With their brand of futuristic queer pop, Dorian Electra is one of a special group of artists pushing the industry into new spaces. After releasing their latest single, ‘Man To Man’, last week, Electra chats with CelebMix.
“I’m obsessed with everyone transforming into the Grinch this season”, Electra chuckles to begin with. They have just announced ‘Dorian Electra’s Queer Christmas Party’ in their hometown of Houston, co-hosted by none other than Electra’s very own parents (“like literally the ppl who raised me” they reassure in an Instagram post).
It’s creativity and charisma like that which has marked Dorian Electra out as one of the most exciting voices in underground pop today. Their latest single, ‘Man To Man’ is a piece of subversive electro pop gold.
“It’s inspired by certain aspects of 80s pop production, it tries to direct those in a more futuristic fresh way with a lot of vocal production that plays with my gender. I do a lot of that format shifting myself to make my voice sound more masculine then I’ll do something that is really feminine. I get bored of singing one way and switch to the other, that’s really becoming my style.”
“‘Man To Man’ plays with masculinity and femininity and testosterone and masculine aggression and sensitivity and trying to find the balance between all of those things.”
‘Man To Man’ comes with a knockout, music video too. Electra’s artistic eye is in every minute of the video. In addition to directing and producing, they also came up with over 25 unique looks for themselves, the dancers and extras. Sporting a series of athletic costumes and traditionally male outfits, it’s the perfect gender-challenging visual to accompany the bubbling single.
“For me, the styling was really important to do myself because I had such a strong idea. Fashion and how you use clothing to express your gender or subvert gender or emphasise certain parts of your physical form, then playing with that…”
“…My performance is going to be really shaped by what I’m going to wear. When I’m in the studio and writing the song, I’m always imagining what I am going to wear in the video and how I’m going to move my body.”
It all adds up. Electra’s stage presence is second to none. Their high-energy performances of ‘Femmebot’ with Charli XCX have whipped the latter’s sold-out mixtape shows into a frenzy, their headbanging at close-quartered afterparties to ‘Career Boy’ has become a trademark flick and the effervescent ‘VIP’ is always delivered with a bang. When you go to a Dorian Electra show one thing is for sure – you’re in for a high-energy night.
Electra speaks of how important it is to have that energy in the studio too. Where some artists take themselves off to a luxury hut in the middle of nowhere for writing camps, Electra is heading to Las Vegas in January to continue work on their upcoming album.
“We were going to do it in LA but there are too many distractions with my daily life. I was thinking about getting some place out in the woods or in the desert, but that’s so not me. I love and respect nature so much, but that doesn’t really inspire me.”
“Las Vegas is just the most inspiring, weird, hyper-real mash-up of culture and history. Walking through this fake Roman coliseum of Venetian canal… it’s like if aliens tried to re-create our worlds in a small model version. A lot of people hate Vegas but I’m very contrarian in nature. If people hate something, I normally think it’s cool.”
Electra is taking their favourite producers and longtime creative collaborators, MoodKiller and Weson Allen, with them. Electra reveals that they are keen to make the album a visual one, with a video for each track – being an artist is so much more than just the sonics for them.
Their desire to switch things up and challenge pop of the past is one shared with Electra’s friends in the industry. Moving in the same circles as the likes of Charli XCX, Allie X and Leland, they all recently collaborated to pull off The Billy Ball – a fundraising night to help fellow queer artist Billy Clayton’s fight against cancer. You can donate to help Billy’s cause here.
“Allie went to Charli and said we should totally do something where we put all the money towards Billy Clayton. Allie told me about it and we got other artists to do it. The list kept growing until we had an insane amount, 22 people!”
“We were in a 1500 capacity venue and the fan response was amazing. The vibe of the night was super cool. All these queer artists coming together to support this other queer musician, Billy. Even though people didn’t know him there was this amazing supportive vibe.”
There’s a real feeling that what those artists are doing is changing pop music for the better. Their refreshing attitude towards music and shows is creating a live music atmosphere that is electrifying.
“Pop music used to just mean music that was popular and it is still that but there’s also a sound and a vibe – it’s catchy and upbeat and fun but can also be emotional. It’s interesting to see how the definition of pop is shifting and changing when it’s not just about which songs are performing well on the radio. There’s so much variety. You can be a pop star in a small circle and no one can recognise you in the street, but you still have a huge following.”
“I feel so connected to the fans, especially the younger fans and seeing how open they are and how they are part of this queer community, online if they are not able to at home. It’s so special and it’s been so special seeing Charli embrace that this year. Shouting out the pride flags when she opened for Taylor Swift. I was like, that’s bold. Most of the moms probably voted for Donald Trump. It’s a really special time that we are in right now, it’s really exciting.”
That relationship between Electra and Charli XCX is a special one. The two’s friendship and chemistry is evident to see on stage and Dorian has helped organise Charli’s infamous aftershow parties throughout 2018.
“Charli is so inspiring and one of the nicest people I’ve ever worked with. She’s so important. She straddles all of these lines between mainstream pop, having big radio hits, being in this underground club scene in the queer community but then also high profile celebrity stuff and being part of the songwriting world. She’s a common overlap in the music industry and people are watching her to see what she is doing.”
“I’ve noticed already that so many artists are doing the mixtape thing after she started doing it. Of course, that originates from rap, we shouldn’t forget those origins of it, but applying that format to pop music and doing something that is more off the cuff, experimental and collaborative is so freeing to see. You can do something like that and create a huge cult hit.”
Despite a non-stop 2018 across the world, Electra is already ready to take 2019 by storm. Following the Las Vegas writing trip they promise more shows, “the main thing that I do is performing”. The album will come and, going off the treats that ‘Man To Man’, ‘VIP’ and ‘Career Boy’ have been, it’s impossible to put into words just how mouthwatering the prospect of that record is.
Have you checked out Dorian Electra’s music video for ‘Man To Man’? Let us know your thoughts @CelebMix on Twitter!