In May 2014, I met my next guest as she was preparing for her new comedy show, titled “I Am No Man“. After a humorous conversation riddled with fashion and the occasional off-topic Cher wardrobe question, we quickly became good friends. Years later, she is making her dreams come true and releasing her self-titled debut album. Here in The Haute Seat for her 4th interview with WERRRK.com, Tranna Wintour!
Spencer Williams: Ahh! Tranna, how are you my friend?!
Tranna Wintour: I’m good. It’s been a crazy year; I feel like it’s all catching up with me now.
Spencer: Uh, yeah every time I hear from you, it seems like you are in the middle of some wild adventure! Can you believe this is our 4th interview? One more and we are basically related.
Tranna: I can’t believe it! But thank you for being so supportive, it really means a lot.
Spencer: Of course. I am a huge fan of yours and I always love keeping up with your journey. Speaking of a journey, the first time we met in 2014, you described yourself as a “spiritually enlightened, happy, pop-culture obsessed, fashion-hungry comedienne”. Who is Tranna Wintour now?
Tranna: Laughs Those descriptions definitely still apply. Although, I think I need a tune up on the spiritual enlightenment. I know I’m not along, but I just find myself carrying a lot of anger and fear–it’s hard not to in these times. But I hope I’m at least channeling the anger and fear into something.
I’m really trying to focus on my creativity: I’m in the process of recording my debut album. It’s an actual music album, not a comedy album! I also just started working on a comedy show based on the music of Alanis Morissette, which I can’t say much about yet. But creativity and collaboration are the things saving me right now.
Spencer: Yeah I think it is safe to say that a lot of our “spiritual enlightenment” levels have drastically dropped since 2014. It’s like every day now where I wake up and see a headline that makes me want to scream and just go back to bed. But like you said, emotions such as anger and fear can drive creativity. I am dying to know how you started this path towards your debut album.
Tranna: It happened so organically. First, let me just say, it has always been my biggest dream to be a singer, to release an album. I used to write songs when I was a kid, but they were terrible. So I resigned myself to the fact that it would never happen, especially because I don’t play any instruments.
Being a performer, though, even though I mostly do comedy, I always incorporate music. I’ve created moments that allow me to sing. An amazing artist named Mark Andrew Hamilton (of Woodpigeon and Front Person) was coming to a lot of my shows, and liked I was doing. We became friends and he suggested we do something together. We did a cover of Lana Del Rey’s Summertime Sadness at a great cabaret show here in Montreal called Crystal Palace. It went really well; Mark said we should record it. We did. It sounded amazing, so we decided to do more.
We were going to do an EP of 5 songs, but we’ve created this amazing sound/vibe, we decided to expand the project into a full album! 5 covers and 5 original songs–which I co-wrote! Mark is so brilliant, and I’m so lucky he wanted to collaborate in this way. In addition to all his achievements, Elton John once requested a copy of one of Mark’s album by faxing his record label! I think that tells you how next-level Mark is.
Spencer: Oh wow, I am so excited to hear it! It feels to me like you have really given this album everything you have. What does it mean to you to achieve this dream of yours, and release this album?
Tranna: It’s honestly so hard to put into words. Working with Mark, in the beginning, was so intimidating, because he’s this incredible accomplished musical artist and I haven’t written a song since I was 10. He really pushed me and helped me discover a voice I never knew I had. Even people who have heard me sing before will not believe how I sound on the album. At the end of our recording sessions, we turn off all the lights in the studio, we lay on the ground, and we listen to all the songs we’ve done. And every time we’ve done this, I honestly cry. I just can’t believe I’ve gotten to do this. I can’t believe that’s me coming out of the speakers.
In a weird way, releasing this album means that dreams, even the ones you think are completely impossible, really can come true, as insanely corny as that is. It means that if you stay connected to your creativity, if you step outside of your comfort zone, if you allow people in, and allow yourself to be vulnerable, and don’t put any limitations on your imagination, things can really happen. And no matter what happens, this album will always remain, in my life, an example of possibility and how things/dreams often work themselves out.
Spencer: Not only will this album serve as a reminder of what you can accomplish, but I feel like it can be a signal to so many others that they too can accomplish anything they dream of doing.
Tranna: That’s so sweet! Thank you
Spencer: No, thank you! So one thing I have always known about you, and this is probably why we hit it off so well, is that you are very well versed in your pop culture icons. Who would you say is inspiring you right now as you venture down this musical path?
Tranna: Ahh always my favorite question! I’m not enough of a diva, and never will be, to say no one is inspiring me. I’m not Barbra Streisand. Laughs I am really feeling Mariah Carey right now. I’m loving the Caution era. Mariah looks fantastic, and she seems to be taking better care of herself. In interviews, she’s been talking a lot about how important and good it was to get back in the studio and create again. The album is missing a major standout moment in my opinion, but it’s a very satisfying listen. It has a great energy and vibe, and I’m loving it.
I’m also really feeling Mylene Farmer. She’s essentially the french Madonna, she is major in France. Her new album, Désobéissance went platinum in less than a week. She’s mysterious, elegant, emotional, and I’m obsessed with her new album. Seriously, even if you don’t speak French, this album is a must for any pop diva fans.
Spencer: HA! Yes the resemblance between you and Mariah is uncanny! Soon the fans will be demanding a Mariah inspired ‘Very Tranna Wintour Christmas’ album. But seriously I am searching up Mylene Farmer as we speak because I honestly trust your taste.
Tranna: A lot of her official videos are blocked outside of France, which is so dumb! But check her out on Spotify. We covered her biggest hit, “Désenchentée,” on my album.
Spencer: Ah! Perfect I can’t wait to hear. I know you’ve seen the new version of “A Star is Born”. If you were to direct and cast your own version of the film, who would you cast?
Tranna: OMG. What a great question. I would cast Rihanna and Armie Hammer. But I’m glad it was Gaga, I really wanted to see her in a movie. The movie itself sucked but Gaga was good. But the success has gone to her head and she’s already become unrelatable and uninteresting again.
Spencer: Oh wow, I love that combo! Rihanna would absolutely kill that role. I loved the movie however it made me cry like a baby so I don’t think I will ever watch it again. I don’t really feel like the success has went to Gaga’s head but then again I follow her willfully blind so I would never know..
Tranna: Well, my producer, Mark, and I, being the music junkies that we are, felt very strongly that we need to release our album on vinyl. As someone who spends a lot of time digging for records, the prospect of having my own album on vinyl is beyond exciting. But vinyl is so expensive! And I don’t have the money to pay for it… I never wanted to do crowdfunding. It makes me very uncomfortable to ask people for help like that, so I had to find away to make myself comfortable with the idea. I decided to do a concert and sell tickets to raise the money for the album, and to give people the chance to pre-order the album, so I can use that money as an advance. And people came through!
The concert is going to be a showcase of the music from the album; I’ll also be telling stories and jokes in between the songs. It’s going to be a glamorous, intimate night. I’m so excited!
Spencer: Yes! You basically spoke to my next point. I myself am a huge vinyl fan because there is nothing more satisfying than digging through a box of records and finding what feels like actual gold. Just yesterday I found Cher’s Half-Breed and I thought I might cry. I think it is super cool that you are giving that experience to your supporters.
Tranna: That’s a good find! I need to find Cher’s obscure I’d Rather Believe In You record. I’m glad to see vinyl having such a major moment and really hope the trend continues. Of course my album will also be available digitally, and I’ll have to figure out how to get it on Spotify lol
Spencer: Oh yeah that’s a good one! I have that cover art in poster form, framed in my living room…
Tranna: I have a Cher poster in my living room too. My apartment actually looks like a record store!
Spencer: You have done a lot of work as a comedian and occasionally some singing. Do you feel like your comedy career has prepared you for this new chapter in your life?
Tranna: I thought the confidence I gained through doing comedy would carry over into my musical performances but it largely hasn’t. I’m learning an entirely new craft and way of performing. I feel so vulnerable when I sing, especially in the way I’m singing now, where it means so much to me. I get so nervous sometimes when I sing, that I trip myself up and often blank on the lyrics. When that happened to Barbra Streisand, she stopped performing publicly for 25 years lol. I’m not as scared of messing up as Barbra is, I think audiences also genuinely love the moments when performers mess up, because it’s real.
Luckily, with my comedy background, I know how to make those moments funny and part of the experience. I think it’s that vulnerability that makes these musical performances interesting and so different from what I do in comedy. Ultimately, I’m just thankful that I get to express myself creatively in so many different forms.
Spencer: Absolutely. Audiences love that vulnerability because it just feels so relatable. I’ll never forget when Adele felt she was screwing up George Michael’s song at the Grammys and she just said fuck it, and started over. The audience ate that up!
Tranna: Yes!!! That’s so true!
Spencer: Lastly, through the years you’ve produced many shows that aim to showcase and support LGBTQ talent. Why is this work so important to you, especially now that you have your own album on the way?
Tranna: Honestly, it’s not that I necessarily aim to showcase and support LGBTQ talent (although of course I do, and I believe it’s so important), but as a producer I believe in simply showcasing the best, and the most brilliant, talented people are queer! Simple fact of life; it’s always been the case. My mission is getting the more mainstream places, platforms, gatekeepers to understand that so that queer artists can access the money and the big audiences they deserve.
Spencer: Beautifully said, it’s just the damn truth! So going forward how can our readers continue to follow-along and support your journey?
Tranna: They can pre-order my album (pre-order is available until the end of November) and follow me on Instagram! Oh, And come to my shows!
Spencer: Yes! Do it now. Plus everyone in the studio audience is getting a… oh never mind. Tranna, as always it was really great to hear from you. I’m super excited for the album and to see where it takes you!
Tranna: Thank you! Always so great to catch up with you.
Thank you everyone for following along with us. Please continue to follow and support Tranna Wintour!