Gyal Dem Fiyah: Ellise/Elle Barbara

Gyal Dem Fiyah: Ellise/Elle Barbara

Ellise Barbara is located just a hop and a skip away from us, in Montreal. She is a musician, DJ, and performance artist who, for the last few years, has been reshaping Montreal’s indie music scene by subverting its rules and regs. Elle is not about tailoring herself to fit any industry standard; her music is not asking for admission to the club – quite the contrary. Instead, she is laying the groundwork for something altogether new in the Montreal scene. She’s focusing on taking up space for herself and those who share her realities: those who live Black realities and those who live trans realities. And if the space isn’t already there to take up, she creates it.

 A photo of Elle Barbara’s Black Space team.

A photo of Elle Barbara’s Black Space team.

Elle has established such movements as Black Space, a band with two other Black musicians. This might not strike you as significant, but in Montreal, a city whose performance art and independent music scenes are well known yet dominated by white, cisgender artists, this shifts the curve. 


Ellise is the organizer and curator of Shemale Reprezent!, an event series that features transfeminine DJs of colour – a demographic rife with talent yet rarely reflected in club lineups. She’s also a member of Taking What We Need, a  community group made up of transfeminine folks that fundraises, through raves, for low-income trans women. She is active on social media, candidly sharing her experiences and ideas – everything from her perspectives on dating while trans, to her experiences of racism, transphobia, and assault, to her process around choosing new hair installs. 

shemale-reprezent!

Her latest endeavour is her project Bosom Confidante, a sex-themed variety and talk showr. Described as “a little like HBO’s Real Sex, with Oprah as the host,” it’s sure to be a ki! Keep up with the moves Elle makes at facebook.com/jefellisebarbara.

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This was just the tip of the iceberg. It’ll take a lifetime to get through the sheer volume of QWOC doing cool shit in and around our city. I’ve got my teeny tiny little icepick, and I’m down to get started.

Stay tuned for more …

P.S. Don’t hesitate to contact us with folks you’d like to see featured. All gyal dem fiyah need fi get put on blast. xxoo 

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