N0t Listed is a band made up of three friends from different ethnic backgrounds (Josh is Mexican American, Kayvon is Iranian American, and Leo is African American) who met in NYC’s underground queer circuit. They recently released the music video for “Close My Eyes,” the second single from their new EP, Bop Shop. The video was directed by Mike Ruiz of RuPaul’s Drag Race. The guys recently discussed their careers and music via an exclusive interview.
Meagan Meehan (MM): When did you each first realize that you wanted to be singers?
Kayvon: All three of us have been musical since childhood. Leo started singing in church and Josh began pursuing a music career in his early teens. He doesn’t know this, but I found Josh’s first music video when he was like 15. (Laughing) I’ll save that for another day! I began playing piano at 3 and started pursuing a music career through queer nightlife. I think, for all of us, moving to New York City made us feel we had a chance to make our passion for music into something legit. Knowing we could collaborate with like minds is really what has given us the environment to be able to let our musical endeavors grow. We all have such a strong love for nightlife because dance music brings people together.
MM: How did you go about establishing a band and where did the name come from?
Josh: Kayvon had this idea about creating a queer band with members representing different minority groups and all being queer. It only took 14 years later for the right people to come along to make it happen! The name comes from filling out forms and not knowing what box to check off. I’m gay and Mexican American, Leo is African American and bi, and Kayvon is Iranian, nonbinary and pansexual. We’re literally N0t Listed.
MM: What typically comes to you first, the lyrics of a song or it’s melody?
Leo: We’ve written songs different ways. Josh produces all the music so if Kayvon or I have a melody or song, we get together with him to bring the song to life. Usually when Josh has a track, he will have a chorus or a verse and we’ll write the song together. We have written most of our own vocal parts for the songs on Bop Shop.
MM: How did you get Mike Ruiz in on the music video and what was it like to film?
Kayvon: Mike Ruiz and I worked on many projects in videos over the past 14 years. The first time we worked together was for the feature film, Starbooty, starring RuPaul. From there a creative relationship transpired, leading to Mike creative directing and directing the videos for N0t Listed.
MM: Did the Covid lockdown give you more time to write music?
Leo: The lockdown definitely was a setback, but we have 15 tracks under our belt thanks to Ms. Rona. I think we all had this creative energy and nowhere to go and express ourselves so we put that into the music.
MM: How did you break into the music industry and what has been the best thing about working in the music industry so far?
Josh: I’m not even sure what the music industry is anymore! For us, we feel we are more in the queer community than the “music industry.” There are no politics and strategies. We are just expressing ourselves with our community and hoping to build a platform to share with more people.
MM: What projects are coming up for you soon? Is there anything else that you would like to discuss?
Kayvon: Our Bop Shop EP is out now. We are excited to announce that the legendary Jonathan Peters is remixing “Close My Eyes”. We are booking more shows and have our first Pride performance for Jersey City Pride on the 21st. We plan to do another video with Mike and are trying to do more collabs and remixes as well as Pride/Club bookings to get the band out there!
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Follow them on on Instagram @n0tlisted