BeBe Deluxe on Gender and Drag Culture - Tunes Tuesday Interview Transcript
Updated: Apr 6, 2022
Maud: Hi! I'm Maud Mostly, my pronouns are they/them, and welcome back to Tunes Tuesday, a weekly series where I interview queer 2SLGBTQ+ bands and musicians about their music, their experiences, and much much more. Today I am delightfully joined by BeBe Deluxe, a Florida-based hyper pop artist. How are you doing? Would you like to introduce yourself?
BeBe: Hi I'm BeBe Deluxe (Miss Deluxe if you nasty), my pronouns are she/her unless you're cute, and then my pronouns are still she/her! But I've never been hurt by a they/them, and I make I make electro pop in in in 2021. It's, it's very timely.
M: Amazing! So I really want to talk about your performance style first, because I actually discovered you through your performance at SnipFest, and I've also found this to be in your music videos, you perform with such high energy that just is absolutely captivating. So what or who inspired that performance style?
B: You know, I've been performing for years and years and years and you know, I grew up in club life so watching drag queens perform, and see the way that they keep the energy the entire time, and and I mean I'm inspired by artists like Cindy Lauper and you know I used to watch concert videos of like Gwen Stefani doing push-ups on stage, and you know, if Beyoncé can change her outfit that many times in the night while wearing heels, I can give a little bit in my performance. So yeah, I also feel like you know I'm this new wave of artists that doesn't necessarily play an instrument live, so you know if I'm not going to be sitting there playing the guitar playing the synths live at the same time, I might as well be giving y'all a show.
M: Absolutely! And do you feel like all that movement gives back anything to you as a performer? Like do you find that it pumps you up more, do you feel like it makes you more you know prepared, or excited to do it?
B: Yeah, I definitely have to push myself to like get in that zone especially with the online quarantine performances because performing in the room without an audience and you know, it's like, you’ve got to be on some you know you’ve got to be on some good vibes in order to like really make a dynamic, because it's no shade to any other performer everybody has their strengths and weaknesses. It's difficult to maintain an audience's attention when you're seeing a lot of the same things consistently and that's why I like to you know, I can't wait to get back out again and to really like feel the energy of a crowd and to you know, perform these songs on the road for people, that's really gonna- it's really gonna make all of it come alive for me even more.
M: Absolutely! So now to move on to the music behind these amazing performances. At the end of February you released your new single, Lucky, which you said was inspired by a time in your life where you felt like your mental health was out of control and you felt like nobody was listening. Can you share more about those feelings and what it meant to you to turn those feelings into such an upbeat song?
B: Yeah I, well just come inside into my backstory like how I got to where I am now is I was a nightlife drag entertainer for a decade and you know, everyone's definition of that is different, but basically I hosted a show every Friday night, sometimes every Friday and Tuesday night, sometimes every Tuesday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday and you know, it was going really well, and I had a following, and I had consistent gigs, and then I kind of started experiencing a lot of very severe gender dysphoria. Realizing that I was not a gay man dressing as a woman, I was a trans woman, metaphorically stuck in this big machine of expectation from people to be this big bubbly like party clown creature that I just grown out of you know I got into drag as a way to make peace with my gender dysphoria that I couldn't even identify as that when I was younger and you know, back when I was young it was you know you got a little bit turnt with girlfriends, you did your makeup for like two hours, and you went out and took photos of each other at a bar and got hammered, and said “oh no nobody could take me in this outfit” you know? It was a lot simpler and then when it became my career I noticed that I needed to always maintain this cheery disposition you know? Drag queens trans women often end up becoming these like, idol like representations of what people think about transness like like especially in gay clubs and stuff and it's like “oh worship the dolls, worship the dolls” but it's like y'all don't really actually see us as human sometimes you just see us as like staff or you know, just these untouchable things to look at and to see and if we ever were to do something you disagreed with, you would tear us down and remind us exactly who we are. And that's, and I grew up I'm of the Britney generation and I grew up watching Britney and seeing that she- Britney Spears for anyone who didn't realize what's talking about Brittany Horowitz you know with the council receivable but I, “Britney Spears is lucky” was a major inspiration for the song because I've been following Britney my entire life and seeing the Free Britney movement manifest is really fantastic and I hope she gets the happiness she deserves, but I saw a lot of the feelings that I was having being BeBe Deluxe the drag entertainer was similar to things that she's been expressing for years that like you know if I cry too little I'm a stone, if I cry too much I'm a fake, if I don't laugh at your stupid joke then then you're gonna tear me down, you know, the the one line that sticks with me from that song is “pressure be the news, expectation be the rope, my inhibitions can't cut loose, my inspiration's losing hope” because at that time I truly felt like I couldn't produce anything of value anymore because I was just stuck being this, I used to compare it to being like a costume character at a theme park you know? You're there to hold the expectations of these people who want escapism, and it's like where is my escapism if I'm at work when everyone else is escaping?
M: Absolutely! I appreciate you being so vulnerable, and you know so honest with all of that and I guess that takes it to the second part is you know with all these complex feelings that you were going through through this like struggle and through that moment you know, you turn that all into this song that people can dance to, that people can be happy to you know? Was that a healing process for you when you were creating it?
B: Absolutely. I think being my own personal identity if you can go beyond gender I've always been a very conflicted person and the trans experience is full of such great contrasts and me just existing standing, I was talking to someone about this recently you know it's like when you're super queer, when you're trans, (I can only speak from my experience of being someone who is assigned with a penis at birth because I don't I don't actually care for that AMAB/AFAB term, it's not the team for me.) I was given a penis at work and I say I was given penis at work! Let me answer that question again, okay... ooh sorry. I made the choice to make Lucky a more upbeat song just because I've always felt like my life was full of contradictions, and contrast. Growing up trans, you know being a young trans girl growing up and not realizing I was trans it's like you know, I remember being three years old and wanting to you know, wear girls clothes and play with barbie dolls, and I wanted to be a girl and you know, a little boy walking around with a barbie doll before I even had any awareness of any of these things I was a political discussion. I had, I had, I was existing I couldn't just be a three-year-old doing what a three-year-old wanted to do I had to be a topic of discussion, a topic of concern, and I don't think people realize that when you're trans you carry that weight the rest of your life, and um so I don't think of myself as masculine feminine, I just think of myself as myself, but I don't live in a vacuum people perceive me as masculine feminine it's the first thing that comes out of people's mouths and I don't dislike the term I don't, I don't rebuke it but I you know it's like “all right let's talk about it” says y'all what about so much. So my existence has always felt in between something not quite one thing, not quite another, so it makes perfect sense to write about very devastating harmful hurtful negative self-talk that I'm actually experiencing authentically and to put it on a dance track, because people want to dance to get away from things that hurt but people want to be felt and seen if you think about Robyn's Dancing On My Own, that is the tears on the dance floor anthem to end all tears on the dance floor, so I think that the most healing thing for people like me is the dance floor and um you know I wrote a lot of my music that I wrote in 2020 that i'm slow dripping throughout 2021 because it's the kind of things that I want to experience on a dance floor when we get back to it. I want to cry, I want to laugh I, want to get goosebumps, and yell at the dj to play the song again because it was too short, yeah.
M: Absolutely! That's amazing to hear and again, I just I really appreciate you know, the authenticity you're bringing here it's really incredible to you know hear the stories you're sharing, because I know they're relatable to just so many of us. But getting into you know, the last question in the spirit of you know, what Tunes Tuesday is, this year you've challenged yourself to create and release a playlist once a month that features queer indie artists across genres. So why did you create this challenge for yourself and what motivates you to continue?
B: That's a wonderful question, thank you for bringing up! So I have always had an element of building a community, because communities aren't always just gonna exist for you you know when I um, I don't I don't call myself a drag queen anymore, I don't feel like a drag queen anymore, that's that's not how I identify, but that's where I come from and you know doing drag ten, eleven years ago there weren't no spots for no hairy queens who sang live music, I had to make those spots, and you don't make those spots by yourself you make those spots for meeting other people who are doing the same thing you're doing or like “hey, the system don't want me neither, let's make our own system.” The cisdom don't want us so we're gonna make our own, and so you know, it goes with my own plan. I'm challenging myself to release a single and a music video every month this year, and I know plenty of queer artists who are doing the same thing, so if I can um stretch the reach of other people while stretching my own reach, and reminding people like “hey stream my music, but don't just stream my music stream all these lovely people's music too,” like challenge your playlists and I, you know I think we're always permanently in this middle school mindset of like being embarrassed about the music we listen to. We should love all, we we we shouldn't have any kind of hang-ups, or shame on the opposite end of that coin you know go beyond what you're accessing from mainstream channels like babies, I love Lady Gaga, I love Ariana, I love Beyoncé, I love all the girls, I listen to all the girls, I bump all the girls, but there are some indie stuff there are people who have less than 300 monthly listeners on Spotify that I listen to every day, because the songs slap so if you know if you have Spotify listen to your discover weekly, if you see an artist plugging their song, go listen to their music like even if you don't vibe with the music, just try to listen to the music is is my thing. Or you know we can't keep collectively listening to the same seven songs we listen to junior year of high school for the rest of our life. I will write new songs that sound just like those songs for you, you'll have a good time. It was it was somewhere it was somewhere when like um last year spotify told me in 2020 I listened to over 500 new artists and I was like “work, I really did!” because I just- you just listen to your discover, and you find brand new things and you know, nothing feels better than being heard and, and we are more powerful always humans as a unit than we are individuals, so that's that's that's why I try to you know I try not to feature anybody on the playlist that is too huge but like if I like the song I'm about the song so you'll see like Rico Nasty on there, Daft Punk, Sophie… oof, tough year if you like computer music.
M: Absolutely and I really appreciate everything you're saying about community, it is so true and I also you know I know that I am part of the app system where it's kind of like you decided you know middle school early high school, this is the music I'm gonna listen to and it can be really hard to let that go, but you know when it comes to supporting musicians particularly queer artists who you know, we're seeing more of now and need our support, it really is on us to push ourselves out of that loop and you know leave that comfort zone. Well, if you would like to listen to any of those playlists or listen to BeBe Deluxe's music check out her videos, support her on social media, you can find all of that in any of the links below. Thank you so much for joining me today, this was an incredible discussion, I am so thankful to have you here, and BeBe Deluxe will be playing us out.
*Lucky by BeBe Deluxe begins playing*