Pronouns in popular music, especially love songs, have long been skewed towards heteronormative relationships – in recent years, however, more and more queer artists have begun to use pronouns to reflect attraction towards the same sex. But artist in the making Miki Ratsula wants you to know that an important part of the gender equation is still missing.
It’s this philosophy that fuels the singer’s next EP. made for them, a new project where Ratsula takes some of their favorite songs from artists like Harry Styles, Phoebe Bridgers, Dodie and more, and reinvents them with completely neutral pronouns and references. Ratsula, who identifies as non-binary, says they wanted to create space for other gender non-conforming people to feel seen in popular songs, so they took matters into their own hands.
The new project comes right after Ratsula’s debut album I owe it to myself, a lo-fi, indie-pop exploration of healing and self-love, which saw songs like “Sugarcane” and “Suffocate” bring the singer to a whole new audience, ready to embrace their message.
To celebrate the imminent release of made for them, Ratsula took Billboard‘s LGBTQuestionnaire – a series of questions, blank answers, multiple-choice answers, and more. – to help fans get to know them better.
Multiple choice (select your answer in italics):
I look at my phone:
RarelyOccasionally Permanently I’m watching it right now
How important is social media to your musical career?
Not remotely importanti do it but i don’t like it Important, but I have mixed feelings about it Essential and I especially like it
You prefer to be:
At homeOn the city In nature Sleeping
Rate the extent to which you agree/disagree with the following statements (select your answer in italics):
Using inclusive pronouns in songwriting is imperative.
Certainly notI suppose Who can say? Yeah, probably Absolutely 100%
LGBTQ representation is improving in the music industry.
Certainly notI suppose Who can say? Yeah, probably Absolutely 100%
Getting out was easy.
Surely not.It was complicated It wasn’t awful Fortunately, yes.
Fill in the gaps:
MUNA and the girl in red are both LGBTQ artists whose music really inspires me.
The last thing I bought online was a few pairs of pants from Urban Outfitters.
One word to describe my music is respondent.
Your new project takes other artists’ songs and reinvents them with neutral pronouns. How did you go about choosing the songs to cover?
I chose songs that I’m personally a fan of and that have shaped me in a certain way. I also had to make sure that in all the songs I chose, the change from pronouns to “they” had a significant enough impact on the meaning of the song.
“She” by Dodie was the first song I thought of when starting this project. It’s sort of the backbone of the whole EP. When I still identified as a gay woman, this song meant so much to me because it was one of the first WLW songs I ever heard. It changed me. The songwriting is magical and it inspired me to write about the girl I love like that. When I came out non-binary, I felt disconnected from this song – which was disheartening because it had such a huge impact on my queer journey.
As non-binary artists slowly become more visible in the music industry, what lesson in inclusivity do you hope labels start embedding?
I encourage people in the music industry to do the work to deconstruct their idea of gender binary. There is such a beautiful and rich history behind gender non-conforming, non-binary, and two-spirit identities that goes back long before gender constructs arose. It’s one thing to address everyone with proper pronouns, but I can tell very easily if someone still sees me as a cis woman, and that’s extremely disheartening. It is crucial that people practice withdrawing from the center of issues that they do not need to be the center of.
I want people to use my correct pronouns because they see me as the identity I say I am and they respect me. There’s a difference when someone only uses my correct pronouns because they don’t want me to be mad at them. It’s selfish and it takes work to unlearn it. This thought process adds to the feeling of being weighed down that many trans and non-binary people experience. We deserve more effort from everyone in the music industry.
You recently shared your first LP I I owe it to myself — after 6 years of professional music production, what finally prepared you to release a full album?
I finally knew who Mike Ratsula was as a person and an artist. I have never had such a clear vision of the artist I am, the music I make and the message I want to share. I also went through a lot of heavy stuff in the years leading up to the release of the album, so while writing the album, I allowed myself to process and cry. Creating this album gave me such a safe space to navigate all the feelings I had while exploring the musical production that I finally know how to define. Mike Ratsulait is the sound. I literally owe myself this album.
You are trapped on a desert island, what three albums do you bring with you?
ryan beattyDreaming of David
paper kites, Jwelcomefour
Phoebe Bridger, Punisher
Name a Twitter/Instagram/TikTok account you’re obsessed with.
@dylanmulvaney on TikTok! I’m obsessed with her days of being a girl series.
What is your astrological sign ? Are you interested in astrology?
I am a Cancer Sun, Scorpio Ascendant and Virgo Moon. I love astrology, I think it’s so fun and fascinating.
What have you always wanted to learn to do, but still haven’t been able to do?
I wanted to learn Swedish! I’m 100% Finnish and I speak Finnish fluently, but I haven’t learned Swedish yet. Swedish is Finland’s other national language and a lot of my family members speak it too, so it would be cool to be able to communicate with them in both languages. It is also a much easier language to learn than Finnish. Also, a lot of my favorite musicians are Swedish, so that would be helpful.
What accomplishment in your career are you most proud of?
Release of my first album. Like I said, I went through a lot of heavy stuff before making the album. I’m so proud of the project I was able to create with everything I felt and learned during this time. I also set myself the goal of producing it entirely by myself, which I did. I learned so much about my sound and production in the process and it strengthened my songwriting as well. I think that’s also why I’m so proud of it. It feels like the best representation of who I am and what I’m ready to bring to the table. It has not only helped me heal, but I know it has helped many other queer and trans children heal as well, which is an accomplishment in itself.
Tell us two truths and a lie about yourself, but don’t tell us which one is the lie.
I can only wink with the left side of my face. I physically can’t blink my right eye.
I have a bachelor’s degree in psychology and was planning to be a therapist.
I have a tattoo of Sully from Monsters Inc. on my back.