Last November, the WERRRK.com team and I traveled to Austin, Texas, to attend the Austin International Drag Festival. It was such a positive experience filled with meet and greets, panels, performances, tequila shots, and tequila shots. Did I say tequila shots?. Easily one of the best parts of the trip was meeting the musical drag duo, Party Favors. After an intimate acoustic performance, the entire WERRRK.com team fell in love. I am honored to be joined by Tony and Jesse of Party Favors to discuss their new song, “Hot Summer,” which is now available on iTunes! *Wink*
Spencer: Hello my friends, it’s so good to hear from the two of you again. It’s been a long while since Austin Drag Fest, but I suppose with the whole pandemic, that was actually one of the last events I got to physically go to *nervous laughs* How have the two of you been holding up?
PARTY FAVORS: We’ve been holding up okay. It’s definitely been a time of stress and uncertainty, but it’s also been a really unique time of being able to completely stand-still, get back in touch with ourselves, and create. We’re fortunate to live out in the country so we have space to get out, stretch our legs, and get some fresh air
Spencer: I’m glad to hear you are both doing okay; I sure could use some of that country air! Before we talk about your new song, “Hot Summer,” which I adore, I want to get to know you both a little more. Something I have always wondered is how Party Favors came to be. Would you care to speak on that?
PARTY FAVORS: We met about 5 years ago in Columbus, Ohio. The first date went really well *laughs*. A year later we had the opportunity to move out of the city and to the country. We were living paycheck to paycheck in Columbus and just weren’t thriving so we decided to take advantage of that opportunity. We’ve both always loved music and had the same dream of creating and performing as a living. When we moved to the country, it allowed us to not only have the time to create because there are much fewer distractions where we live…not a whole lot to do out here! *laughs* It freed us up financially as well.
We wrote our first songs “Glass Houses” and “Werk” in 2016, then performed them very shortly after that not knowing if they were good or not. With everything we do, there is a risk and a vulnerability that is terrifying but exhilarating. It feels so good to set your fears aside and go after your dreams.
Spencer: While you share the same dream, what do you feel like each of you brings to Party Favors?
PARTY FAVORS: Jesse (who is usually in pink) definitely brings an emotional depth and softness to our songs. He’s excellent at tapping into those-ballad making lyrics. A few of her all-time favorite artists are Lana Del Rey and Florence and the Machine and you can definitely see hints of that sprinkled throughout our music, especially in our acoustic stuff. Jesse is also a great instrumentalist playing the guitar, violin, and basically, anything he picks up. We need to get her an iconic keytar!
Tony has always been more pop music-driven, drawing inspiration from artists like Taylor Swift, Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, and the Spice Girls. He has a talent for taking a basic concept and really playing around with it to get different harmonies and melodies to make the song more interesting. He also really has an eye for onstage concert production and can’t wait to be able to plan big shows involving lights, dancers, LED screens, and other elements you’d see at big concerts.
If Jesse brings the warm tones in pink, Tony definitely compliments by bringing the cool tones of blue. We are definitely fortunate to have found each other and to complement each other so well especially in the creative process.
Spencer: One thing that drew me towards Party Favors was, of course, the fashion. You’ve created this aesthetic that is immediately recognizable through color, silhouette, and textiles. How did you create this vision?
PARTY FAVORS: Aw thank you! We’re glad you think so! Branding is one thing Tony really enjoys about what we do. I think a lot of people probably think our aesthetic is intentional but honestly we just go with things we really love and that we both agree on. There are definitely times when one of us really loves something but the other isn’t sold so we keep looking and eventually we find the perfect pieces. Blue and Pink just happen to be our favorite colors so although we aren’t glued to those colors, we just really love them. At some point, you’ll see us in other colors *laughs*.
We love glitter, we love rhinestones, and we love pastels so we just combine all that.
Spencer: Whenever I do an interview like this with such talented creatives, I have to ask each of you about your creative process and what inspires you?
PARTY FAVORS: We are inspired by so many different influences from music, to fashion and specific decades. We’ve learned a lot, and draw a lot of inspiration from big artists. Artists who are open about their stories of making it to where they are, and how they have had to persevere through hurdles of self-doubt, doubt from others, and gaining confidence in their artistry. What we’ve learned is key is to never give up on yourself and the dream you want to see come to life.
A part of our inspiration also is wanting to create a fun, carefree space where we can connect with people through music and lyrics. Growing up LGBTQ+ made music that much more important because it allowed an escape for us and it allowed us to relate to feelings we couldn’t necessarily express or we’re afraid to put into words.
As for our creative process, we don’t necessarily have a fixed creative process. It’s kind of like when the inspiration strikes, you gotta ride it. It can’t be forced, it just kind of happens, and then we have to put in the work to create a complete finished project. We have different creative processes for sure and have had to learn to combine and compromise and find a good flow that works for both of us.
Spencer: So let’s talk about your new song, “Hot Summer.” When I heard it for the first time, I instantly loved it. Honestly, It makes me feel nostalgic about life before COVID-19. Pool parties, friends, even the outdoors- and I hate the outdoors. What was the inspiration for this song?
PARTY FAVORS: We really wanted to create a song that was fun, not too serious, but has an empowering message. When it comes to lyrics, we want to be proud of our messages. Hot Summer started out as an idea of having a song that a crowd could chant to kind of like “We will, we will ROCK YOU” so that’s where “WE WANT MORE” came into play. As soon as we heard the beat, the song kind of wrote itself after that. It definitely tells a story of having to work the 9-5 gig while aspiring, dreaming, and working towards having the fantasy. I think a lot of people can relate to that message because everyone has dreams and aspirations but sometimes life keeps you where you are but it can never keep you from dreaming
Spencer: It’s interesting that you mentioned the idea of people relating to the song. I feel like one reason people really love Party Favors is that they can connect with the music. Why do you think that is?
PARTY FAVORS: We are two people who know what it feels like to be insecure, who have been bullied, who’ve felt down and out at times and music has helped us through those times whether that’s to dance away all of our cares or to really tap into those emotions that we couldn’t find the words to express. It’s taken years to find and become confident in the people we are today and we’re still learning and growing. We know first hand that the journey is amazing and messy and fun and terrible sometimes but to be able to find that true identity that has been boxed in by so many social “norms” is oh so sweet! That’s what we want our music to do for people – we want people to know that YOU are made perfectly as you are and you can be anyone you want to be. I think that’s why people can relate to us because we are just two simple people who are trying to conquer the wildest dream with a bigger goal of spreading love and kindness (and glitter) to the world. We always say Be Kind, Love Yourself, and Believe in the Impossible.
Spencer: It seems to me that the two of you are rather busy! What can we expect from Party Favors in the coming future?
PARTY FAVORS: Right now, we’re opening an amazing show in Columbus, Ohio for the amazing Virginia Wes,t and the West family. It’s a fun outdoor festival type of event which is right up our alley. After that closes, we’ll be back in the studio writing and recording gearing up for The Drag Clubhouse Spring Cruise in April of 2021! We are so excited about the cruise because it literally is a big family reunion and the entertainment is going to be incredible! The trip will be much needed after what 2020 has presented us. We’re releasing music about every two months so you can expect that as well into 2021! We are really excited about our upcoming music releases, so stay tuned. 🙂
Spencer: How can our audience stay connected with Party Favors?
PARTY FAVORS: We’d love for the WERRRK.com audience to connect with us! We’re on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and all of that good stuff. They can also connect with us by visiting PartyFavorsMusic.com
Spencer: I have so enjoyed talking with you two. Congratulations on the new song, and I am so excited to see what’s next!
PARTY FAVORS: Thank you so much Spencer! We are so honored and grateful for this opportunity and of course, we love all of you a WERRRK.com! Even from the first moment, we met you in Austin at Austin Drag Fest, we could tell the WERRRK.com team was made of genuinely good humans! We’re always sending love to you all!
Spencer: The feeling is completely mutual! I look forward to our much-needed reunion!