This article originally appeared in ‘The Let’s Evolve’ issue of BRICKS, available to purchase from our online store.
During the lockdown, the internet has become much more than just an area of cyberspace to share holiday snaps and selfies. It has, for many creatives, become a tool for much-needed, socially-distant collaboration. For most artists, club nights have become weekend zoom-webinars, and DMs have replaced meetings. This is exactly how Dorian Electra and Rebecca Black got talking. Aware of her viral history and unwavering musical abilities, Dorian slid nonchalantly into Black’s DMs to request working together, unsure as to whether she would say yes. Needless to say, she did, and the pair have collaborated on a track together for Dorian’s latest project.
Electra’s overtly camp, and at times comedic musical style is matched equally with their visuals and their debut 2019 album, Flamboyant was nothing short of its title. Well-known for their highly stylised aesthetics, they are constantly transcending the increasingly flimsy binaries set out by today’s pop-landscape. Whether they are playing an overworked ‘Career Boy,’ a generous sugar daddy or neon pop-punk front-person, Dorian Electra takes on multiple characters within their work.
Whilst their queerness is visible, you would be foolish to pigeonhole them because of it. In fact, the mainstream could only be strengthened by having a daring genre-busting character like Dorian Electra at the helm. Rebecca Black sits down with Electra to discuss the ins and outs of their second project, My Agenda, their collab track ‘Edgelord’ with Rebecca Black, internet culture, trolls and just some of the many anxieties that are stirred up by today’s music industry.
Rebecca Black: Hi Dorian, how are you?
Dorian Electra: I am great on this beautiful Los Angeles morning. How are you?
RB: I’m good. It’s been a really strange year obviously, I think the word ‘unprecedented’ has been beaten to death, but it do be like that. Obviously, we have this song coming out together. Which might already be out by the time that people get to read this! I love this song, this track, everything about this project so much. I wanted to start by asking you; what inspired this track for you, and everyone that helped put it together?
I do feel that the people that I think are the coolest, are the people that are just not afraid to be themselves.
Dorian: I had the phrase ‘EdgeLord’ written in my song-title journal for a long-time. It’s such an interesting phrase. It’s a very internet phrase for anyone that doesn’t know – it’s people that like to go on the internet and be heinous trolls, and fuck with people and usually say really heinous things or mean things or offensive things etcetera. And it’s usually under the cloak of some sort of internet anonymity and some kind of safety. It’s sort of a cowardly form of lashing out at people.
I was talking to my creative partner, Weston [Allen] and we were trying to figure out who would be the best feature for this song. We wanted everything to be super meaningful, with each person that’s on the project, they have a connection to the concept. Weston actually suggested you. And I was like, ‘Oh my god, that would be so amazing because when I think about Rebecca Black, I think about somebody, who probably more than anyone I can think of, has really had to deal with internet trolls and the full-force.’ You were able to take that, and make it into your own empowering thing, you know? When you said yes, I was so thrilled.
RB: I feel every artist has this defining essence. You seem to constantly omit this fearlessness, and I don’t know where it comes from?
Dorian: I feel really lucky that I grew up with a really supportive family. My mom and dad were both the weird ones in their family. They were brought together by both of them feeling a little out of place in their own upbringing and my mom being hella goth artsy vibes, and my dad being into like rocker vibe or whatever. I always grew up around queer people, and my mom dated women only after she and my dad split so all of that was never a taboo or anything for me and my family.
I think that so much of our confidence does come from those early experiences. So when I deal with people, especially on the internet, that are lashing out at me out of hurt or something, I always try to be empathetic instead of being mad at them. I think this is probably coming from a place of insecurity and hurt in somebody’s life or past or whatever, all those things that can shape us.
I do feel that the people that I think are the coolest are the people that are just not afraid to be themselves, they aren’t afraid to be something that most people would be like ‘that is fucking ridiculous, that is really stupid’ or nerdy, or whatever. But to me, that is like real coolness.
That being said, a thing that I do fear is not being “cool”. I think that my biggest fear in that realm is being perceived as being too goofy or too humorous, because I love humour, and I love comedy, and I love being funny. Sometimes I’m worried music writers will think that I’m just some like.. some sort of LGBTQI+ novelty artist or that I am pigeonholed into one group that is not seen as dynamic. Those are my fears, and even if I recognise them, I’m just going to keep doing my thing and let my fans in my audience speak for me. Sometimes there are things, like what people are writing about you and that kind of stuff and it gets to me. I try not to let it but yeah…that’s my fear
RB: I think that every artist goes through their own fear of not being cool, and there is this really strange dichotomy that as soon as you think about being cool, and as soon as you show people that you’re trying to be cool, suddenly it’s not. But when you are tapping into your own authenticity, however that may be, whether it’s the nerdiest thing in the world to someone else, it doesn’t matter. As long as it’s cool to you and cool to whoever is listening to you or talking to you then it’s cool. That’s what I love about the internet, TikTok is a space for everything to be cool. I was a kid of the internet before ‘Friday’ ever existed because I was not cool in my school but I could go online and find somewhere where I was. Are there any ways in producing this record and project that new fears have popped up or challenges that maybe you didn’t think would come out of this?
Dorian: Well some of the fear was, ‘Am I going to get this done in time?’ Because there were so many features to wrangle and stuff, that uh…yeah that was tricky. I think the other fear that I had was like, ‘Are people going to get it?’ Certain songs and stuff where even in my own mind there are so many layers and meanings and ways that it could be interpreted.
RB: Is there anything about this time, and about where you’re at now that has changed your perception on what that future normal will look like? And are there things that you don’t miss about the way that things were before? That may be in the industry or the ways you created or anything like that?
Dorian: I guess things that I appreciate about this time is that I really like the process of music videos and being able to focus on the music. I also love touring and live shows, but I guess I am excited to get to make more music. Because last year, for example, I put out my first album in July, and at that point, I was planning my own tour like personally emailing all the venues like that; now I have a team that helps me with all that. My brain was like: music for the first five months of the year, then music videos, then the album, then tour – very compartmentalised. And for the rest of the year from September to the holidays, it was just shows, shows, shows. Like no content or stuff. But now, I have been able to accelerate and explore new aesthetics, new vibes, new music, and I feel like everything is moving faster which I do really like, fun. Yeah, that’s the thing that I am most excited about in that sense.
RB: I agree, I mean, it’s especially lucky for us who I feel have a really close relationship with people who can help us create things. I know you live with a tonne of creatives and they’ve been helping you produce music videos and so many creative endeavours and yeah. It’s made me also appreciate the people that I have, and the way that my mind works is that I can focus just on creating new things.
Dorian: I want to know, what kind of stuff you have going on?
RB: So, this year didn’t happen the way that I thought it would in every single way, and I think the biggest changing thing with me was at the top of quarantine and all of that stuff happening, I came out. In a moment when I didn’t think I would. I always wanted to, but I was like, ‘Oh here we are.’ I was also going through a breakup and it just spurred so many different creative emotions and just emotions in general, and it really changed the way that I create. Before that, even though I was out in my personal life and everybody knew and the people I worked with knew, I was really hesitant to create things that were so obviously queer because I couldn’t see the moment where they would actually see the light of day. And, that coming out process completely changed all of that.
When I think about Rebecca Black, I think about somebody, who probably more than anyone I can think of, has really had to deal with internet trolls and the full-force.’ You were able to take that, and make it into your own empowering thing.
And now I have, going through this breakup and having an entire experience of it, has been I guess to put it into an entire collection of songs and has turned into its own story. I have been working on a larger visual project to piece all those together and I am so excited to, as a queer woman. Even though there is so much awesome representation out there there is such a long way to go, and I think finally feeling comfortable and being able to create that representation more and really everything has been balls to the walls so so gay. I love it, I thought I would never be able to do that. I’m also so excited for you and everything you have coming up, and I am so excited about our song. It’s a good feeling.
Dorian: That’s so exciting too, and I am so excited to hear that all the music that you’ve been working on and so many people I’ve been working with – so many producers and stuff have been like, ‘I wanna work with Rebecca,’ And I know your brain is probably focused on what you have in store because when people try to talk to me now about new music I’m like, ‘What is that?’ My brain is not computing. But yeah, it’s really cool, and I do feel a sense of community as artists that is being strengthened all the more over the internet during this time. When did you say that you came out publicly?
RB: It was right when lockdown first hit, the beginning of March.
Dorian: I didn’t realise it was so recent, I remember yeah…that’s amazing!
RB: It’s been weird making the public transition from ally, because I have always made it a focus of mine to be a present ally, so making that change from ally to, ‘Hey I’m here,’ was really interesting. Having the personal life coming out vs letting everyone else know, was interesting.
Dorian: Did you feel a pushback from people or was it mostly just accepting vibes?
RB: I was afraid of pushback from the sense that I was afraid of people not believing me.
Dorian: That’s so interesting!
RB: Because that was something that I dealt with when I came out to people that I knew. Especially being that I didn’t really come out. Some people that are listening to me talk about this or whatever might think, ‘Oh you’re so young,’ but I didn’t have the experience of being like 11 and thinking, ‘This is me,’ It came a little bit later so people were just a bit confused and didn’t totally understand that. But it’s been so much more supportive when I came out publicly than I could have ever imagined. It’s been really awesome, and I think the people that I was working with who were afraid of maybe pigeonholing me as queer have done the exact opposite because it’s been so much more true to what is going on in my life.
Dorian: That makes me so happy to hear!
RB: It’s good stuff. It’s so good to talk to you Dorian, I am so excited for you, I’m so excited for both of us.
Dorian: I am very excited for you too, and excited for us, and very excited for the music video which I’m planning soon. It’s going to be so amazing!
Dorian Electra’s ‘My Agenda’ project is out now! Listen below.
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