Quarantine has been trying for all of us, but Monet X Change has been taking her downtime and creating some pretty revolutionary art. From her always polarizing and much needed conversations on the podcast she shares with Bob the Drag Queen, “Sibling Rivalry” to her brand new single & video, the extremely timely “March”, X Change continues to be one of our communities loudest voices. I caught up with Monet post-New York City Pride to discuss quarantine, community activism, and how queens all over the country are finally feeling that their voices are being heard.
Michael Cook: This year was a very different Pride indeed; how was a very different New York City Pride this year for you?
Monet X Change: I think it’s very strange, but I believe we are all doing our best to still be as prideful as possible. I did the ABC broadcasting of the Pride parade down Christopher St & I did a segment with Carson Kressley. Then I got to premiere the video for “March”.
MC: Speaking of, the video for “March” is truly the kind of material we need as a community right now. Tell me about the thinking behind this revolutionary protest anthem.
MXC: Well, I think it is basically what it is with queer people, we are always pushing ourselves to be super creative and stepping outside the realms of what we are allowed to do, making our own ways and our own paths. I have seen that in a lot of virtual drag shows, I mean, drag queens dressed up in cockroach costumes coming out from under the cabinet singing “La Cucaracha” and it is now a crazy drag number. These are the things that as artists, we are always doing, always pushing the boundaries and always finding different ways to be heard. With “March”, it was commissioned by ABC and NYC Pride. Vincent Cooper told me about the opportunity and he sent me the track, lyrics and song. I said I would do it, but I don’t want to do “that”. I reached out to Eritza Laues and Christopher “Cannon” Map, who helped me write my first EP Unapologetically. We went over to the house on a Friday and wrote and recorded the song in thirteen hours. From there, we got it mixed and mastered over the weekend, they had the track by Monday, recorded the video on Tuesday and now here we are. It was a really fast turnaround, but I am really happy with the finished product.
MC: Mila Jam is featured in the video prominently and you always make a point to feature trans POC performers in your art, and it sets you apart from other performers.
MXC: I think especially now more than ever, we seeing a beautiful intersection of pride and of Black Lives Matter. I love how both communities are finally embracing each other. It is no secret that with our communities, there has been some discourse between the two. I find it so strange when marginalized communities are not into each other; it’s like…girl, our struggles are similar and parallel in many ways. The fact that we are seeing change effected for both I think is really dope. I wanted to feature black trans person because often in the news, we see them beaten up, bloodied, and murdered. I wanted to really celebrate really positive and inspiring images of a trans people.
MC: We have seen in Philadelphia and in Chicago, some Town Halls for performers of color who are demanding to be paid their worth and that they be treated fairly. Do you think we have reached a tipping point where this behavior is finally not okay and will not be tolerated any longer?
MXC: I think it has never been okay, I think people are now feeling emboldened to speak truth to power. I think in scenes like Chicago, these queens have probably felt this way for a long time. They just did not feel like they had a voice or could speak out; for fear of not working, for fear or not being able to do their art. I think now, people are having the courage and feel that if they speak, people will listen. Some people’s biggest fear is speaking and no one is listening, I think that these artists are noticing that everyone is listening now; and they are saying “here is what I really think and I want it to change.” And people are really listening to what they have to say.
MC: You and Bob the Drag Queen run the gamut of topics to discuss on your podcast Sibling Rivalry, talking about everything from hilarious real-life stories to some of the most serious topics addressing the community and the country today. Was that a conscious choice when you started the show to make sure you discussed issues that are important to you both?
MXC: I think Sibling Rivalry was birthed because we wanted people to hear the conversations that we have all of the time. Nothing that we talk about on Sibling Rivalry is ever like “today we want to talk about….”. Bob and I would have these conversations all the time for hours and hours at a time, whether we hate each other in the moment, or love each other, it has always just been that. We were literally just thinking about having normal conversations that we always have, and we added a microphone. The microphone is the only new addition to these topics for us.
MC: It’s been a crazy few months, but for you what has changed the most during quarantine?
MXC: Honestly, one of the things that I will look at different is meet and greets. I was always the person who at the meet and greets would hug and kiss and kiki and touch, but I think we all know that has to change, we just can’t function the same way. Even though I would love to get back to the meet and greet space, that kind of gives me the most pause. I am just excited to go back out and be on the stage and performing. Yes, it is cute to sit in your two bedroom apartment in the hallway and chaîné turn and pas de boureee’ into the wall, but it will be nice to be on stage and do it for people who are really excited to see you perform, as opposed to the little lens on my MacBook (laughs)