Trixie Mattel: crossing the country/music space, in drag
The ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ alum is bringing her big-hair-don’t-care glam to a genre you mightn’t think would be all too welcoming to her.
Brian Michael Firkus has the singer-songwriter gene, but you’ll more likely recognize Brian’s drag talents, performing as Trixie Mattel.
For now, that is.
The in-then-out-then-in-the-competition star who made it big on “RuPaul’s Drag Race” (and “All Stars” spin-off), has since had her own television shows, and has just released her second studio album, One Stone.
Only it isn’t the type of original music one would expect from a drag queen (which tends to be campy … “Sissy that Walk,” anyone?).
Metro had the pleasure of a catty chatty catch-up with Trixie following the release of One Stone and ahead of her 40-city nationwide tour.
For those uninitiated in ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race,’ what’s the pull of the show?
It’s called ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race,’ but what makes it addictive and popular to any audience is that the show’s about people following their dreams. It puts a spotlight on a group of people who have been doing this forever, but are only now getting mainstream recognition for their work.
So it’s not that different from our obsession with shows like ‘Idol,’ ‘The Voice’ and certain reality shows after all? Just with a whole more makeup than even Christina Aguilera?
Put the most die-hard homophobe in front of an episode of ‘Drag Race’ and they’ll be screaming ‘HAY GHURL! YASS QUEEN!’ by the end of it.
Talk about music, and breaking into an industry (singer/songwriter and country/western) which, to the casual observer, seems pretty far away from and potentially inhospitable to a drag queen.
Music is 40% how good you are and 60% how good you look. I’m a basic looking white guy with a guitar — b!tc#, please! It all becomes more exciting when you’re in a wig. I’m a musician, who just happens to be dressed up. I know I don’t look like a folk music performer.
In fact, I didn’t release my first album until 2017 because I didn’t think audiences would go for it. But here I am!
How do you handle any negative feedback, as you try to carve out your own niche?
You’re a f---ing idiot if you give a s--t about what people say about you.
Make strong choices. Be confident. That’s what looks good — and sounds good.
Do you think entering the world of country/western and folk as a man in a sequined dress ever works to your advantage in gaining an audience?
I see drag as a way to open doors. It’s the difference between being a tree in the woods, and a Christmas tree. A Christmas tree’s primped, decorated and ready to show off.
So your music isn’t just for fans of drag?
Gay people have appreciated drag for years, but you don’t have to be a homo to enjoy it. You can be a visitor to the culture. Same goes for country. I don't see a difference.
Who are your musical inspirations?
Emmylou Harris, Dolly Parton, June Carter Cash, and while we’re talking about it, there’s great inspiration in breaking into this genre to be taken from Charlie Pride.
Charlie Pride is an African American country music singer who gained fame and notoriety with an almost entirely white audience, in the age of Jim Crow (he made his first record in 1958), due to his label not allowing his image to be made public.
We’re all a lot more alike than we think.