Last month on a whim I traveled up to Herald Square to witness Big Freedia's
orchestration of the world's largest congregation of simultaneous twerkers
. Since first hearing about the Queen Diva of New Orleans Bounce following a tour with Postal Service, where negative crowd criticism provided Freedia with ample positive media support, I've watched from afar as the hip-hop artist has steadily gained an enormous following. The arresting, high-tempo beats and popping asses have taken Big Freedia from sub-culture icon to countercultural phenomenon.
After speaking with Big Freedia following the Wednesday night premiere of Fuse's new reality show Queen of Bounce
, I learned that embedded within this eccentric character whose heart is set on world domination is an individual who hopes to be an inspirational role model and a symbol of gay acceptance.
I just watched last night's episode. How did the premiere go? What was it like to watch that finally on TV?
It was amazing. I got to enjoy the episode with my entire family. We had the premiere party at my mom's house and it was my birthday, so yesterday was really special for me, and we made history last month.
It seems to me that even though it's a reality show, the storyline could go in many different directions. Can you give us any hints what it's going to focus on, whether it's your tour and/or your family life in New Orleans?
It's half and half, both the family and the tour; it goes back and forth because I'll be interacting with my family while I'm on tour.
What was the experience like filming the historic twerkathon at Herald Square?
It was such an amazing time. We got to hang out in the middle of New York and make hundreds of people twerk.
It was one of the craziest things I've seen in New York, which is pretty impressive! You've been around for quite some time, but not in our scene, Baeble covers more indie-focused music, and you popped up on our radar when you were touring with The Postal Service. Can you tell me a bit about that tour and what that experience was like?
That was a great experience! It was two very different worlds colliding together. I was very excited that The Postal Service took me and let me open up for them. That was amazing, I got to meet a lot of different people and I picked up a lot of fans, but we had some critics. The Postal Service loved us and we loved them. The fans loved us too, so we had a good time with them, as well.
It seemed like everyone got pissed at the critics -
- but in this case the bad press turned into good press for you, which was pretty interesting to witness. What are your thoughts on how that went down?
Because I was really busting my ass on The Postal Service tour and so many people had a good time and I would interact with the crowd. Overall, we won the crowd over. All the fans that love us so much turned all the critics' negativity and made it into something positive, and that's what it's about.
After I shared the photos from the Herald Square event, it was evident that you have a pretty ravenous following, and an incredibly strong, local fan base in New Orleans, but are there any other cities that you feel particularly welcomed in?
New York, LA, Atlanta, Chicago - they love me and my music and they support me.
Do you feel like your bounce movement is catching on?
You described your tour partnership with the Postal Service as a clashing of two worlds, and it seems that this is prevalent in your audience diversity. How does it feel to be such a unique artist who appeals to so many different people?
Well, it's amazing to bring all those different walks of life together. All of us are under one roof and having a good time together and being able to express ourselves through music. It's an amazing feeling to be one of the artists that is able to do this. Being black and from New Orleans, it's something really special to me and it makes me happier than anything else in the world to have this diverse crowd. I work really hard, so it's an amazing feeling.
Your audience can get pretty involved and it can get pretty crazy. What's the wildest thing you've ever seen happen at one of your shows? Maybe something that Fuse wouldn't be allowed to show...
Two years ago, this lady at the club had this sixteen inch pole in the middle of the field and she was popping off the pole and slipping and the crowd was just losing their minds. She was way in the back of the crowd until she jumped and climbed on the pole somehow and I had the entire crowd turn around to see her, it was so amazing.
It seems like you want to be recognized worldwide and you're getting there. But why will the world be a better place with Big Freedia as a household name?
It's important for so many different reasons! The world is changing right now and it's opening up for gays all over the world and homophobia is beginning to die down, and we definitely need a household name for our young generation to be able to speak up in the television limelight and mainstream music scene. We definitely need an order of that caliber to represent all those people who want inspiration and believe in following their dreams and want to take a chance on life. They're not just gay individuals or lesbians, but straight artists as well. I am an inspiration for many different people, so to be able to be mainstream helps and I believe I will keep inspiring people and keep opening doors for the younger generation.
Tune into Fuse on Wednesdays at 11/10c to watch "Big Freedia: Queen of Bounce".