Jade Elektra releases Disco Classic, “I Was Born This Way”
Best known for her underground New York club hits “Bitch You Look Fierce”, “Why Are You Gaggin’?”, “How Do I Look?” and “Trade”, Jade Elektra has released house music versions of songs previously recorded by Ike & Tina Turner (‘Proud Mary’), Lou Reed (‘Walk On The Wild Side’), Gladys Knight (‘If I Were A Woman’) and Billie Holiday (‘Don’t Explain’), among others. Elektra’s alter (male) ego DJ Relentless co-founded “Sunbeam Sundays” at Escuelita which ran from 1998 to 2011 and still holds the record for the longest running tea dance in New York City history
Recently Jade released 2 new tracks: “I Was Born This Way” and “Respect Yourself.” She transforms 1970s disco anthem famous for groundbreaking lyrics celebrating gay liberation into a modern, Queer Pride house music tour de force for the new millennium.
theBUZZ caught up with Jade Elektra to discuss her new music releases:
theBUZZ: Can you tell us what inspired you to release the album “Jade Does Ber’lin”?
Jade Elektra: Well, it’s not really an album. It’s more like a remix EP. The EP has remixes and edits of an idea I came up with for Pride 2013. After reading about the rise of gay bashings happening in New York City and around the US, I wanted to perform something to show solidarity with our LGBT allies fighting for their rights all over the world. So, I decided to do a live version of the Carl Bean classic, “I Was Born This Way”. But the lyrics seemed a little dated and I also wanted to drive home the point of respect. So, I decided to do a vocal mash-up into another 70’s R&B classic “Respect Yourself” by the Staple Singers.
I performed the song in Dundas Square and my husband recorded it. When I posted it on YouTube, I had no idea that it would have turned into this project. I was speaking to my friend and label owner, Cris Is Bliss and we talked about recording the song. We coordinated our schedules and held a recording session last September. My good friend DuQuincy Cooks came onto the project to help with the backing vocals, but the surprise during the session came when Cris called in legendary R&B vocalist and producer, Leroy Burgess to be my vocal coach.
theBUZZ: The song choices you made, “I Was Born This Way” and” Respect Yourself” have LGBTQ historical significance to them, can you tell us about that?
Jade Elektra: Well, “I Was Born This Way” definitely has a Queer History considering it was probably the first protest song for Gay Rights written by Bunny Jones and Chris Spierer. It was originally recorded by an artist named Valentino in 1975 on Gaiee Records, but was re-recording by Carl Bean in 1977 on Motown Records. “Respect Yourself” as far as I know has never been used for Gay Rights.
theBUZZ: How is your version of these songs different?
Jade Elektra: Well, since I am known for a genre of music called “Bitch Tracks”, my cover of these two classics is unique because I also put a section in of me doing a spoken word designed to raise awareness and hopefully interject some street wisdom. On the EP, each song is broken into separate tracks. There’s a special version called “Bitch This Way”. So, you see….it’s actually 3 songs in one.
theBUZZ: You have released these songs during a significant year for LGBTQ rights. Toronto hosting WorldPride and other parts of the world seeming to go backwards in regards to Queer rights. What influence do you think music has on the worldwide movement of LGBTQ rights?
Jade Elektra: Music is a universal language. And as DJ I watch people learn and understand messages in songs all the time. And trust me….it’s a lot easier to sing a revolution.
theBUZZ: How receptive have you found the LGBTQ community in Toronto to be to this type of music in general?
Jade Elektra: Well….some get it immediately while others just kinda get lost in the beats. The thing about the power of a DJ is knowing how to program new music. Once you get your audience to trust you (and with a few drinks in them), they’ll dance to anything. LOL
theBUZZ: Do you have any upcoming performances we can see you perform these songs live?
Jade Elektra: I am scheduled to perform the track at Nuit Blanche North in Huntsville this weekend. There’s talk that I might be booked for Atlanta Pride in the Fall.
theBUZZ: Where can you get “Jade Does Ber’lin”?
Jade Elektra: At the moment, it is available for pre-order on iTunes and Juno but on July 13th it will be available in all digital stores.
Catch Jade Electra performing live at Nuit Blanche in Huntsville, July 12rh. Also check out BUZZ TV for a sneak preview of “I Was Born This Way.”
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theBUZZ Features is written by theBUZZ editorial staff. Check back often for news on the latest LGBTQ arts, entertainment, and events.