Q&A: Kye Plant of Feelin Weird
Kye Plant is a musician, artist, and the host of Feelin Weird—a new mental health podcast that addresses taboo and stigma in a really awesome, open, and personal way. Kye and me chatted about tits, makeup, "the prison we call masculinity," and what it means to feel weird in your own body.
Kye was kind enough to share some very personal self portraits, and the stories behind them. That said, this post contains nudity, so if you're bothered by nudity, or are looking at this in a conservative workplace, consider this your requisite warning <3
GOONHOUSE: I love Feelin Weird soo much. Can you explain what it is for people who haven’t heard it yet?
KYE PLANT: Feelin Weird is a podcast that usually runs about an hour long and is posted every week. I have a conversation with someone I know (or don't know) and we talk about something they have felt ashamed of, or weird about, or anything they've kept hidden inside of themself. I do this in hopes that we can slowly break down stigma around things like mental health, trauma, sexuality, gender, etc. I plan on doing this for a long time because there is a neverending source of people and things to talk about. I spent most of my life closed up about all of my "weirdness" and it was kind of forced out of me at one point a couple years ago, so now I try to be as open as possible about the things I experience and deal with. Turns out I know some really cool people who want to talk about these things in front of a mic too...
GH: It's really wonderful, you're doing such great work. Can I ask about the theme song? You wrote that yourself, yeah?
KP: Yeah, I wrote and recorded the theme song in one take, in like 15 minutes before I posted the first episode. I honestly don't know if it's the worst or the best, or maybe it's just kinda blah haha—but it came out of me feeling really weird so it will have to stay.
GH: I dig it. It reminds me of Ariel Pink kinda?
KP: Oh, I'll take that!
GH: Your album is just killing it these days too. I feel like whatever the thing is that draws people to your music...it's drawing people to your podcast too.
KP: Hmmmmmmmm... I think you're right. I get a lot of strangers telling me nice things about my music and the podcast lately. It feels really strange, but also a bit nice. If only I could take a compliment...
GH: Does the energy come from the same place? Or does each of those projects draw on different parts of you?
KP: No, it definitely comes from the same place. If anything, my music and the podcast, and really anything I do now, is ALL me. It's genuine. I'm not putting on a show or curating myself, I'm just being very, very honest.
GH: That definitely comes through, and that's what attracts me to your work. I have a low tolerance for B.S. hahaha
Also I appreciate that your podcast doesn't have ads, but I want you to make money, so I almost WANT it to have ads, which is kinda sick. I just think what you're doing with Feelin Weird is so important—so I want to make sure you can keep doing it.
KP: Haha, this is something I have thought about... What if I get to the point where someone offers me money? I remember I wanted to say at the very beginning of the first episode "I'll never have ads on this podcast," but then I had a flashback to that song "Reinventing Axl Rose" by Against Me! and how they basically said something similar and then sold out years later. I don't know... Sure, it would be nice to be able to do this and music as a living, but also, I have no desire to make much money. I have a small gardening business that I run and it keeps me fed, and I'm very content with my life--even though, according to the government, I'm poor. But, that being said, if some really cool company that I believed in offered me money, I would maybe take it haha... It does cost money (and a lot of my energy) to make the podcast, so I'm not opposed to it. But also, I started it as a way of giving back, so, I really have no intention of making money. Can you tell I'm conflicted?
GH: I FEEL YOU! Art and commerce is so frustrating.
KP: YESSSSSSS ugh...
GH: But yes, pleeeease keep doing this podcast. Do you see it as activism?
KP: I do. And I will keep it up. I'm constantly discouraged and feel like it's pointless, but I haven't stopped yet. But, it is hard to keep going...
I can't say exactly why I think it's activism, but I honestly see it as a form of health care. It's teasing thoughts and feelings out of listeners so they're able to feel less alone. It's allowing the guest to share, in a cathartic manner, some intense things they've dealt with. It's a step towards acceptance of self and others.
GH: The medium is ideal. Podcasts are just so immediate and intimate: I feel like I'm present and in the room for your conversations. When I'm having a bummer day, i love taking a bath and listening to it. It's so comforting! I imagine for people with anxiety or depression it's even more so. Like on those days when you can't leave your house, you can at least listen and feel like other people get it.
KP: Hmmm, I hope so. Honestly, podcasts have saved my life. I have spent so many god damned hours listening to people talk about their feelings or issues or even just silly things, and it just makes me feel okay for a little bit. If Feelin Weird helps like that, then I'm on the right track. I just wanted to make a podcast that I would want to listen to.
GH: It's some next level healing shit, my friend
KP: That's really cool
GH: What were some of those other podcasts you listened to?
KP: Wrestling with Depression was a big one and was probably the reason I made Feelin Weird. I am in love with the host (not sexually, I mean, I just think he's the greatest), but also it's very MASCULINE, and I don't like that about it, so I kind of wanted to do something a bit similar but with a queer voice, where hetero cis-males were the minority.
KP: I've also listened to hundreds of WTF episodes because Marc Maron, though a lot of people find him frustrating, is painfully honest and the world needs more of that. I believe I could give a list of podcasts, but those were the big two that inspired me through some really dark times... Podcasts are amazing. Anyone can make one. There are no rules.
GH: Can we talk about masculinity? How do you feel about it?
KP: HAHAHA I refuse to talk about masculinity. Just kidding...
GH: Ahahaha it's so fucked. That's my opinion lol
KP: We could talk for years about this. I am living in a male body. I am perceived as male. I have been raised as male. I have been conditioned as male. Yet, inside, I do not feel male and it makes me, very, very sad to the point where I want to kill myself a lot of the time because it just feels so horrible, but I think that's where binary thinking really gets me. Male bodied people do not have to be male. My gender is fluid; my gender is not fixed. I am not one or the other, I am me and I wear what I want and I act how i want.
Masculinity is the most toxic thing I can think of. Maybe it's the way I've been raised and what I've witnessed but it literally makes me feel sick.
GH: i'm with you 100%.
KP: It's also weird to be attracted to "men" but also find them horrible for the most part. I've had some of the worst experiences of my life with men. I don't hate men at all, I just hate patriarchy and the bullshit heteronormativity pushes onto people from a young age. I'm visibly upset now... ha. I'm shaking.
GH: I'm sorry, Kye. i can only imagine what it's like. So many of my wonderful friends have been burned by such a stupid made-up concept. That masculinity should dictate how people behave and feel? That's so terrifying. I've seen how it fucks with people so hard.
KP: I don't think men are evil or masculinity is evil, I just think the way it is represented and glorified is really, really detrimental to humyn beings and society in general.
GH: Yes, for sure. i used to joke about how MEN ARE GARBAGE but i'm trying to stop that now. it's just not constructive. I mean it comes out of my frustration from trying to love so many damaged men, but it doesn't help the conversation. But UGH sometimes you just need to vent! Because fuuuuuuuu...
KP: Yeah, I'm with you. It's so confusing. I just try to remember that it's not the individual person's fault even, it's the way they've been conditioned. I was conditioned to act and behave a certain way. It's really, really sad. People need to just be whatever and however they want and need to be and not be restrained by self-enforcing gender stereotypes
KP: Have we talked about the prison we call 'masculinity' enough? haha
GH: If everyone could spend time doing that, just spent some time considering how much we're conditioned, we'd have a lot more woke men to choose from! And yes, no more haha!
KP: You know, that being said, I don't think it's just men who are responsible for that. It's everyone. Patriarchy is everywhere.
GH: Absolutely. I was FULL of internalized misogyngy for years. Like, only hung out with dudes cause I thought they were cooler than women; only looked up to dudes. So fucked.
KP: Whoa, yeah. That's real!
I've kept my sexual desires repressed deep down because of things womyn have said to me. I've kept my gender identity so far inside myself it was hard to even see at times because of womyn. It's not malicious, it's just part of our society
GH: We're all subconsciously acting the roles we're told to play.
KP: Or even me hating the fact that I speak and act in ways that might be perceived as girly... I used to feel sick about that when I would wake up the next day hungover because it was so wrong. That's misogyny. That's patriarchy.
GH: Ugh so awful. Ok question: why did you spell it womyn? I feel like i should know, but I don't. Please educate me.
KP: I am trying to take "men" out of words. I'm sick of the cis-male ruling the world AND the spelling of words. So I write Humyn and Womyn. That's just me...
GH: Ahh! makes so much sense. Yes I want to talk language!
KP: Let's talk language!
GH: Specifically pronouns. I feel like when we meet someone the questions should be, what's your name? and what's your preferred pronoun? Like that should just become the norm.
KP: I agree. That's something that I've had to alter in my brain.
GH: It's sooo hard. Like I was mentioning to you how I use the word dude all the time.
KP: To me, changing language is revolutionary.
GH: fuck yeah
KP: Yeah, same. I used to use dude and man all the time. I almost never say those words now because I find them destructive (to myself). Fuck, I wish you were here and we were recording this for a podcast episode haha
GH: hahahaha totally! We should when I'm in Victoria next. I might be coming out there this summer to see my friend who just had a baby.
But here's what I feel weird about... you know, I was going to say i don't have anything that i feel weird about because i'm a straight white cis women BUT! Then i remembered class—and how suddenly I have no money and I live in an expensive-as-fuck city and it's weird. So maybe we can talk about that!
KP: We can talk about ANYTHING. You live in a very expensive city. I don't know how you people do it...
GH: okok no talking about this! hahaha we gotta save it!
KP: haha okay
GH: But yes, getting back to dude and man: THANK YOU for bringing that up on your Facebook. It's hella brave. and now I know better.
KP: I always feel very strange sticking up for myself and saying when things hurt my feelings or bother me. I was basically taught to bury all of that as a young person, so it's something I've had to learn. But, yes, sometimes I say when words bother me. I still feel bad because I hate hurting people's feelings...
GH: Who are some people you look up to? Do you have any?
KP: People I look up to? Whoa... I honestly don't know. Maybe no one? That sounds weird... I used to worship alcoholic, self destructive assholes, but I'm really, really done with glorifying anyone now...
KP: I look up to anyone who is HONEST with themselves and others.
KP: But I can't think of anyone in particular.
GH: Cool. Yeah I'm kinda the same. Like there's things I like in everyone, so I try to emulate those things. But it's never one person.
KP: Yeah! A collage of sorts.
GH: Oh I really want to ask about your photography. I love your self portraits. It feels so important: like you're simultaneously trying to make sense of your body, and also put it out there for everyone to see. It's very vulnerable and badass.
KP: Whoa, that's really nice and interesting to hear. I'd never thought of it like that, but that's exactly what I'm doing. It's very scary and vulnerable to share those, but also WHAT DO I HAVE TO LOSE? I've been taught all my life that my body is shameful, so it's kind of me trying to reckon with that.
GH: As a woman i understand 100%.
KP: I can ONLY imagine
GH: hahaha good times for everyone
GH: But yes, we're such a visual culture. I think the more bodies we see the better. Especially when the person who owns the body is the one producing the images.
KP: It is interesting a lot of the times if I post a nude self portrait, I think people often believe I'm looking for attention or trying to show off... I'm really not. I'm just trying to understand why the fuck I have a body in the first place. That's a concept that keeps coming up in my podcast interviews: "why do I have a body????"
GH: Yes absolutely. I really liked the recent episode with the other Kye. haha Kai? Where you talked about body mods...
KP: Kai! You did? That's nice!
GH: Like how tattoos are ok, but getting tits is not.
KP: That was an interesting episode! Yeah... It's confusing. Things we accept and things we don't...
GH: It reminds me of the feminist artist Orlan. Her plastic surgery performances...
KP: Oh! I've never heard of this person! Cool!
GH: You would dig Orlan I think. Transformation is something I've always been interested in.
KP: I just googled Orlan and I'm obsessed already.
GH: That's what i love about fashion.
KP: mmmm yes!!!
GH: It's a cheap and accessible way to change your persona.
GH: Love your looks lately btw: so flowy! more flow. all of the flow
KP: haha thanks, Kate. I feel so much more comfortable these days. in what I wear and how I act and present myself. just so much more free
GH: You look it. More at ease!
KP: I don't have to hide behind the shroud of masculinity. I say shroud because it's so easy to lift but also so scary also
GH: Absolutely. Hey would you be comfortable lending me some self portraits for this interview? I'd love to post a bunch of them.
KP: HMMMM okay yes
KP: Are there any in particular you can think of or should I just choose a couple?
GH: You choose, I post!! Maybe you could do a little write up for each? Maybe a paragraph talking about how you felt in each one? Or what you're wearing/not wearing and how that made you feel then/how you feel looking at it now?
KP: Okay, i can do that
GH: Perfect, thank you! This was a great talk. Thanks so much, Kye!!! You the best.
KP: This was wonderful. Thanks for all your kind words and interesting conversations.
p.s. thanks for taking interest in what I do.