Llife on the road suits Geoffrey Muller, the multi-faceted musician who fans may know as @CajunBanjo on Instagram. He’s currently on tour with Houston Gulf Coast soul band The Suffers, so he spoke with OutSmart from his hotel in Wyoming.
With a career influenced by a wide range of music, a personal style that caught the eye of GQ, and a penchant for creating one-of-a-kind, one-of-a-kind crafts (her Instagram showcases her incredible embroidery skills) Muller is a eclectic Houston artist worth watching.
“Music has been my full-time job since my mid-twenties,” says the 43-year-old musician. “I’ve been playing guitar since I was 12 or 13. My father had mentioned that he had always wanted to play the banjo. I don’t know if I had heard one before, but I asked for one and got it for Christmas. I am self-taught, mainly through books. I would look into it.
Pursuing music full-time was a no-brainer for Muller. “After college, I did voice acting and acting in Houston and played music at night. After a year, I realized I wanted to do it full time,” he says. “I made my own schedule, met cool people and traveled the world. There are a lot of perks at work. You don’t get paid much at first, but it’s fun.
He really made his mark on Houston starting in 2002 at the Montrose bar and Avant Garden event space, where he played to large crowds of locals for four years. “I met a lot of people at that weekly gig. It was a crazy night in Montrose every Monday night. There would be 200 people inside for those shows.
Eventually, lending his talents to artists such as Robert Ellis, Joshua Ray Walker, and Ethiopian pop musician Gili Yalo, to name a few, Muller, who identifies as queer, became recognizable to close audiences. and distant. “I travel the world now, and people ask me if I’m Cajun Banjo,” Muller laughs as he describes people who recognize his Instagram handle. “When I started, I didn’t know I could [also] tour and do all the things I do now. I thought you just did gigs in bars until you died,” the Houston native with deep family roots in Louisiana jokes. “My world expanded when Robert Ellis started moving around a bit.”
Agitation is always a priority for Muller as he makes sure to keep going full steam ahead. “We don’t shoot 365 days a year. I have to find other artists to work with to keep moving and working. He is set to play bass for Houston legend Kam Franklin’s new solo project. Networking is the name of the game when it comes to finding your next gig. “A lot of times I see the same people at music festivals and we become friends. They call me and ask me to do two-week tours or record on an album. It’s the handshake and the networking old.
While he’s usually hired to play guitar or bass, Muller takes to social media to show off his banjo skills. “I started making banjo videos on TikTok. People don’t usually associate banjo with house and the 90s songs I cover.
He also dazzles crowds with his own band, Geoffrey’s Electric Banjo Band. “When I go out and play my shows, there are a lot of queer people in the audience. They contacted me online and told me they play banjo,” he says. “I had stopped playing the banjo because certain environments [for that music] are a bit more conservative and less tolerant, and it’s not a place I want to be. [But now that I’m] playing the banjo in public again, I noticed that things had changed a lot.
Muller’s fashion sense has also earned her praise. “I was featured on the GQ website when they profiled the Trans-Pecos festival in Marfa,” he recalled. “At the beginning, I really liked The golden girls, so I found some Bea Arthur-esque dresses and rocked them for a while. I found a red jumpsuit like my grandpa would wear, and it was so comfy. It turned into overalls, and I collected them everywhere I went. Soon I started making bolo ties and wearing cowboy hats. I didn’t like country music growing up, but my parents always joked that I would get into it eventually. I don’t consider myself a cowboy, however, I grew up in Missouri City!
The multi-talented musician and creator paves the way for other queer artists, and encourages them to make their voices and influence known. “I wish there were more queer voices in the country and American music worlds that I find myself in,” he notes.
Muller hopes being true to himself will ultimately create more space at the table. “There are a lot of people in the queer community who love country music, and I want there to be more space for them.”
Geoffrey Muller performs at Axelrad on August 6th. Follow him on Instagram @cajunbanjo.
This article appears in the August 2022 issue of OutSmart magazine.