She calls herself the Queen of Bounce, and it’s a title she rightly deserves. Known for bringing New Orleans’ musical style to the mainstream—and for her TV show on Fuse—Big Freedia delivers her big, bold personality wherever she goes.
Last year, the queen released the critically acclaimed EP 3rd Ward Bounce, and on June 1, she’ll bring a taste of New Orleans to this year’s Emerge festival.
How did you get into bounce music? I was listening to it young, when I was a kid. My friend Katey Red was the first transsexual to come out in bounce music. I sang background for Katey for about two years and helped her on her project. And then—in about 2000, 2001—the Big Freedia story began, and I started to create bounce music and it’s been going ever since.
Why do you think bounce has been a genre where queer and gender-nonconforming folks can express themselves freely?I just think that it’s a fun music, [and] a music for all walks of life. It’s something that lifts the spirit. The queens here in New Orleans— especially in the LGBT community—we have truly embraced it and use it to the best of our abilities.
You and Lizzo worked together on “Karaoke.” How did that collaboration come about? Me and Lizzo have been friends for a while now, and it was just perfect timing for us to do a song together. I’m not sure when it will be released, but I did a song on one of her projects first. And then I had a song and I wanted her to get on, which was “Karaoke.” She’s amazing.
You mentioned in a Vice interview that a lot goes into prepping for a show. Can you elaborate?It takes energy, it takes a team of people. Me and my team, when we’re prepping to get ready, everybody has to go into hair and makeup and to wardrobe and [we do] stretching and we pray. We go into a zone where we get ready to entertain people. It takes really setting your mind to doing it every day, especially when we’re on tour.
Your TV show, Big Freedia: Queen of Bounce, aired a segment in which you rode the SlotZilla Zip Line in Las Vegas. Would you ever do it again? Hell no! That was crazy. Girl, I could not—listen: My heart was racing so fast on that thing, I was really screaming, ’cause I was scared to death.
You’re playing Emerge, which combines live music with interactive, communal experiences. What can people learn watching you perform? They’ll all know that I’m definitely the queen of bounce by the time I finish bouncing my ass all over the thing. They will enjoy a great show full of energy and fun and lots of love, and I hope that they can reciprocate that and give it back in return.
Big Freedia Self & Sex showcase, June 1, 10 a.m.
EMERGE May 31 & June 1, times vary, $199/weekend, $130/day, $25-$55/show. Hard Rock Hotel, emergelv.com.