew up idolizing straight white men and mostly surrounded myself with them. I really regret that. Being super clear about my sexuality in my music gave me a chance to step away from that world I’d put myself in. I can only hope that that honesty gets through to people. I was pretty into Baths when I was 15-16 years old and it meant everything to me when I realized he was singing about boys."
As for the diversity within emo these days, he reiterates that it's the best change possible, allowing more people to connect with it than ever before. "Representation is so important, if you’re into emo music but everyone you see making it is a straight white dude, what’s the point?"