Exploring Queerness and Identity Through Song
Releasing their debut album on March 25th, 2022, Finnish-American singer Miki Ratsula truly delves into deep and contemporary topics in their new album, i owe it to myself. Throughout the album, Ratsula is able to effectively delve into their own trauma and experiences; learning to express and love themself as a young queer person. Each of the tracks on the album has a particular purpose. Likewise, each of the songs on the album is filled with a sort of intimacy that is hard to find in other artists.
Originally posting their original songs on Soundcloud, this is the first full-length album for the up-and-coming artist. Only being 23 years old, this is an astounding start for their debut album.
Even before listening to any particular tracks, one can immediately notice the particular aesthetic of the album as a whole. All of the tracks in the set are all in lower case, along with the cover art of Ratsula, where they’re in a field with their chest exposed. This already sets the album up to tackle revealing and uncomfortable topics to some even before listening, as Ratsula’s top surgery scars are visible.
A lot of songs delve into queer love, one’s identity and working on self-love. For example, the first song in the entire album is literally titled, “(i hate myself sometimes).” Although this song is short, only running for 54 seconds, it speaks about the wish to change the body or sexual orientation one was given. The song starts more negative, but then shifts to Ratsula singing over a soft acoustic guitar, “And I’ve got people who love me, yea I’ve got people who love me. So how can I not love myself too?” This first song is definitely a foreshadowing of themes that will be further explored in the album.
Besides identity as a transgender person, Ratsula also discusses queer romance and how they met their partner. In the track “grocery store,” they describe how they quite simply met their future girlfriend at a grocery store. The song in itself is very immersive, even starting with a few beeps of a supposed food scanner. The song is otherwise simple in its composition by utilizing a simple synth and subdued percussive beat. Overall, there are a lot of songs in the album which discuss this love in all of its forms. Queer love is usually something in music that can still be taboo to discuss or allude to and it’s exciting to see how Ratsula is able to implement these personal stories and their own intimacy into the tracks. Another song that focuses on this romance includes “timeless,” which utilizes echoes and major 7th chords to create a dreamy atmosphere.
The two most popular songs off of the album are “suffocate” with guest vocals by Lauren Sanderson and “second.” Although “suffocate” has the most streams by far, “second” has more technical intricacies that make it stand out. On the contrary “suffocate” is more upbeat and features more percussion than the other tracks on the album. Lyrically, “second” has strong themes of self-love, acceptance and emotional intimacy that is also present in the previous songs discussed. The song also features backup vocals during the bridge and last chorus producing an echoing motif. This is utilized in a few other songs on the album as well, creating a sense of longing.
Overall, Miki Ratsula pulls off truly impressive work for their first main album i owe it to myself. By tackling subjects dealing with their own identity as a transgender queer person with songs featuring light acoustics and relatable lyrics; Ratsula’s new album is already getting a lot of attention on streaming services since its release. By sharing their own stories of romantic intimacy and self-discovery through their music, they create a space where other people can feel safe to be authentically themselves.