Queer London band Thigh High are all about unadulterated joy

Their new video is a wild celebration of their beloved gender non-conforming grandmothers on a Thelma and Louise style rampage.

by Frankie Dunn
28 August 2020, 10:00am

Six years ago, the writer and drag queen Tom Rasmussen and musician friend Hatty Carman got kicked out of their guardianship home in London after constructing a series of makeshift walls out of chiffon and having the whole thing declared a fire hazard. Before they were evicted, however, they wrote a series of songs about aliens and sex and being queer and grandmas. They even played the busking stage at Glastonbury once, but, after a too-heavy night at NYC Downlow, Tom and Hatty were kicked out of that situation too. “The guitar was out of tune and we could barely sing a note because we were so hungover,” they remember.

Refusing to give up on the project, they recruited friends to join what soon became the six-piece band Thigh High is today. “We actually released an album once at the George Tavern on Commercial Road, with a run of a hundred USB sticks packaged in blown-up balloons with the word ‘patriarchy’ scrawled on them in sharpie,” the duo told us. “Everyone had to take a pin and pop the balloon in order to get to the album. At the beginning we were obsessed with being anti-online and anti-social media, but there’s only so far popping a balloon goes before you realise it’s actually politically ineffective if nobody’s listening. We love to see it!”

Making music with a focus on humour, politics, power and joy, the fashion favourites are determined not to scrimp on the joy part. “The thing that unites so many powerful queers is both their politics and their humour, but the latter is often forgotten about or ignored,” they say. “So often we’re asked to give our trauma in exchange for being heard. Of course, it’s completely valid and important to hear queer stories and engage with voices which explore and expose the ways queer people are oppressed, but Thigh High is a space for unadulterated joy.”

Having teamed up with queer producer Margo Broom, they ended up with new single “Nannas on a Rampage”. “We both grew up in regional England, and where we’re from Nannas are a really culturally beloved matriarch,” they explain. “But the thing about these women is that they’re actually super gender non-conforming in essence, and completely defy social expectation while literally using a can of Silvikrin hairspray a day.” The single, they continue, is about what it would look like if their iconic, hardened, brilliant grandmothers went on a glamorous Thelma and Louise-style gender-rage rampage.

The music video, directed by Isolde Penwarden and premiering on i-D today, is an extension of that adventure but with a gay propaganda twist. In it, the two best friends — wearing Gareth Pugh catsuits and impossibly long black nails no less — are arrested for their wild behaviour, but manage to escape by flashing their literally glowing genitalia. Because of course. “The idea is that any interaction with these pure fuming Nannas frees your inner queer, because that’s what our Nannas did for us,” they say. They also saw the project as a chance to imagine their older selves. “We think that imagining your future as a queer person always feels like a radical act, because society doesn’t really give us the tools to do so. This was an opportunity to explore that for ourselves and become the rad Nannas we’ve learned so much from.”

The visual ends with a classic “To Be Continued” teaser. So what happens next? “A whole album, and then likely a Grammy,” they tell us, tongue in cheek. “Thigh High is about storytelling, and each song on the album is about a different character… there’s sex robots, trans comets and bad babysitters. This one might be about raging Nannas, but the next is about a dildo called Tiffany whose batteries die.”

Keep an eye out for that one.

Tom Rasmussen