Elias Krell

Elias Krell is a doctoral candidate in Performance Studies at Northwestern University. He received a Masters in Music and sang opera professionally for three years. His dissertation project, "Singing Strange: Transvocality in American Music Performance" explores the ways in which transgender and gender variant musicians in the Americas perform identities that move against normative or linear narratives through the voice in music performance.



"Singing the Contours of the City: Transvocality and Affect in Lucas Silveira's Toronto"

In this essay, “Singing the Contours of the City: Transvocality and Affect in Lucas Silveira’s Toronto,” I consider the affective and effective impressions of the city of Toronto upon the music and vocality of transgender Canadian rock musician Lucas Silveira. Taking Silveira’s cover of Justin Timberlake’s “Cry me a river,” as a case study, this essay contrasts local, independently produced album Snakehouse with Los Angeles-produced Timberlake. I conjoin transgender theory with performance theory to suggest that different modes of urban sound production queer gender norms at the site of the voice. I consider the link between femininity and the over-production of musical albums (Ian Condry, 2006), and argue that Silveira’s performance is distinct affectively in part because of the political economics of independent artistry in Toronto. I primarily analyze vocal sound, to counter a tendency in cultural studies of music to prioritize lyrics (Mark Butler, 2006).

My resources include both recordings and live performances. I enact a transdisciplinary praxis, drawing from the fields of feminist, critical race, transgender, music and performance theories, as well as from interviews conducted and performances witnessed during my ethnographic research in Toronto during 2011-2012. I engage Barthes’ concept of the grain, as well as Francesca Royster (2005) and Shana Goldin-Perschbacher (2008) in theorizing a concept of transgender vocality. Drawing from de Certeau’s (1984) concept of mapping the city, this essay traces Silveira’s vocality onto queer and transgender spaces and movement trajectories in Toronto. A performance lens allows me to conjoin theories of transgender voice with urban spaces in its attention to physical sites of performance and the material realities and situatedness of embodied subjectivity. (Johnson, 2008)

My Speakers Sessions

Saturday, March 24

11:15am EDT