D!XON, gender non-conforming artist released recently the new summer queer anthem “Arms Around Me”, which is an unapologetic confession and expression of love for those around you, no matter who you love.
D!XON is the moniker of Toronto pop R&B artist Sheldon Dixon. With parents of Trinidadian and Guyanese descent, D!XON has advanced as an artist through singing, songwriting, producing, dancing and acting. From the age of six, his home would echo with the sounds of Michael and Janet Jackson, Toni Braxton and Mariah Carey – musicians who have impacted his artistry today.
It wasn’t always an easy road for D!XON. In high school he would receive daily death threats and criticisms for his gender expression and sexual orientation. His once musical home was silenced by the practice of a strict religion that did not support his love for music and men. He was stripped of his identity and freedom of self-expression down to the places he was able to go and the clothes he was allowed to wear leaving him passionless and down a suicidal road. D!XON spent the latter years of his adolescence not feeling accepted or welcomed in hereronormative urban spaces.
Deciding to press play on his life and create his own soundtrack, D!XON found the courage to leave home, find comfort in religion and came to terms with the fact that his peers may have used him as an outlet for the projection of their own insecurities. D!XON shares, “When I left home I was able to connect with the 2SLGBTQ+ community, and ballroom scene where I started to build relationships with people I related to and I met my long time collaborator Hollywood Jade.” It wasn’t until D!XON met his now long-time music producer, Verse-Atile, that he found true power infusing music and his religious beliefs. D!XON advocates for the causes of anti-bullying and anti-oppression by amplifying the values of self-acceptance as well as the acceptance of others.
D!XON’s latest single “Arms Around Me” is an urban-pop tune to get you feeling sexy and inspired. The mantra of the empowering song is the unapologetic confession and expression of love for those around you, no matter who you love, and before it’s too late. The R&B pop-dance beat is dripping in sauce, stunning, layered vocals, riffs and harmonies.
Along with celebrity director Dan Lemoyne, Hollywood Jade (Drag Race Canada resident choreographer) and Marc Andrew Smith (Drag Race resident stylist), this gender non-conforming recording artist seeks to break the mold with the “Arms Around Me” visuals that were made by the 2SLGBTQ+ community, for the community.
D!XON is also the creator of the City of Toronto’s Drag Masterclass which featured Priyanka, the winner of Drag Race Canada. He has worked closely with Toronto’s very own Drag Legend Sofonda Cox who mentored the at-risk LGBTQ+ youth in the program. This masterclass limited barriers for LGBTQ+ youth in the community who are looking for professional artistic development to increase their chances of employment as a Drag Queen or Drag King at the local Drag Bars. The Masterclass was so successful that it has been renewed annually with the City of Toronto.
D!XON has made it a point to inspire the world with his music, push his artistic expression through visual media, explosive live performances, and support the next generation of artists. D!XON is currently creating and releasing songs that truly tell a story of his LGBTQ+ experience while still being relatable, entertaining and inspiring to the world.
How do you identify?
I identify as a gender non-conforming person.
How did you decide to engage with music?
I have always had a deep, personal, and intimate connection with music! I’ve always felt the desire to share my music with the world, and help people feel a sense of calm, excitement, or freedom that music has helped me feel.
Who are your biggest inspirations and role models?
I would say artists like Prince, Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, and Toni Braxton. Outside of music, people who inspire me are black women specifically the black women in my family who inspire me.
Is there enough LGBTQ+ representation in the music industry?
Absolutely not, it’s time for us to step OUT of our supportive roles that help propel other stars to stardom and start investing our time and talent into our artistic community. We have so much talent, our culture, innovative creative ideas, and stories are valuable as a whole and it’s time for the world to see it.
How has this pandemic affected you personally and career-wise?
Honestly, this pandemic has given me a refreshed respect for time and day to day privileges that we used to have before the pandemic. I have been focusing on connecting with the community, creative collaborators and loved ones providing them with extra care, attention and support. I have never felt such an urge to create and an appreciation for creating opportunities with the resources and time that’s been given to us. For example, the rules and restrictions have been ever-evolving due to the pandemic. The world has been in and out of lockdown. I made sure to take advantage of time! Some businesses like the dance studios and values were open for filming this summer and fall. I jumped at making a music video because of the uncertainty of the next time restrictions were loosened. We did so with all of the safety precautions of course. It was really special being able to collaborate with Dan LeMoyne and Hollywood Jade on my music video for my new single Arms Around Me.
How were your childhood and teenage years?
It was very interesting, to say the least. I lived in between my Mother and Grandmother. My family allowed me to be free, and be unapologetically ME through most of my childhood and teenage years. When I was in high school, my Mom converted to a different religion than my core family. At that time, I went through a lot of changes. I wasn’t able to sing, create or perform due to what we were learning from the religion. It was really hard for me to accept that and adapt. Eventually, I went back to live with my Grandmother where I was able to continue to pursue music and my 2SLGBTQ+ lifestyle. There are soooo many layers haha. Whenever I went to school, when I wasn’t attending arts school haha I got severely bullied due to how feminine I was. It never stopped me from being my true authentic self as much as it hurt me.
What do you remember most from this time?
I remember my song urge and desire to want to be heard and get my music out to the world. There would be nights I would just stare up at the ceiling and dream about the possibilities that were out there.
Have you faced any bullying at school?
Severe bullying, in grade 11 for the entire year… every time I entered and exited the school, I would get death threats and homophobic slurs thrown at me. I tried to get the faculty to help but they weren’t able to. I transferred to art school the following year and was literally in heaven in comparison. I was able to make like-minded friends who supported my lifestyle and artistry. It was a great feeling being able to escape and flourish in an artistic environment.
When did you decide to leave home and how did your life change?
It was interesting navigating it! I was slapped with a harsh reality of the world after leaving my mom’s. I was so sheltered. Grade 11 TRIED me as mentioned above. However, I was able to connect with the 2SLGBTQ+ community. I met friends from the ballroom scene and I honestly learnt a lot and felt so excepted and understood! I also made friends from Canada’s entertainment industry like Hollywood Jade who I met around that time. He was and still is such a great mentor! He has been able to help guide me as a person and support my music which I appreciate him for.
What made you stand on your feet and find the courage to believe in and love yourself?
Not to sound like that person, but to be honest I have always been a self-advocate, courageous and put myself out there. Even in my songwriting when I was in middle school, I wrote songs about self-empowerment and strength. Of course, I have insecurities and anxiety but I gather myself together because the show MUST and always go on. If I don’t believe in myself, I can’t expect others to believe in me.
What role did the ballroom scene play in your life?
Honesty, I came into the ballroom scene at the tender age of 17 dahling haha. It AMPLIFIED, my PRIDE for my sexual orientation and artistic expression. Being in the ballroom scene helped me find another layer of myself and elevated my sense of self and freedom.
How important is the drag culture for you?
Drag culture is important to me because it is innovative and inspires me to think BIG! There is so much that goes into Drag that I think a lot of people are not able to understand. The Drag culture also stimulates and pushes pop culture in a lot of aspects.
What is the message you want to spread with your song?
The message I want to spread with Arms Around Me, is to be vulnerable and open with your lover. There is no sense in holding back your feelings and desire. Let it be known and take chances.
What are your future plans?
I am currently writing and recording music for my first album. I am staying very focused on the process, and I am excited. As we all know with the pandemic that we’re currently going through, makes it hard to make plans. All I can do is control my controllable, take it a day at a time and be able to pivot with creative ideas and opportunities when it presents itself.
More of D!xon here: