Exclusive Interview with Trixie Mattel, who has released a new album, and wrote a book with Katya
Trixie Mattel has turned her success as the winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars into pop culture gold, also co-creating and starring in the wildly successful comedy web show UNHhhh, with fellow Drag Race alum Katya Zamolodchikova, that was later adapted into the Viceland program The Trixie & Katya Show. The pair also collaborated on I Like To Watch for Netflix’s YouTube channel, and have penned a book together as well, Trixie and Katya’s Guide to Modern Womanhood, to be released July 2020. She’s also the subject of the documentary Trixie Mattel: Moving Parts which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival last spring, and she also recently released her new comedy special Trixie Mattel: Skinny Legend. Wow, does she ever stop?
Nope, she doesn’t. Now there’s something new from Trixie to add to your record collection while you self-isolate at home. For years, Trixie has broken boundaries not only for drag performers in the music world, but also for LGBTQ+ artists in the genres of country, folk and Americana. Her newly released third album, Barbara is laid out to reflect a vintage double-sided album. Side A features a plugged-in late ’60s/early ’70s vibe, while side B hearkens back to the introspective folk sound that took Trixie to the top of the charts on her second LP, One Stone. This new two-part collection of songs will transport you to a surf party one second, and to a fireside beach singalong the next.
Album highlights include first single “Malibu,” which Billboard called “a surf-rock jam complete with plugged-in guitars, a hand-clap chorus and some strong summer vibes,” her sugary ode to her celebrity crush Jesse Eisenberg on the aptly titled “Jesse, Jesse”, and a touching cover of LGBTQ+ country music trailblazing act Lavender Country’s “I Can’t Shake The Stranger Out Of You” (retitled “Stranger”), a devastating lovelorn examination of the complexities of sexual intimacy in the gay community.
theBUZZ had a chance to chat with Trixie about what keeps that Energizer Bunny going!
What’s the significance behind the name of your new album, Barbara?
“Barbara” translates to “strange woman.” No woman is stranger than a man in a wig.
The music is quite diverse, as our the lyrics. Is there an overall theme throughout that you were trying to relay? This album is very California! Bright and sunny- you can see the astroturf and taste the pink hi-ball in your hand.
You released the album on vinyl. What’s the reasoning behind that, and how have sales been so far?
Well I’m excessively rich so I don’t really check the statements (aka I paid for this album myself and I am so lucky it sold well LOL) Also wow people love vinyl! I only own a few Dolly records but collectors are hardcore!
As a comedian, musician, and drag performer, how to you combine the crossover, and also keep them separate when you have to?
There’s an amazing line from the film Don’t Tell Mom The Babysitter’s Dead where Sue Ellen’s boss goes “And Sue Ellen? Don’t be overwhelmed. Just do one thing at a time.”
Do you have any formal music training background, educational or through a mentor?
Well I learned guitar at home but I also went to college and got a BFA in Musical Theatre. That’s when I pivoted and turned gay.
Do you play any other instruments beyond guitar, or would like to learn?
I love playing my autoharp and I occasionally play my clarinet. I always wanted to learn banjo!
How did the connection with Lavender Country happen?
Fans used to tell me about him and I found him on itunes! I heard Patricks iconic debut record and fell in love with his songs. What a legend.
Any other musicians you’d like to collaborate with or cover?
Well I have a lifelong obsession with Michelle Branch and I’ve made that abundantly obvious my whole life. I also love Miley and I’ve always wanted to write her a song.
Do you personally have a favorite track?
My favorite track is Gold! It’v very mushy but I think it’s such a pretty song.
In terms of rescheduling the cancelled/postponed tour for the album, are there any talks as yet as to whether this may still happen down the road?
All of my tour dates are rescheudled to 2021! So the shows will happen the same we just will all have quarantine bodies.
Do you work with opening acts for your live music shows?
My go-to opener is usually Tammie Brown but I often design my shows to be a one “woman” experience.
You have a long standing BFF relationship with Katya. Was that sort of instant at first meet up?
Not really. Usually people who are that beautiful in drag aren’t that funny but wow she is a psycho.
It’s since developed into a career move for the both of you, creating shows (UNHhhh. I Like To Watch, Trixie and Katya, etc). What’s the real connection between you two that just makes this click? I think it’s clear that even with no cameras in the room, we are just trying to make each other laugh.
I also saw you have a collaborative book coming up next month. Tell me all about that as well.
Well we wanted to make a paperweight for your more important books and we thought it would be cohesive if the paperweight looked like a book. Voila!
You have an extensive Barbie doll collection. How many? Any favorites?
I love my African American Francie doll from the 60’s. Very hard to find and so so beautiful!
In yet another entrepreneurial move, you created Trixie Cosmetics last year. What inspired you to venture into retail, and how’s that going? Top selling products so far?
I worked in cosmetics for five years before doing drag full time so I used to watch people shop for makeup for 40 hours a week! I learned that drag queens and boring people all want the same thing- we want good products that work well and are fun to use. I would say Maliblu our eye-safe blue glitter is a favorite. People really like to look like whores.
Any future aspirations? A fashion line perhaps?
I have always wanted to have an ice cream truck! I make ice cream at home- during quarantine I’ve made five liters and ate them all. I am a creature.
Any words of wisdom for aspiring drag performers?
Be yourself. Crossdressing is still punishable by law in many parts of the world so remember how you are dressing up for everyone who can’t.
As someone who continues to rise over various platforms, what do you feel the secret to success is, and do you feel there an expiration date on being a successful DQ?
My assistant Brandon says “don’t talk about it- be about it.” Also I think it’s important to make art for the people who love your art, not the people who hate it.
Watch Trixie in the studio with Lavender Country’s Patrick Haggerty during the recording of “Stranger”.
Listen to her chat about the new album with host Ari Shapiro on NPR’s All Things Considered: “Trixie Mattel Balances Genre, History And Humor On ‘Barbara’”
‘Barbara’ Tracking Listing
1. “Malibu” **
2. “We Got The Look” ^^
3. “Girl Next Door” **
4. “Jesse Jesse” ++
5. “Gold” ++
6. “I Don’t Have A Broken Heart” ++
7. “I Do Like You” ++
8. “Stranger” ##
++ written by Trixie Mattel
** co-written by Trixie Mattel & Nick Goldston
^^ written by Ashley Levy of the Blah Blah Blahs
## written by Patrick Haggerty and Robert Hammerstrom (of Lavender Country)
Barbara is released via PEG Records is a division of Producer Entertainment Group, an LGBTQ-focused management company representing many of today’s biggest drag artists. Listen here, and order your copy here.
Beyond entertainment Trixie has venture into the world of fashion, creating Trixie Cosmetics, that aims to bridge the gap between a youthful fun irreverent spirit, and high quality products. Trixie recently was named one of the OUT100 personalities, made an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, wrote a guest-essay for NPR, and had numerous other appearances throughout the media landscape, including Vogue, Rolling Stone, Billboard, Vanity Fair, Entertainment Weekly, GQ, and more.
About the Author
Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist with a focus on travel, lifestyle, entertainment and hospitality. He has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors and other public personalities. He enjoys discovering delicious eats, tasting spirited treats, and being mesmerized by musical beats.