June Amelia meets me at Cafeteria Coffee House on a chilly Thursday evening. True to her stage name, flower housewife, the petite, 23-year-old musician and singer-songwriter sports a floral patterned dress, sheer tights and an enamel daisy charm choker.
Amelia is shy and soft-spoken; in the crowded, noisy coffeehouse, her voice is barely loud enough for me to make out. However, Amelia assures me once we order some beverages, she isn’t afraid to delve deep. Her openness is her trademark, an essential part of both her brand as a musician and her character as a person. “You’ve seen my Twitter, so you probably already know,” she says, sipping on a caramel iced coffee, “but I’m an oversharer.”
The Long Island-born indie rock artist resides in New Paltz, New York, but music — Amelia’s self-professed “one true love” — has taken her throughout the country. As the one-woman act flower housewife, Amelia writes her own lyrics and music and performs at live shows with her guitar. In March 2016, Amelia released her most recent contribution to the indie music scene, “the false spring queen,” on her Bandcamp page, where she uploads her demos and albums.
Amelia also plays bass for Long Neck, a four-person indie rock and pop-punk group who recently wrapped up an informal 2016 tour throughout the Northeast. Recently, she performed with Long Neck at different venues throughout the tri-state area, including SUNY Purchase in Westchester County. The ambitious singer-songwriter even has her own record label, Sundress Records, in the works.
Ever the multi-instrumental talent, Amelia can play guitar, bass, banjo, ukulele and piano. Music has been a part of her life since the age of 10 or 11, she says, when she first signed up for drum lessons. She quickly discovered that drums weren’t for her, only to point to a guitar on the wall of a music shop in her hometown and ask “to learn that instead.” She ended up learning guitar with the help of a neighbor — and, eventually, on her own. Her musical career began to blossom after she played at open mic nights at different bars and coffee shops in New Paltz.
“I played at Snugs’ open mic nights on Thursdays a lot,” she says, grinning at the memory.
Amelia loves punk rock bands like Against Me! and Bright Eyes, but the singer-songwriter takes much of her lyrical inspiration from “confessional poetry.” Many of her songs reference her process of coming to terms with her gender identity and sexuality. Things aren’t easy for queer trans women, something Amelia knows well. Her hormone replacement therapy has tightened her purse strings, putting a halt to projects like Sundress Records. Even so, a determined Amelia managed to scrape together a free digital compilation album under her in-the-works record label this past September, available via Sundress Records’ Twitter account.
Amelia’s poetic, deeply personal lyrical style is “therapeutic” for the artist, simultaneously an outlet to cope with change and hardships as well as a way to connect with other people who might be experiencing similar things. In fact, that’s what Amelia loves about making and performing music: forging connections.
“It’s that moment when someone finally gets it,” she says. “That’s what I love the most.”
The singer-songwriter grew up loving writing and poetry, but it isn’t quite the same as making music, she says. After all, books and poetry anthologies can intimidate even the most voracious of readers, but “anyone has three minutes for a song.”
A refreshingly raw take on indie music, Amelia’s “the false spring queen” is a collection of down-tempo, highly emotional numbers detailing what the artist calls “an inherently flawed narrative of girlhood.” Tracks like “hampton pizzeria” and “faulkner novels” highlight the singer-songwriter’s musical chops; Amelia deftly brings her listeners right smack in the middle of different scenes with richly-detailed lyrics and her ragged, drawn-out croon. The album is a queer coming-of-age tale, something that rings painfully true to anyone who has been hurt or suffered while living their most authentic life. It’s a record best listened to “with headphones or on your shitty car speakers at a late night,” Amelia writes on her website.
Right now, Amelia is sitting on some new releases that “aren’t quite done yet.” Some of her favorite works-in-progress are “self-med,” a track that explores Amelia’s own “dabbling in self-medicating,” and “mall goth,” a number she describes best.
“It’s a banger,” Amelia says with a grin. “I’ll say that much.”
Amelia and I spend much of our short time together in a comfortable, shared silence, admiring the smooth-voiced singer crooning and strumming chords on his guitar on the coffee house’s makeshift stage. During one such moment of quiet, Amelia’s phone lights up with a notification: it’s a Tinder message, she says, unlocking her phone to take a look. She reads her potential suitor’s message, smiles gingerly and giggles.
“Oh no,” I whisper. “Bad?”
“No,” she replies, still smiling. “It’s some girl from Potsdam. She says I look badass with my guitar.”