Today (July 14) is International Nonbinary Peoples' Day, but Tony & The Kiki celebrates gender fluidity and authentic self-expression 365 days a year.
Fronted by powerhouse vocalist Anthony Alfaro, Tony & The Kiki is a new psychedelic rock band whose influences run the gamut — think Stevie Nicks, La Lupe, The Spice Girls. It's a passion project for Alfaro, a self-described "genderfuck Latine rock-and-roll bruje" who cut their teeth working for Gloria Estefan while touring with the Miami Sound Machine.
"This band exists because I wanted to create a sound I craved and wasn’t hearing," they tell NewNowNext. The project took shape when Alfaro met Tony & The Kiki's resident producer-"synth hoe," fellow nonbinary musician Max Vernon, at a queer séance on New York City's Lower East Side (true story, and get this: they were trying to summon spirits from the 1970s). The vibes were "immaculate," Alfaro remembers, and the duo later decided to assemble some of their favorite local "music witches" — including guitarist Junior Pauls, bassist Yuka Tadano, "key-master" Rodney Bush, and drummer Tristan Marzeski — for a proper kiki. The rest was history.
Now, Tony & The Kiki is gearing up to release their debut EP, Light It Up, this fall. The group has also given NewNowNext the exclusive on the EP's epic, glam rock-inspired title track, premiering today in honor of International Nonbinary Peoples' Day.
On "Light It Up," Alfaro's rich vocals shine over fiery guitar riffs and bombastic percussion. "Calling all my indigos / Living in the shadows / Time to make a sound," Alfaro proclaims, summoning their fellow LGBTQ+ folks, people of color, brujes, and anyone else who has ever felt othered because of who they are.
"Whether singing or writing, I am always trying to channel the divine feminine and masculine within me," they explain. "From an early age, I was putting on my mom’s stilettos and singing and shaking it to my parents' vintage records. As I grew up, it became pretty clear to me that society was not going to be into all of that, but eventually, I just said 'fuck it,' found myself a pair of purple python platforms, and became the rock-and-roll sorceress I saw in my mind’s eye."
Before forming Tony & The Kiki, Alfaro felt like rock music, a genre they'd always adored, was "a straight white bros-only club." "Light It Up" is the band's battle cry, and Alfaro's way of declaring, "I'm here now, Mamí."
Listen to "Light It Up" in full below, but beware, it will make you want to set the world ablaze.
Main image: Anthony Alfaro.