Well hello there Our Lady J! Or should I call you Lady J or J or Lady or hopefully something more polite than ‘Hey you!’? Thank you so much taking time out of your schedule to sit down and talk with me. In recent months, it seems like you’ve been on my television more than anyone this side of Jimmy Fallon this year, between Drag Race and What What Happens Live, on top of your normal musical interludes. So aside from being uber busy, how is life treating you these days?
Hi Chiffon! You can call me Lady J, or just J. Thanks for contacting me! Life has been great. I’m having a blast, spreading my “gospel for the godless” from the stage to television. Drag Race and WWHL were so much fun, and last week I had the honor of accompanying Sia on Diplo‘s new VH1 show Soundclash. We played three songs off her new #1 album “1000 Forms Of Fear“. You should check it out! (Check it out here!)
Girl, I am tired just hearing about your schedule! You just got back from London and Ireland a little while ago as well if I’m not mistaken! How was your trip across the pond?
*Laughs* Work is more invigorating than tiring when you’re living your passion! I was in London, Dublin, Copenhagen, and Vienna earlier this summer and I’ll be heading back to Europe at the end of August to play a couple of Pride events. European audiences are always so wonderful to me because they get what I’m doing. My show isn’t a drag show – I’m a singer/songwriter/pianist who is trans. I love drag as an art form, but I think I’m too depressed to do it myself. *Laughs* I love exploring the dark side of music, rather than the vaudevillian. Europeans get into the grit.
How do you amalgamate that dark side with your “Gospel For the Godless” show? Typically Gospel is considered uplifting but is it possible to be dark and yet uplifting?
Gospel music is indeed uplifting, but it always starts from a place of need. I connected with this yearning for transcendence while growing up in the church, and although I’m not a religious person now, I continue to make music that captures the same longing – just without the religious dogma. My shows are church for people who don’t like the establishment that church has become.
You said before that Europeans get what you’re what doing. Do you still feel you’re stigmatized here in the States as a trans artist rather than an artist who just happens to be trans?
I think people see a trans femme musician and they expect to hear dance music or bubble gum pop – both which I love, but that’s not who I am as a musician. People are changing however. I have a great following in the states that is growing steadily.
So who were your musical influences growing up? Who inspires and challenges you musically now?
Tori Amos was always my #1 inspiration growing up. Nina Simone, Tom Waits, Rufus Wainwright – I’ve always loved pianists who sing. Right now I love Nico Vega, Denai Moore, Banks, Bat for Lashes.
You had me at Nina Simone! So we were talking about “Gospel for the Godless” show a bit. You’re bringing it to New York City this month. Can you tell us a bit about the details and what people can expect if they’re lucky enough to attend?
It’s going to be a show full of original music, along with gospel covers of pop songs accompanied by The Train-To-Kill Gospel Choir. CHURCH for queers! (Get your tickets here now! Go on, we’ll wait for you!)
Your most recent album, Picture of a Man, came out last year (Download it now here). Have you begun work on a new album and do you have any new directions you want to take your music in?
Yes, I have! I’ve written a lot of new songs and have been performing them while on the road. I can’t say too much about the new sound, but it is an exciting new direction!
Obviously you’re still young but what do still have left in your proverbial bucket list that you’d like to accomplish?
I’d love to go more mainstream with my music. I know my music is challenging, but I believe the world is ready!
So after your New York City show, what is on your agenda for the rest of the summer and the fall?
I’m performing in Copenhagen August 28th & 30th, Provincetown Sept 8th & 12th, and then working on my next album for the rest of the fall.
When all is said and done, how would you like to be remembered?
I’d love my music to be remembered as something that touched and connected people to their humanity.
Thank you so much for your time my dear. I wish you continued success in the future. Hopefully we can catch up with you again down the road. Do you have any final words of wisdom to share with the readers?
Thank you! Just be your most beautiful selves! And treat yourself to good music every day!