For Big Freedia, it’s a simple mantra that gets her through and she calls it The Two P Solution-prayer and pushing. This mantra has helped rocket this this New Orleans supernova into the stratosphere, with an important documentary (Freedia Got A Gun) and a paperback version of her stellar autobiography (God Save The Queen Diva). I caught up with Freedia to chat about her career trajectory so far, what it has been like having someone like her mother be her biggest fan throughout her career, and she dropped plenty of inspiration for all the “little Freedias” out there today.
Michael Cook: Right off the bat, We are all starting to see who is touring and who is not this summer, and we are hoping that a tour reuniting Ke$ha and Big Freedia is going to be on a roster somewhere!
Big Freedia: I know, I am so ready you hear me? I am just ready to get back on the road and do what I love to do. I love bringing joy, light and love to people, and great energy. It has been a rough time; stuck inside so much. We rely a lot on touring and on touring income, it has been really rough this year. Hopefully things are about to start turning around…
MC: Whether you are appearing on television, recording music, or writing your memoir God Save The Queen Diva, the overarching message of Big Freedia is simply spreading the love and joy. For someone like you who is all about that interpersonal connection with others, this time must have been especially hard..
BF: It has been really complicated, but I am continuing to think of new ways to brand myself and keep myself busy and bring joy and light to people. I just started to think of things to do to entertain my fans. I came up with Whatcha’ Cooking Wednesday’s and Gospel Brunch on Sunday’s. That brought a lot of joy and light to people in their homes, and it taught some people how to cook and give them new recipes in the way that I do things. I am always just trying to find new ways to bring people joy and light. It has also been helping me in my own mind as we get through all this. It has been great to find new ways to just do different things.
MC: Your book God Save The Queen Diva is extremely honest and raw, and while some of the details might be challenging to relive, you nonetheless are very truthful. Has Big Freedia always been someone who has lived in complete truth?
BF: I have. Honestly, just growing up as a kid, I had to live in my truth to get where I needed to get and to become who I am. As I was growing up, I was still trying to figure out who I was and was living in my truth. As time went on and I had my mom as my biggest supporter who embraced me and helped me to figure out who I was, I have been just living in my truth. I knew early that I was gay and once I decided to tell my mom and she had my back, I’ve continued to live in my truth. That is what really has given me the power to move forward in life. Having her as my supporter. I didn’t need approval from anyone else in this world once I had the support of the person who bore me. That is what makes me be able to live in my truth.
MC: You, like so many other gay men, have a strong woman like your own mother who stands behind you. It is such a common thread with gay men that if we have those strong and powerful women in our corner, we can do almost anything!
BF: For sure! When you have family support, that is the biggest thing. When you have people around you in your family that are there to embrace you, you can get though anything. That is what helped me to get through anything.
MC: What is the one thing that you have done that your mother was absolutely floored and beyond proud that you accomplished in your career?
BF: Honestly, when I switched over to bounce music and when I stepped outside of New Orleans and started to travel the world, I think she was so proud to see me make these big accomplishments. To see me on the Billboard charts, to see have my own television show, there were so many different things that she was proud of me for. Just my journey, my hard work and determination to become bigger. I think that was a big move for me and she was just so proud; she has had so many moments where she could be a “proud mom” and see where I came from and where I had grown into. Definitely seeing the journey of her child on Billboard, on my own television show, setting the Guinness World Record (for twerking, in 2013) she was there for all of those moments.
MC: You are almost single-handedly credited with bringing bounce music out of New Orleans and making it a truly mainstream style of music that has developed a fanbase of its own nationwide. How does it feel to be behind that musical cultural shift?
BF: It feels really great. Just being that all of my hard work has started to pay off and I can see the fruits of my labor. It feels really good to represent for New Orleans and for the culture of bounce music. It makes me proud of what I do and it makes me work harder at my craft. It has grown this far and I want to continue to make it grow. My job is still not yet done; I continue to want it to grow even further, become even more mainstream and be on the charts. I still have goals and dreams that I want to see happen with the music. I am so grateful and honored to be at the forefront of it and to bring it around the world. Like I said though, the journey is still not yet over…
MC: It is almost like the culture is finally catching up to what you have been trying to say for quite some time…
BF: Oh yeah, most definitely. When someone else most definitely puts someone else onto the sound or connects them to a Big Freedia song, I say to myself “now they’re finally catching up” (laughs). I’ve been trying to tell you all for years…
MC: So many artists have utilized your artistry and your voice in their own material, but you have made it clear that you are going to be credited in this material, appearing in the video notwithstanding. What does it feel like to have artists like Ke$ha, RuPaul, & Beyoncé be such massive Big Freedia fans and even more so, have them counted as collaborators?
BF: Well, when you have artists of this magnitude that are fans of yours, it is such a great feeing. I never even knew that they were listening to me, any of these people. To find this out, it was just a great feeling. It blows your mind and you are very appreciative, I know I am. It’s like…wow, they are really a fan of mine. I mean, I am a fan of theirs but to have them be a fan of yours and you come under them and you grew up listening to them…it is something big and something special. I am just forever grateful.
MC: Specifically with RuPaul, having your music aired on RuPaul’s Drag Race, specifically during a ‘Lip Sync For Your Life’ (like the one with Shangela and Trixie Mattel during All Stars 3) opens your music up to a brand new audience, particularly a younger one. There probably are some little Big Freedias running around out there!
BF: Oh there definitely are, there are quite a few Freedias out there. Each day I hope to keep continue to inspire somebody to be themselves and see my story and want to tell their story and live in their truth. There are definitely a lot of Freedias out there…
MC: One thing about your book was the honesty. Whether talking about police brutality or the death of your brother, you speak very openly and honestly about these topics. Is it important for you to continue to speak about issues like police brutality and gun violence until we see the change we need?
BF: Most definitely. My documentary Freedia Got A Gun is what it is about. These issues are things that we are facing in my community every day. I still am trying to bring awareness to them, get results, and have some type of change happen. So yes, these are things that I want to see help to make some type of change happen. It affects my community, around the world and especially in black communities. We are trying to bring awareness to our local and national leaders with what is going on with police brutality, the gun laws and gun violence. These are things that are near and dear to my heart; I have been a victim of violence and my brother has been shot and killed due to this violence. I have seen many friends and family who have lost people due to violence here in New Orleans. That bothers me on so many different levels; I will continue to bring awareness to the situation.
MC: What message, mantra or phrase do you live your life by?
BF: People will always ask me, how do I get through, what is my solution to certain situations. I have my own thing that I came up with. I have something that I came up with and it’s called ‘The Two P’s’; prayer and pushing. I keep praying and I keep pushing; that’s it. I talk to God and get my strength that way and I keep pushing through any adversity that I have to face. ‘The Two P Solution’ is always my go-to.
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