Fresh off her booty-poppin’ Spring Weekend set Friday, New Orleans bounce star Big Freedia, the Queen Diva herself, sat down with The Herald to talk about her music, performing live and the non-discriminatory dance party that is her life.
The critics have had plenty to say about the kind of music you make. In your own words, what is bounce? What is its history?
Well, bounce has been around for over two decades. It (was) … strictly born and raised out of New Orleans. Bounce music is up-tempo, heavy bass, call-and-response type music. It kind of relates to the Mardi Gras Indians and second line bands. … It’s definitely our culture from New Orleans, so that’s why it’s kind of hard for people to categorize it. We just call it bounce music.
What’s changed about the industry since you started on the scene? How has national exposure affected your process?
It’s made me elevate to want to do even more music … to expand the music, to be able to reach a bigger and a broader audience … to make it become universal and to do some commercial things, to collaborate with more artists and to get that bounce feel.
Dancing to bounce music can be really liberating in a live setting. How do you encourage people to let loose and twerk it out?
The energy really comes from the crowd. They kind of know what to expect, some of them. … They watch the videos and get prepared. So they know it’s definitely gonna be a lot of ass-shaking going on if Big Freedia’s comin’ in town.
How important is the live-performance element to your music? How do you translate that energy into a track?
Just thinking that I’m on stage or that I have a group of people around me … ’cause once I make (the track) I have to do it on stage. … I have to perform it, and that’s the key — to get the crowd going in the performance.
Do you see your music as subverting traditional gender expectations?
Well, I mean, I just party. All walks of life, all colors, races, nationalities — they party to my music, and I’m just trying to … make that big dance party where all walks of life come together, and we have no judgment of color, race, gender, sex, all of the above.
What’s life like when you’re not shaking it on stage? I understand that you have done some work as an interior designer . . .
I’m still a workaholic, either decorating something … or doing something very creative with my time. … I like to lay back, but it’s not very often that I get to lay back.
What’s the next big step for Freedia in 2013?
A documentary is coming, my record is on the way, my reality show (is) shooting … so lots is going on. I’m just trying to stay focused and trying to stay busy on all the things I have coming towards the future.