Interview: Trixie Mattel
::: SPOILER ALERT :::
American singer-songwriter Trixie Mattel found fame on the seventh season of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Aside from her comedy credentials on the Viceland show that she shares with Katya Zamalodchikova; Trixie somehow finds the time to be a successful musical performer. Having been crowned this past week as winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars: Season 3, and on the eve of album One Stone being released, we caught up with Trixie to discuss the record, Dolly Parton’s lesbian lover and life as an All Star.
Rachael Scarsbrook: Hi Trixie. How are you doing and where does our interview find you today?
Trixie Mattel: I’m in bed eating ice cream. I’m hungover and playing Playstation. Do I sound like a champion yet?
RS: First things first, are you still reeling from potentially the biggest shock elimination in Drag Race herstory?
TM: As a friend, I was like “No! Stay and fight!” But as a competitor I was like “BYE GIRL SEE YOU SOON.”
RS: Your album ‘One Stone’ shines a queer light over the world of country music, is that angle something that you experienced as a younger person living in Wisconsin?
TM: I’m just a boring human adult person. My music isn’t about Trixie or being gay or crossdressing. I write about love, disappointment, and reflection. Human things. I don’t think my music sounds gay the same way a heterosexual artist’s work sounds straight. WAIT Nickelback definitely sounds straight.
RS: There are so many different facets to your persona, how does it feel to juggle so many successful areas at such a professional level?
TM: I’m a piece of shit from hell. And I’m a control freak. With Trixie Mattel I get to be the judge, jury, and executioner. I get to style the hair, make the costume, write the jokes, compose the music, etc. It’s not difficult to juggle. I would have a harder time letting someone else take the reins!
RS: Drag Race continues to be one of the most culturally significant shows around, what’s it like being such a stalwart and integral part of that phenomena?
TM: I can’t believe you used the word stalwart. It’s cool because I’m weird even by drag queens standards. So to be largely accepted as a face of this whole drag phenomenon is unexpected. But as the kids say, YOLO.
RS: During season 7, you encountered your now co-host on UNNNHHHH – Katya – the two of you are now so close personally and professionally, did it ever occur to you that you might find such a kindred spirit?
TM: Katya is a perfect Yin to my Yang. She’s so weird and brilliant. Her mind churns out the most amazing things. Our show The Trixie and Katya show on VICELAND is great because it’s based on our chemistry. And now with Bob The Drag Queen!
RS: I’ve always wanted to know, what do you do on drag race when you’re not doing challenges and filming?
TM: You eat fruit snacks and try not to cry. Your friends are being picked off one by one, you’re finding your light and monologuing about your dead mom, and right when you think you’re going to break… someone hands you a granola bar and you know you can survive ten more minutes.
We also have off on the weekends and I would play my autoharp and furiously masturbate to youtube videos of bodybuilders. It’s bleak.
RS: One Stone is the follow up to Two Birds, both great albums; when did music and drag begin to crossover for you and how did people first react when you started doing both together?
TM: I’ve played guitar since I was 13. I always envisioned Trixie as a comedian, but I never considered weaving my songwriting in to my standup sets. When I started combining music AND comedy at 25, it was like an instant lightbulb moment. People would sit through my hour long comedy show and at the end of the night tell me their favorite part was the ballad I weaseled into the section about breakups. I am only good at making people laugh or cry.
RS: There has been a lot of commentary recently about whether or not some drag is more valid than others, do you think it reduces the community to infighting when differences should be something to be celebrated?
TM: To quote The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, “remember who the real enemy is.”
RS: The music that you make and sing sets you apart from a lot of what people would expect from a drag queen, do you still get nervous when picking up your harp or guitar at your shows?
TM: I don’t get nervous! I love doing standup and it’s a great way to pull your audience in for a song moment. I’m more nervous I’ll trip in my cheap pumps and smash my $6k guitar.
RS: You’ve said before how drag makes you more happy to be you afterwards, is the separation from your stage persona a breath of fresh air after such intense shows/appearances?
TM: I love being Trixie! And I love not being Trixie. When I go out with my boyfriend on dates, I wear a baseball cap and glasses and try to really disconnect from work, comedy, etc. It’s important to me when I’m with him to make it about him and not Trixie.
RS: On Red Side Of The Moon it feels like it could be interpreted as a relationship between two women, which made me wonder where the ideas for your songs come from and how they come to fruition through song?
TM: Red Side Of The Moon is about loving someone who is in the public eye and the distance it can create in a relationship. I drew from my own love life, but I wrote about two women because I am fascinated that people seem convinced that Dolly Parton has a lesbian lover.
RS: One Stone is a very powerful album, but is only seven tracks long – are there plans for more (and hopefully longer) albums from you in future?
TM: Of course! I love short things though. Short series, short songs, etc. In just this year, I’ve self-released two EPs, a christmas album, and a single. I’ve also done two TV series and toured two standup shows. Let me eat my pizza for five minutes -sheesh!
Even though Trixie is such a larger than life personality, One Stone carries a lot of sincere feeling; was the juxtaposition something that was planned or did they just flow into each other as you became more certain of drag as a career.
Even though Trixie is a produced facade, I find my audiences really respond to the way I draw from my real life in my comedy and my music. There’s something compelling about someone very made up and fabricated presenting material that is very real and honest. Sort of like a crying clown.
RS: If you could shine a spotlight on a local or under the radar queen, who would it be and why?
TM: Oh my god- my new obsession is Auntie Chan from Chicago! Her music video for “I’m SO Into Voguing Right Now” by Adam Joseph is literally life changing.
One Stone by Trixie Mattel is out now.