Friday, 18 December 2020

Interview with Cynthia Luna Frost


Monika: Today I would like to share with you the story of Cynthia Luna Frost, a young Swedish vocalist, poet, and alternative model. Cynthia is the founder and vocalist of the band called Snow I.U. and the founder of the Snowfest festival. Hello Cynthia!
Cynthia: Hello! Thank you for having me!
Monika: You are a woman of many talents. Do you feel more like a band vocalist or poet?
Cynthia: I see myself as a source of inspiration. Be that by being an entertainer with my musical works, an eloquent writer with my lyrical and story-driven poetical narratives, or as a gracious alternative model in front of the lens of a camera. I seek to inspire and empower people, to show the world that being different and unique is something that we all should strive for. I want people to be the best version of themselves.
Monika: Your band Snow I.U. was founded in 2008 but the first demo Tales from Utopia was recorded in 2015, with the single Glacial Fortress published in the same year, followed by Lost in the Forest (EP) in 2018. Could you say a few words about the origin of the band and your music inspirations?
Cynthia: The band was initially formed in the winter of 2008 when, after finding my passion for singing and performing, I told myself that I would make music a part of my professional life. The first lineup was put together during the winter of 2008 but due to me not giving up until I reached my goals, as it was, and still is, my main passion - I parted ways with the other members.

Alternative modeling photo session.
(Photo credit: Helena Mattsson - Häxans Foton)

The band was initially called something else entirely but that name has since been lost to the sands of time, and quite frankly I doubt it would be something that sounded vaguely professional considering it came from the mind of a 12-year old. The inspirations that first drove me to form the band were the bands I listened to and followed during my childhood, as well as the bands I discovered myself by doing research online.
I mainly formed the band out of my fascination with 80's British heavy metal. Bands such as Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, and Angel Witch were a big inspiration to me back then. Nowadays my passion lies more towards the symphonic metal genre with bands such as Wildpath, Nightwish and Mechanical Poet filling my ears with magical tones and my soul with delight.
Monika: Are you working on any new projects now?
Cynthia: I am! Seeing as the global pandemic more or less put my musical career somewhat on ice (at least with my band, Snow I.U.) - I have looked into other potential avenues for creating music. Besides this, I have had several photoshoots of varying themes this year, and I am looking forward to doing more of those in the near future.
Some other things I have worked with lately are: My official modeling calendar, which is one way for me to say "thank you" for the support I get on a daily basis from my Cynners ((I use the term "Cynners" to describe my fans as I see everyone as part of a larger close-knit community, and fans just sound very generic and dull).
I have also started creating jewelry, mainly in the form of my logo, but I am looking into creating other pieces as well as modifications to already existing pieces of clothing that I own to make those more personalized.
Monika: Did the transition change your artistic perception of the world? What does it mean to be a transgender artist?
Cynthia: Seeing as I am still very early in the process of transitioning due to horrendously long queue times I wouldn't say so at this time, no. What I will say, however, is that coming out as transgender in 2019 opened up my eyes to the world and it enables me to pursue my passions more than ever before. This is mainly due to me finally being confident enough to take the steps required to do so, no longer having to hide behind a false persona and just be an actor on a stage, performing a role based on a script.
Monika: Contemporary music has produced a new wave of transgender female artists, just to name a few of them: Mina Caputo of Life of Agony, Laura Jane Grace of Against Me!, Marissa Martinez of Cretin, Amber Taylor of The Sexual Side Effects, Namoli Brennet, Sissy Début, and Jennifer Leitham, and many others. Are we facing the creation of a new music trend in this respect?
Cynthia: I personally would not say that we are facing a new trend, per say. If being transgender becomes a trend, it will, just as any other trend, eventually die down and become a curiosity. Instead, I see the transgender persons who are finally getting some major attention in the musical world as torchbearers for other transgender persons who may think that the fact that they are transgender is some form of a hindrance for them to live a happy and successful life in the public eye.

"I usually keep it (hair) simple and work with what I have."
(Photo credit: Helena Mattsson - Häxans Foton)

The people you have mentioned, and I hope to one day count myself among them, on the same level - Have opened the door slightly and allowed the general public to see that we are no different than anyone else. We can shine just as bright as any other star in a field we chose to pursue and if anyone should think otherwise, it just shows their lack of understanding of what being transgender actually is.
I will also say that I sincerely do not hope that people will coin a new term just to put us transgender artists in our own little "folder" so to speak. I already despise the fact that we see a divide in music and that we have people separating men and women in music into "female-fronted" while the men just fall into "-insert musical genre here-". Just keep it at genres, that will help people find what they are looking for, keep gender out of the equation.
Monika: What do you think about the present situation of transgender women in Swedish society?
Cynthia: I am glad if I can keep track of the present situation for myself honestly, but from what information I have gathered the situation varies from person to person. As I mentioned with my own transitioning - I have been in the queue to even start any form of treatment for over a year now, counting the total length, I would clock in at around 16 months total, and from what I have gathered, it could potentially be another 4 before I get to see any progress due to the healthcare system not having enough trained personnel. With the current state of the world and all, the queue times have gone up too.
I have heard from a reliable source that one of the longest queue times in Sweden just to go to your initial meeting with someone is around 30-40 months. This is unacceptable and it was because of such ridiculous statements and ques that I decided to change clinics to one that is further away from my hometown but has a queuing time that was then, half of what the projected one was closer to me.
My theory is that it's because of the queues that many transgender persons in Sweden start some form of treatment by themselves out of necessity since they cannot wait for on average, 20-30 months to start any form of treatment just because there simply because of lack of personnel from the clinics' side.
Monika: We all pay the highest price for the fulfillment of our dreams to be ourselves. As a result, we lose our families, friends, jobs, and social positions. Did you pay such a high price as well? What was the hardest thing about your coming out?
Cynthia: I did not. I am one of those "lucky" people who, despite all my fears and the demons which I had built up in my mind before coming out have not had to pay any "price" whatsoever for it. Being a public personality and known as a musician prior to coming out, my biggest fear was the loss of family and coming out reducing me and my past achievements in my career. None of that happened and it was quite the opposite - Everyone embraced it from the get-go and I got messages, comments, and people from all over the place telling me how my coming-out video inspired them. It was, to say the least, an overwhelmingly positive experience.

"The hardest thing for me was the 'coming out'
part." (Photo credit: Post-mortem.se)

The hardest thing for me personally was, however, to take the plunge so to speak. After 11 years of brainwashing from an ex-partner, healthcare not taking my cries for help when I was in my pre-teens seriously, and all the stigma and stories of negligence from families and friends of other persons within the LGBT+ community when they came out making my creative brain go crazy with creating demons and "what if scenarios''. So in short, the hardest thing for me was the "coming out" part.
Monika: How did your family feel about your transition? Were they surprised?
Cynthia: As stated above, they embraced it but were surprised at first. My parents told me they had a "hunch" since I had acted very differently prior to telling them, slowly breaking down the walls that I had built over the many years of me creating this image, this character which I portrayed previously.
Monika: We are said to be prisoners of passing or non-passing syndrome. Although cosmetic surgeries help to overcome it, we will always be judged accordingly. How can we cope with this?
Cynthia: Yes, e are, indeed. I am no different in that regard. Personally, I believe that the whole "passing" vs "not passing" shouldn't even be a thing in a perfect society. In my eyes, every single person is unique and therefore everyone should "pass" no matter what as there shouldn't really be any "folders" to put anyone into so to speak. The norms that society has built are at fault in my opinion as without them, everyone would be playing on an equal field, so to speak and everyone would be forced to realize that no two persons are the same and therefore one cannot be told that they don't fit in. Any person or group who breaks these norms will always be judged by those who stay within the confines of said norms, but we are seeing these boundaries break down and the general understanding of everyone's equal rights to a happy life being more prevalent in society.
The way to cope with it all as it is today though is to find role models to look up to - See these "heroes" as I call them and be inspired. Without people to inspire me, I would most likely not sit here, writing this. Thanks to those who came before me, I learned to deal with whatever hate may come my way (so far I haven't received any, but I am prepared, should any be coming my way) and not take any crap from anyone.
My life is my own and I deserve to be happy, just like anyone else out there. Things may not change overnight, but every day is a new opportunity to get closer to that vision where you are happy in the fact that you have reached your goals, whatever they may be.
Monika: Are there any Swedish transgender role models that you follow? I remember one book by Lina Axelsson Kihlblom - Kommer du tycka om mig nu? (2015) and I interviewed a few ladies from Sweden: Vanessa Lopez, Danielly Drugge, Lisa Olsson, Hannah Warg, Ann-Christine Roxberg, and Sofie Ward...
Cynthia: There are for sure. Although I cannot remember all of them by name, I have surely heard/read about many of them, and they have been a huge help for me personally. While my role models are from all over the place and not just local to Sweden there are some from around here whom I keep close to my heart, as they have not only inspired me but helped me through my worst times by just being, as stated before, "heroes".

"I see myself as a source of inspiration."
(Photo credit: Helena Mattsson - Häxans Foton)

You mentioned Hannah Warg, who with her show "Ask a transgender", which she published on YouTube back in the day helped me quite a bit. It was a big highlight of my day when I got to sit down and actually listen to her show.
I would, however, say that the one person who has helped me, inspired me, and influenced me the most in that regard is Sofie Ward. During my pre-teens and my teens her blog and her journey really had a big impact on my life, and as the years went by I felt like I was along for the ride. Sofie was also the first person in my area to whom I told that I was transgender. She's been a true hero to me.

END OF PART 1

 

Main photo credit: Johan Nylén.
All the photos: courtesy of Cynthia Luna Frost.
© 2020 - Monika Kowalska

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