Alaska and Jeremy Chart New Territory
Added by Scott Stiffler on September 26, 2018
BY VICTOR O | Alaska, winner of “RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 2,” and Jeremy, her longtime friend and creative collaborator, recently spoke with City Media’s Victor O about their latest music project. After “werqin” the world, appearing on the Grammys red carpet, and her scene-stealing appearance in the film “Sharknado 6,” Alaska (fan favorite of “RPDR Season 5”) and Jeremy are hoping to tour together in support of “Amethyst Journey” in 2019. It’s a fresh, contemplative, and emotionally intelligent work that represents a change of tone in the dynamic duo’s ever-evolving artistic voice.
VICTOR: So first of all, I want to talk a little about your album, “Amethyst Journey.” Where did it come from?
ALASKA: Well, um, Jeremy and I have been making music together for years and so we decided it was about time we went to a studio and made some music.
ALASKA: Yeah, and we got a workation because we were, like, out into nature and kind of got away from all the hustle and bustle and, uh, actually went that deep and… wrote music about things that were really on our minds.
VICTOR: You’ve been working together for a long time. Why it the right time to release this particular project?
ALASKA: Well I mean, for me, energetically, this music is really different than any of the other music I’ve done and I just… I don’t know. I feel it’s music for the world and it’s for the earth, and I feel, like, energetically, this is an “Indica,” whereas typical Alaska music is a Sativa. This isn’t the music you put on to get twisted and go out to the club — it’s music you put in your ears for you to, like, chill out and go inward.
JEREMY: I like to call it, like, the after you’ve had your Anus and your Poundcake [titles of Alaska’s studio albums, 2015 and 2016, respectively], we go home and during the witching hours, you know, 3am, when everyone comes together, and we have the inward moments and contemplative and “BigPicture” connections… So much of our community is about celebration — but this album is about magical people’s roles in society. Everyone’s included in this album, even “non-terrestrials,” if you wanna call some of us by that label! Humans (or otherwise) — we as cosmic beings — are featured in this album. I also think there’s a lot of big things going on, there’s a lot of crucial conversations, and I think it’s good to put it out there, because these are the things are on our hearts.
VICTOR: Alaska, would you say this is the most personal album of yours to date?
ALASKA: Well, I mean for me all my music has been personal. I think this is just a different side.
VICTOR: Yeah, this is so different than what we know from your previous work.
JEREMY: And people can explore the different proportions of Alaska and Jeremy. This is a balance between Alaska and Jeremy as friends and collaborators. Alaska’s voice can be strongly felt in most of the lyrics, the sweet, but also serious tone, the Eternal Child asking those hard questions. I help balance this with the lush harmonies and the sweetness that matches in the melodies, or the way I help make an emotional impact with musical arrangements. We like to take a different angle and say, “What do you think it is? Where does it begin and end, you know?” We’re kind of fluid, misty creatures, and we like to work that way.
VICTOR: What is your favorite song from the album?
ALASKA: Oh my goodness, um, I don’t know, I don’t want to choose… I will say “Son of a Mother” though, it’s like bad and kickass… I like songs that help people cry and also move into a more healed space.
JEREMY: I like songs about getting through the dark nights of the soul — so “So Far Gone” is definitely my favorite. It just really came together quite quickly and it’s a kind of song I love to listen to, let alone get to write for Alaska and myself.
VICTOR: Jeremy, this one’s for you. What do you think about drag? What about it inspires you?
JEREMY: What do I think about drag? You know, I had an amazing two-hour interview with a friend of ours who’d come to see our show at the [Laurie] Beechman [Theatre, NYC], a wonderful trans friend doing a dissertation in sociology. So I got to literally talk about drag for two hours, which for me, is wonderful. I kept on pointing out that drag is just magic. It’s like the last vestige of shamanism in urban spaces. It’s a kind of a shamanistic role that people can do to transform their physical selves and modify their bodies with makeup, with dress, with a wig — and then they get to be a truth-teller, some sort of carnivalesque creature, who is shape-shifting!
So… I love drag! I’m at the place with my own drag where like I do it every so often when I have something very clear to say. But I really make it an occasional occasion, heheheh. Most of the drag artists that I love, that I am attracted to, I feel, like somehow, even subconsciously, they feel similarly. I love Lypsinka, Coco Peru, Varla Jean Merman, [Lady] Bunny, Jackie Beat and Sherry Vine — those hoofers can’t stop, and I’m so glad to see that drag will not just be some trendy thing for pretty young people — though it’s for everyone, I love that drag can transcend capitalistic youth culture programming. That being said, I’m happy I’ve gotten to know more contemporary drag inspirations who respect drag intergenerationally — Alaska and Jinkx [Monsoon] revere their drag mentors and elders, for sure.
VICTOR: If you were ever to do “Snatch Game,” [a recurring game show parody segment on “Drag Race”], who would you play?
JEREMY: This is for me?
JEREMY: For me, um, I think my drag personality and my general personality, and Alaska maybe can vouch; I think I would want to be Madeline Kahn. I am like a strange creature from another dimension, and she is, too. She’s so funny, in that sort of very, like, comic opera diva with something very tilted in her psyche, who breaks out in operatic voice but also can be silly as hell, and she’s incredible. So I would be her, or maybe be I would be Tori Amos, Kate Bush… Just kookie as hell, in their own mystical worlds, but also grounded and able to take their detractors to task!
VICTOR: Thank you. Alaska, you’ve done movies, TV, and you were on the Grammys red carpet with Katya. What’s next?
ALASKA: I mean, that’s part of what I love about drag, is that I get to sort of dip my toes in everything. But what would I love to do? I mean, don’t know. I like writing, so I would like to do the book, I would like to do the movie, I’d like to do the Made for TV miniseries.
VICTOR: This one is for both of you. Which one would you say is your favorite “Drag Race” season?
ALASKA: Oh my goodness, um, well it’s hard to pick one. But of course I mean, Season 5 changed my life — but I’m really partial to Season 3. I think it was like when the show sort of started to hit its stride, and, um, that was that was when I first started hanging out with my friends and watching the show, which is really what it’s all about. So Season 3 is the really special moment for me.
VICTOR: Well, I agree with you. Season 3 was the time when I decided to have a sugar daddy.
ALASKA: Ah, yeah (laughs).
JEREMY: Well, I love “All Stars 2.”
VICTOR: Of course.
JEREMY: I also love Season 5, not only because my best friend [Alaska] did so well on it, but I saw that Jinkx is kind of like me as a drag queen, and having spent time together, we’re fairly similar people. It also seemed like they were broadening the scope of people, with the kind of personality and the kind of talent sets that people had. So I mean, it was really cool to be along for the ride with Alaska, Jinkx, and Roxxxy [Andrews] during the Season 5 Absolut [Vodka] tour, and I’d known Detox in LA — so it was a really personal season. I’d also met the Season 4 queens at Billy B’s place in January 2012 and was sort of inducted by association as a friend to the Ru Girls. So when it’s more personal, it’s more meaningful. As for other seasons I can watch, Season 4 is also shady as hell, features queen of queens Latrice Royale, and Season 3 is highly rude… but made it fashion! So it’s kind of hard. But I’ll say Season 5… officially!
VICTOR: Alaska, how was your experience at Wigstock 2.HO [Lady Bunny’s Sept. 1 relaunch of her iconic Wigstock gathering, held in NYC at Pier 17]? The performers were making history.
ALASKA: Yeah. I mean, I’m so grateful I got to be part of it. It was a really like surreal and really special moment — because I remember years and years ago when I was first starting to figure out myself as a drag queen, I would watch the Wigstock movie. And then, like, here I am, sharing a dressing room with all of these legends and I was just so starstruck, like, seeing Lypsinka and being there with Jackie [Beat] and Sherry [Vine], and Lady Bunny, and Flotilla [DeBarge] was there. I was just really in a state of being starstruck, because these queens I admire so much. And I’m just really grateful for the whole experience.
VICTOR: Wow. Well just one final question for you guys. What is your advice for kids who are trying to do drag ?
ALASKA: Um, I would say there are a lot of resources out there. So I’d say more than ever. So you have all of these tools to figure out how to do hair and how to do makeup. So first of all, use those. But also, don’t copy and paste. Figure out what your character looks like, what makes her different than other people. And then go from there.
JEREMY: Find your lineage; find your tradition(s)… and that goes for any creative venture. We are not in a void, and it’s more than just references from celebrities and notables. Find your tribes, because drag is immensely personal and also a collective venture. Be in drag in the community. Be brave enough to go through the rites of passage: Being “booger,” not being perfect, and, especially, finding and cultivating your own unique performing style; what you need to express. You have to take it, extend it, and take on the personal responsibility to make it flourish. I’m an occasional queen, but in observing the workings of local and international drag talent — you can’t fake it. You have to be brave enough to find the true you and then add the magick that only you can bring!
VICTOR: Whoa, thanks so much guys. Finally, Alaska, just for my own pleasure, can you please impersonate Laganja [Estranja]?
ALASKA: Can I what?
VICTOR: Can you please impersonate Laganja?
ALASKA: Okay mama, come on Chelsea now okurrr! (tongue pop).
VICTOR: That was everything. Thanks so much, guys.
ALASKA: Thank you, honey. It was good talking to you.
JEREMY: Thank you very much.
TO LEARN MORE ABOUT, AND FOLLOW THE ARTISTS:
Click here to watch “Aliens” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z5K7rs03ZXA