Destino: Gay Musicians Should Be Celebrated Outside of Pride Month
Denver musician Destino Mondragon, who uses the pronouns they/them, says their music sounds like journal entries.
“It’s a way of moving on from certain chapters in my life, or welcoming new beginnings into my life,” says the Denver native, who performs under the mononym Destino. “For me, that’s how I connect. I want to share with people the true feelings that you feel. People resonate with that.
Mondragon’s heavily electronic music sounds like it’s been sent back in time to a very strange future. Their latest album, starcrasheris a collection of emotions and experiences that show how Mondragon changes as a person and grows as an artist, while healing his inner child on a journey of self-expression, self-discovery and futurism.
“This project really exemplifies that,” Mondragon says. “There are a lot of songs about love, heartbreak, sobriety and fighting that sobriety. I’m kind of open about it.
Mondragon performs at Meow Wolf on Wednesday, June 1 and headlines a starcrasher release party on Friday, June 3 at Universe. They planned choreography, lights, and programming from other Denver-area queer artists.
On starcrasherMondragon Follows Up On Sound Concepts Covered In 2021 EP When the world was ending, as a creative use of AutoTune, which was integrated into the production more seamlessly on the new disc. Mondragon says the album reflects the confidence they have in themselves as people, adding that they have a better sense of how to contribute to Denver’s art and music scene.
“I feel like as a non-binary person, I was really able to explore my identity and self-expression on this project,” Mondragon says. On When the world was ending“I was getting experimental with vocal production and intertwining my identity through the use of vocal modulation. I feel like on this project I really translated that into the production and songwriting.”
They are still exploring their sound, and the record, while undoubtedly Destino music, crosses several genres.
“The way I’m really able to convey this exhalation and this discovery of music and sound through this album is because there is literally music across the spectrum,” Mondragon says. “There is a slow tempo. There is rap. There’s catchy electronic disco stuff. It’s all over the place, showing what I’m trying to test.
Mondragon adds that it’s important to show growth from project to project and says they’ve seen each progression as breaking through a glass ceiling. Thinking about what they would call breaking the final glass ceiling, Mondragon landed on the name of the new album: starcrasher.
Mondragon worked with a host of other queer experimental pop artists on the record, including Umami Goddess, JBBittner, Rae Renee and Tyler Ashton. Mondragon also performs with queer artists through production company Wide Eyed Entertainment, including Alice Kane Wolf, Cau5er, Kill Kill Bite Bite, and Dragon Drop. Denver has a good number of artists from across the queer spectrum — enough to consider the community its own scene — and Mondragon draws inspiration from them.
“With this project, I really wanted to focus on working with all queer creators and just amplifying that,” Mondragon says. “That unique voice is sometimes overlooked by a lot of people.”
As Pride Month begins, celebrating all things LGBTQ has become a business and is essentially a cash grab for different businesses, Mondragon says, “People need to stop booking only queer artists for Pride Shows We literally exist every two months of the year, and we deserve to be seen in more spaces.
They add that queer people deserve safer spaces, especially in light of recent and ongoing political attacks on LGTBQ people and their very existence. Pride month, Mondragon says, is a time when everyone needs to remember that queer people exist and they matter.
“We’re going to be here no matter what,” they say. “I want to be able to create and provide spaces for queer people to share their art and their existence all year round, not just Pride.”
Mondragon adds that they are still figuring out who they are as a person, but enjoying the journey.
“I’m still trying to figure this out,” they say. “But I’m doing a good job. I pave my own driveway and plant these seeds.
Destino performs at the Indie 102.3 Pride Party in meow wolf1338 First Street, at 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 1. starcrasher the coming out party takes place at Universe, 1869 South Broadway, at 7 p.m. on Friday, June 3. Tickets for both events are available at destinomakesmusic.com. starcrasher will be available to stream on all platforms on June 1.