Since moving to Philadelphia from Las Vegas in 2015, Shamir has been an abundantly creative force.

Besides releasing seven albums and running his own label, the indie-pop singer has published a book of visual art called But I’m A Painter, founded the Bipolar Butterfly clothing line, and written an astrology column for online magazine Talkhouse.

Shamir’s new album, released on the AntiFragile Music label, is called Heterosexuality. He’ll play a show in support of it with his three-piece rock band at MilkBoy Philly on March 22.

The album’s title “was a joke at first,” says the singer. “But now, it makes more sense to call it that because it’s about my relationship with the straight world.”

Heterosexuality’s promotional materials call the album, which was produced by Hollow Comet, the nom de rock of Isaac Elger of the band Strange Ranger, “the first to confront Shamir’s queerness explicitly.”

That’s true, says the 27-year-old songwriter. His last name is Bailey, but he’s gone by Shamir ever since the success of his 2014 debut EP, Northtown, named after the Vegas neighborhood where he grew up across from a pig farm.

Being open about being queer isn’t new for Shamir.

“How do I say this?” he said in an Inquirer interview in 2017. “I’m a male biologically, and I’ve always felt like a boy. But I’ve always been very feminine. .. Being nonbinary is me accepting my androgyny.”

But Heterosexuality has a thematic consistency that’s new, starting with the singles “Gay Agenda” and “Cisgender.” In the latter, Shamir rhymes: “I’m not cisgender, I’m not binary, trans / I don’t want to be a girl, I don’t want to be a man.”

“I think the reason is it took me so long is that I wanted it to be correct,” says the singer, who spoke from his home in South Philly both on the phone and via video in an Inquirer Live: Philly Playlist interview.

“There are two types of songs that center queerness, right? Songs of pride, and/or songs of angst.

“If you listen to “Cisgender,” I’m not trying to tell you how proud I am of myself, or of my queerness. Or that you even have to care. I’m just telling you that this is who I am. … You can take it or leave it, or you can just stay back.”

On Heterosexuality’s album cover and promo photos, Shamir is shirtless with horns on his head in a costume inspired by Baphomet, a mythological figure often portrayed as a Satanic deity. The photos, taken at Bartram’s Garden in West Philadelphia, make a point about how he’s viewed by society.

“I’m not part of the Satanic church, or any organized religion,” he says, with a laugh. “But I relate to the figure because it represents duality, and because that duality can make it appear to be grotesque.”

That connects to Heterosexuality songs like “Abomination” because “I feel that to the very straight world, as someone who sits at all these intersections — being nonbinary, being queer, being Black— my being seems grotesque. I often feel that as a Black queer person I can be demonized for just existing.”

And though Shamir doesn’t mean to diminish the seriousness of the symbolism, he also has a lighthearted motivation for dressing up as Baphomet. “I also think I look really cute with horns,” he adds, with a smile.

Heterosexuality grew out of a trusting relationship with Elger, whom Shamir met after the October 2020 release of his album Shamir, which included the brightly-hued indie hit “On My Own.”

When Shamir heard Hollow Comet’s industrial-tinged Exhibition EP, “I felt like that was the sound that I had been looking for. And since I didn’t have to worry about the production, I pushed myself to dig even deeper as a songwriter.”

Production-wise, Heterosexuality is more aggressive than Shamir’s previous, poppier work. “But the songs are still guitar-based,” Shamir says. Indeed, the musicality of “Cisgender” and “Reproductive” comes through beautifully in stunning, solo acoustic versions he performed during the Inquirer Live interview.

Shamir’s label, whose roster includes Philly psychedelic-folk guitarist Grant Pavol and transgender pop singer Macy Rodman, is called Accidental Pop Star. That’s a nod to how he was thrust into the spotlight in 2014 when Pitchfork said the 19-year-old had “the crackling adolescent soul of the teenage Michael Jackson.”

The whirlwind that ensued brought Shamir to New York to record his debut album Ratchet and electro-pop hit “On the Regular.” Before he knew it, he and Wayne Newton were opening for The Killers in the first show at Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena.

The pressures of sudden stardom were coupled with the singer’s sense that Rachet’s electronic sound misrepresented his authentic musical self that had been nurtured by his Aunt Mila, who taught him to love all genres of music.

He moved to Philly in 2015 after taking a Megabus from New York to see the indie-pop band Joy Again at a West Philly house show.

“I got engulfed in the Philly scene,” he says. “Nobody took themselves seriously here. Everybody takes themselves so seriously in New York.”

He struggled his first few years in town. “I had my first psychotic episode, and I got my bipolar diagnosis. But I always knew the trauma wasn’t because of Philly. I’ve always found that people in Philly will be very nice to you if you are nice to them. I love the city. It feels like home.”

Shamir intended to release Heterosexuality independently. That changed in November after Tom Sarig, the founder of AntiFragile who has previously managed Lou Reed and Le Tigre, heard “Cisgender.”

“He came across the song on Spotify and sent me the longest, sweetest letter,” Shamir says. " It was more than, ‘I want to sign you.’ It was, ‘I’m moved by this music, and I also have a label, and if you’re looking for one, I can help.’”

Shamir opened four shows for Courtney Barnett this year, but the tour was canceled the day it was supposed to play the Met Philly, due to a positive COVID-19 test in Barnett’s touring party.

Touring in the time of Omicron meant COVID-19 protocols had to be followed, and interaction with anyone outside the group was extremely limited.

Which was OK with Shamir. “I’m so used to having to be extroverted, but once we were on tour, I realized it was ideal for my introverted [self]. Me and the band, we were all fine because we’re all friends. it was perfect, actually.”

He’s looking forward to his MilkBoy show, and will tour later this year. But he hasn’t really missed the road.

“That’s one thing I admitted to myself that I kind of knew subconsciously already. It’s like, damn, two years without playing live! And you know what? I am very fine. I do like having a collectively shared moment with the audience. But that can be hard to facilitate …. I don’t thrive on attention, unfortunately.”