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Paisley Fields ‘Stay Away From My Man’ 1
Courtesy Paisley Fields and Topher Cusumano

Paisley Fields is the fearless country artist queering cowboy culture

The musician has just dropped the video for his whimsical jealousy anthem ‘Stay Away From My Man’, featuring legendary porn star Boomer Banks

“I’ve seen you strutting your stuff at the honky-tonk, watch where you’re putting your hands,” opens Paisley Fields’ quick-witted, silver-tongued jealousy anthem, “Stay Away From My Man”.

The track, which details one person’s desperation to keep his boyfriend away from the “prettiest stick of dynamite in Brooklyn”, explores the nuances of desire and self-confidence in gay relationships. It’s emblematic of Fields’ unapologetically queer country music, which uses razor sharp wit to navigate the loneliness and tenderness of the LGBTQ+ experience.

Paisley Fields began life in 2013 as a duo, consisting of Fields (the sole songwriter) and his friend Jessica. “I wanted to involve her in any decisions I made,” Fields tells Dazed now. “Early on, she told me she appreciated my willingness to include her, but this was my project and my vision. While that stung a bit at the time, it was something I needed to hear and I’m glad she was honest with me.”

Fields explains that Jessica’s departure helped him to “take ownership” of the project and “trust the choices I made as an artist”. Since then, the musician has adopted the name for himself, and released two albums: his 2018 debut, Glitter & Sawdust, and its 2020 follow-up, Electric Park Ballroom.

“Stay Away From My Man” features on the latter, and today gets an accompanying video directed by Slag Wars producer Topher Cusumano. Starring adult actor Boomer Banks as Fields’ plaid-wearing, eye-wandering boyfriend, whose affections are stolen by the local “two-stepping, two-timing, straight-acting fancy pants queen”.

“I haven’t been in a monogamous relationship in over a decade, so I wanted to work with Paisley to explore the nuances of how jealousy and self-doubt can affect queer desires, even in consensual scenarios like a threesome,” Cusumano says of the video’s narrative. “When you redirect ‘jealous lover energy’ away from other people and onto yourself, it starts to bring up different questions: Where is this jealousy coming from? Who am I actually angry with? What outcome do I want from this situation? What am I afraid of?”

Primarily traversing two scenes – a purple neon-lighted striptease and a cheesy, sunset-style photoshoot – the steamy video comprises everything you could possibly want from a gay country artist: shirtless men, a glitter mesh top, and – of course – a sexy and happy ending (no, not that kind).

“There’s been a tonne of articles recently that insist the 70s are back,” continues Cusumano, “I wanted to make the video feel like a 70s B-movie trailer. I was really influenced (honestly, obsessed) by this movie called The Great Texas Dynamite Chase.”

Here, Fields discusses the video, cowboy culture, and how queer representation in country music has changed in recent years.

What’s the relationship between cowboy culture and queer culture? How do you interplay the two?

Paisley Fields: Two words: Wrangler butts. The notion of a gay cowboy is nothing new. It’s weird because cowboy culture can also be aggressively masculine and anti-queer. When we were planning the video, Topher was sending me all these clips of old westerns and holy shit, they were so gay! I grew up in a small town, and I spent my summers working on farms and going to tailgates. Being queer shouldn’t automatically exclude you from country life. A lot of these fake outlaws in country music act like they own cowboy culture. I’ve existed in these spaces my whole life – most of the time hiding who I was out of fear for my own safety. So I’m sure as hell gonna take up as much space as I want now in my Stetson, my boots, and some hot pink fringe.

What was it like working with Boomer Banks? How did the collab come about?

Paisley Fields: I loved working with Boomer; he’s been so supportive and enthusiastic throughout the whole production. When Topher and I were coming up with the concept, Boomer was the first person he mentioned when it came to casting. I had done a digital event with him last year, but this was our first time working on a set together. He’s fantastic, and I hope to work with him again!

“I’ve existed in these spaces my whole life – most of the time hiding who I was. So I’m sure as hell gonna take up as much space as I want now in my Stetson, my boots, and some hot pink fringe” – Paisley Fields

The song and video centre on queer desire, jealousy, and the dynamics of queer relationsips – can you talk me through why you wanted to explore this?

Paisley Fields: I was talking about Loretta Lynn with Mya Byrne, who co-wrote the song with me. We thought, ‘If Loretta Lynn had been born a gay man, what song would she have written?’ “Stay Away From My Man” is what we came up with. I like to take classic country music themes and queer them up. Desire, jealousy, and relationship dynamics are pretty common themes you can find in any typical country song. All I’m doing is writing country music from my perspective.

To what extent do you see more doors opening when it comes to queer representation, innovation, and creativtiy?

Paisley Fields: Visibility is so important. The more people talk openly about being queer, the less afraid people will be to come out. TJ Osborne coming out is hugely impactful. Lil Nas X releasing “Call Me By Your Name” and it – a song about queer sex – going to number one is monumental. I think with far less fear, there is more freedom for expression. Queer artists have been repressed, oppressed, and suppressed for too long. The most exciting artists to me are queer.

Who are your country music heroes?

Paisley Fields: I tend to gravitate towards artists who piss of the conservative right. I love The Chicks. Patrick Haggerty from Lavender Country is a friend and hero of mine – he helped pave the way for people like me to make country music. Anybody who is brave enough to unapologetically be themselves when they know they are going to get shit for it is a hero to me. There are a lot of people making queer country music right now, and I respect the hell out of all of them.

What was the first country song that really captured you?

Paisley Fields: I’ve always loved Gram Parsons. It’s kinda cheesy, but the song “Love Hurts” with Emmylou Harris was one of the first country songs that really hit hard for me. Being queer and having to keep it a secret was painful. When I was growing up in Iowa, if you had feelings for a guy and they found out, you would be in some real danger. This was a time not too long after Matthew Shepard (was murdered). I remember when he was killed. At that time, I felt like I didn’t have a choice but to keep that part of me hidden. I heard that song and was like, ‘Damn, yeah love does hurt’.

What’s next music wise as lockdowns come to an end?

Paisley Fields: I’ve been writing a lot, so I’ll be heading down to Nashville in a few weeks to record some new music. My calendar is starting to slowly fill up with shows. I’ll be playing at the Knitting Factory in Brooklyn on October 1. Hopefully there will be more shows on the horizon as things open up and it’s safe to play again. I really miss it, and I’m excited to get back on stage.

Electric Park Ballroom is out now