By Laura Latzko, June 2018 Web Exclusive.
While Trixie Mattel is known for having an over-the-top look with bright makeup, excessive wig game and cosplay worthy costumes, there's another side of the . In a recent interview with Echo Magazine, the "RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars" Season 3 winner shared that she also tries to bring a greater depth to her work through her standup comedy and country music.
Mattel (aka Milwaukee native Brian Firkus) has spread her brand via many platforms since first appearing in RPDR Season 7 in 2015, including her gig co-hosting Viceland’s The Trixie & Katya Show with Katya Zamolodchikova and Bob the Drag Queen. (Read Echo’s interview with Katya here.)
On the heels of her latest release, One Stone (a seven-track country-inspired album), the drag star is bringing her "Moving Parts Tour" to Phoenix June 22.
Echo caught up with Mattel to find out more about her music, her comedy and her makeup, and here’s what she had to say.
Echo: Have you always been involved in music?
Mattel: I played a lot of Guitar Hero, then I picked up a guitar. Turns out, same thing.
Echo: When did you start playing guitar?
Mattel: I started playing when I was 13. My brother bought a guitar because he wanted to learn to play rock music and sucked so bad. I’m five years younger than him, so I took that. I really loved it.
Echo: Did you ever have any professional training or was it all self-taught?
Mattel: It’s all self-taught. It’s a great instrument for poor people from the woods because it’s cheap, and it doesn’t require a lot of intellect.
Echo: When you started playing, were you into rock like your brother or did you always lean toward country?
Mattel: He was into rock music, and I was into gay music. I liked Avril Lavigne. I remember learning to play "Complicated." It was one of the first songs I learned.
Echo: How did country music come into play?
Mattel: I grew up on country, and I always hated it. My grandpa listened to it, and I hated it. Then as an adult, at 24, it was a total 180. I was like, ‘Oh my God, this is the best music in the world.’ It was so obvious to me all of a sudden. I always thought it was boring and simple. Then, I realized how much depth it has.
Echo: How has your style and your sound evolved as a country artist, especially from Two Birds to One Stone?
Mattel: Two Birds was more late '50s radio country inspired. One Stone is a lot more late '60s folk revival. The songs are a lot less bright and a lot more moody and introspective.
Echo: How does your music contrast your look as a drag queen?
Mattel: It’s fun to watch crying clowns. I like to look very fabricated and put-on, but then present content that is very honest … When you are dressed up, people are more willing to go with you on whatever journey you are taking them on. You can be weirder and darker because you look so bright, fun and sweet.
Echo: On your tour, are you going to be performing a combination of music and comedy?
Mattel: My show is 70 percent comedy and 30 percent music … I do all of these costume changes, wig changes, videos and reveals … I like to do music and comedy, but still keep all of the pizazz of a drag show.
Echo: What's your strategy for balancing moody and introspective songs with your signature comedy?
Mattel: I love standup comedy, but I don’t like comedy music. I love earnestly singing and then transitioning in and out of jokes. I love stopping in the middle of a song to tell a story. If people in the audience yell something, I try to keep it interactive. It’s great because I never would have thought I could do comedy and music. I always thought I had to pick one or the other.
Echo: Did doing the Haters Roast Tour help to prepare you for your own tour?
Mattel: I tour all year. The Haters Roast, you do 15 minutes of insult comedy. My show is more standup and more musicianship. I play my harp. I play my guitar … I’m onstage five days a week. This tour has started, but it didn’t feel like a momentous thing because I’ve been touring five days a week, probably for three years. I like working a lot. I like being in drag every day.
Echo: With nonstop drag appearances, how do you keep your look it fresh? And how has it evolved a lot over the years?
Mattel: It used to be a little softer. Then, over the years, it started swinging harder and bigger. Bigger, blonder hair, more makeup, a smaller waist, bigger heels … When I started featuring my music, I started doing a Coachella/Woodstock Hippie Barbie sort of thing.
Echo: Coming up in the drag world, did you get criticism for your look? How did that inspire you?
Mattel: Oh my God. All the time. Now, it’s like a Pretty Woman moment. Everybody had a problem with it, and now it’s like, “Well, look at what you can do with it.” Sometimes, it’s a good thing to be weird.
Echo: Agreed. How have your fans responded to your the Moving Parts Tour thus far?
Mattel: Every night when I sing, no matter how loud we put the monitors on, I can always hear the audience singing all the words. I write my music in my underwear drinking Red Bull on the bathroom floor, so I definitely never think stuff like that’s going to happen … At the end of the show, I sing this song called Moving Parts, and it’s always cool because it is a “Come-to-Jesus” moment at the end of the show. You can hear the audience singing the song with me.
For more information, visit trixiemattel.com.
Trixie Mattel's Moving Parts Tour
8 p.m. June 22.
The Van Buren
401 W. Van Buren, Phoenix