The musician and poet formerly named Kate Tempest has changed their name to Kae Tempest, and announced they are non-binary.
In the announcement on Instagram, Tempest said they were changing the pronouns they use, from she and her to they and them. Their new name is pronounced like the letter K. They wrote:
I’ve been struggling to accept myself as I am for a long time. I have tried to be what I thought others wanted me to be so as not to risk rejection. This hiding from myself has led to all kinds of difficulties in my life. And this is a first step towards knowing and respecting myself better. I’ve loved Kate. But I am beginning a process and I hope you’ll come with me … [Kae is] an old English word that means jay bird. Jays are associated with communication, curiosity, adaptation to new situations and COURAGE which is the name of the game at the moment. It can also mean jackdaw which is the bird that symbolises death and rebirth. Ovid said the jackdaw brought the rain. Which I love. It has its roots in the Latin word for rejoice, be glad and take pleasure. And I hope to live more that way each day … This is a time of great reckoning. Privately, locally, globally. For me, the question is no longer ‘when will this change’ but ‘how far am I willing to go to meet the changes and bring them about in myself.’ I want to live with integrity. And this is a step towards that. Sending LOVE always.
In an interview with Notion in August 2019, they discussed their queer identity: “It took me a long time to be able to stand with my own queerness and where I sit on the gender spectrum. That journey, for me, has been a challenging journey … to be able to just stand on stage and just be in my presence, and in my body, and the fact that I’m even there at all — that’s powerful for somebody in the audience going through their own journey with their sexuality or gender.”
They described the song Firesmoke, nominated for best contemporary song at this year’s Ivor Novello songwriting awards, as “a beautiful articulation of queer love … It’s a powerful thing to stand up and make these proclamations about sexuality to women.”
Tempest released their debut album in 2011, and has become an acclaimed musical artist creating performance poetry – partly informed by rap and hip-hop – alongside a wide variety of writing.
They are the joint top nominee at the Ivor Novellos this year, with another nomination for album of the year, for The Book of Traps and Lessons. It is their fourth album, with two previous releases each nominated for the Mercury prize. They have also written a novel, 2016’s The Bricks That Built the Houses, plus three plays and five poetry collections.
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