Q&A: Local Singer Marissa Kay

in SF Local Bands by

How did you come up with the name of the band?
When I started my transition, I chose the name Marissa because it was the name my mom would have called me if I had been assigned female at birth. My band is called “Marissa Kay and the Lunar Angels” because I loved the imagery of the name.

How would you describe your sound?
Folk rock with an edge. A little distortion, a little twang, and a lot of heart.

When did you first become interested in playing music?
I first started singing and playing guitar when I was 15 years old. My uncle also played guitar, and he taught me to play my first couple chords.

What’s the strangest or funniest thing that’s ever happened to you at a show?
Last year I had my album release party at the famous punk rock venue 924 Gilman, and all my bandmates dressed in drag! Our drummer, Gerard, wore a Sailor Moon cosplay. I did their makeup and used tons of glitter. It was such a fun moment and everybody loved their outfits.

What are you listening to these days?
I’ve been listening to my friend and fellow local singer-songwriter Carlie Mari. We wrote a song together called “Close My Eyes” that appeared on my album. I also love the new album from Brandi Carlile. It tugs at your heartstrings in all the right ways.

What are some of your favorites hangs in the Bay Area and why?
I love going to the open mic nights around town. There’s a lot of great community there and everyone supports each other. You can usually find me at the Hotel Utah on Mondays, or Cafe International on Friday nights.

What does music mean to you?
Music is everything to me. It’s the reason I get up in the morning. It’s a part of my identity. It’s self-expression and therapy. It’s a way I can connect to people, especially those in the LGBTQ+ community, and let them know they are not alone.

How’d you guys first get together to play music?
I met all my bandmates through the open mic community. We all started jamming together and things clicked right away. The guys all play in each other’s bands too, so there is a lot of camaraderie between us as musicians.

What inspires you to write?
Life experiences. My songs are very personal and all about things that have happened to me. Some of my songs are about my life as a trans woman, but others are about traveling or romantic relationships I’ve had.

What’s your favorite neighborhood in the city and why?
The Mission. I love walking around the little alleys and looking at all the street art. And Dolores Park is a perfect place to hang out with a bunch of friends and a couple guitars.

What’s one thing that people would be surprised to find out about you?
I love nature and animals. I’ve swum with manatees before. They love people and let you pet them. It was a magical experience.

Is there anything you’d like to plug?
My debut album, Trans Is Love, is available on Spotify and physical CD. We also are playing a show at Bottom of the Hill on June 20th. It’s right before Pride weekend, and the lineup is all LGBTQ+ performers.

 

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An avid drummer whose discography includes albums on Digital Nations (a Steve Vai imprint), music critic Louis Raphael has always kept a pulse on the San Francisco music scene. After many years as the San Francisco Music Examiner for Examiner.com and AXS.com, he decided to start Music in SF® as a way to showcase what the San Francisco music scene really has to offer.