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For Minnesota musician Riley Skinner, queerness is part of nature

Woman with curly blonde hair, white t-shirt, and red fingernails looks at the camera.
Minnesota musician Riley Skinner released a new album, Surrender, in 2023.

Skinner has a new album "Surrender," her first since moving to Minnesota in 2021.

MINNEAPOLIS — On her new album Surrender, Riley Skinner explores queer identity through her love of the natural world.

“As queer people, we’re often told that we’re against nature or that there’s something unnatural about queer identity,” Skinner said on Centerstage Minnesota. “Whereas queerness has always existed in every culture, even in the natural world outside human existence.”

Skinner, who moved to Minnesota from Washington in 2021, has a deep connection to the outdoors and the natural world. That passion was the perfect vehicle to combat homophobic ideas about queerness.

“It just felt like a way to put a positive spin on a negative energy that is forced upon queer people regularly,” Skinner said.

The singer arrived in Minneapolis with much of the album already written, and quickly sought out connections in the local scene. Through Bandcamp, she found bassist Shannon van der Reck, and a friend tipped her off to producer Holly Hansen. Hansen, who leads the Minnesota project Zoo Animal, runs a studio in the Twin Cities that has become a go-to spot for local musicians.

The final piece of the puzzle moved to Minneapolis with Skinner. Her wife, Colleen, is a drummer who also makes electronic dance music.

Woman with blonde curly hair and white t-shirt looks at the camera
Riley Skinner
Riley Skinner guested on Centerstage Minnesota on Friday, March 1, 2024.

The trio are especially locked in on “You Go A Long Way,” a favorite of DJs at KAXE. The song is a love letter to Skinner’s new home, and is the first full song she wrote after moving. With the bass and drums setting the pace, the musician sings about the power of community.

“It is about all the little moments and the little connections I’ve made that have added up to feeling like I have a home here,” Skinner said.

The singer’s next show is March 18 at the 331 Club in Minneapolis. It will also be livestreamed on the Womenfolk Radio Facebook page.

To learn more about Riley Skinner, her new album, and the show, listen to the full interview above.

Centerstage Minnesota, Fridays at 2 p.m. and 10 p.m. on KAXE/KBXE, is made possible by the citizens of Minnesota through the Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund. 

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Malachy started his radio career at a college radio station, where he played weird music in the middle of the night to possibly no one. On a good night maybe his parents were listening. Nonetheless, he was hooked on public radio and is still doing it today. He joined Northern Community Radio in 2022, where he gets to share his passion for local music as Producer of Centerstage Minnesota, an all Minnesota music show airing Fridays at 2pm.