Q26 Talks With Dorian Electra About Keeping True To Themselves In The Music Industry
Dorian Electra entered the national stage with their 2010 music video I’m in Love with Fredrich Hayek. The video and its subject lauded the philosophy of the Austrian economist and garnered commentary from the modern Austrian theory professor, Steven Horwitz. The gender-fluid popstar continued using music as a way to express themselves and their thoughts in 2016 when they released Ode To The Clitoris, which was meant to desensitize the word. Electra went on to be featured on Charli XCX’s track, “Femme Bot” with Mykki Blanco on the mixtape “POP2” and continues to make great hits today. However, one thing that remains consistent in their music is remaining truthful to themselves.
“A lot of music is about taking on stories of different characters, but also using it as a way to express certain things about myself,” said Dorian Electra. “I feel most at home whenever the music that I make really represents who I am - and shares something new or different than the stuff that I hear already out there. I think the most interesting music tries to add something new. I hope that by adding a little bit about who I am that it would be something new to put out into the world.”
Electra makes it a point that the music they are sharing with the world remains consistently honest to who they are as an individual by being wary of who they choose to work with on projects. Electra tends to lean towards those in the industry who are open and willing to let their voice shine in their work.
“On all of my music videos, I work with my partner Weston Allen who co-directs and edits the videos. We’ve been working together since 2013, so he’s definitely seen me change in a lot of ways and also become who I am now. He’s played an integral role in all of that. I also work with Mood Killer who is another one of our creative partners who works with us on everything. I’ve known them since 2009, and I have been working with them since around that time. I definitely feel that having them both on whatever projects I’m doing helps me feel like myself and express who I am,” said Electra.
“I’m definitely careful not to take sessions with really ‘bro-y’ producers,” Electra continued. “[I] definitely [work with] people who really understand my vibe. With producers, I’m open to working with anybody who’s really open and interested in doing something weird. I love combining different genres and playing with my voice, and making the vocal production reflect who I feel like I am. So, it could be lowering the pitch and making things sound more masculine or highlighting different voices like yodel-y whiny voices or whatever. It’s about finding someone who is interested in pushing the boundaries and exploring new and weird production styles. I think those are the people that I gravitate towards and I’ve been lucky to find some really amazing people to work with.”
Dorian Electra has also been consistent in the way that they incorporate intersectional feminism and queer histories into their work. Music videos The Histories of Vibrators, the 2000 Years of Drag (which was accepted and screened at The East Village Queer Film Festival, New Fest, and Fringe! Queer Film Fest, among others) and the Dark History of High Heels in 2016, and Control in 2017 incorporated these histories which focused on queer issues. Electra collaborated with artists such as The Vixen, London Jade, and Zuri Marley. However, a connection with one particular artist has reminded them of how powerful music can be when used in political protest.
“I first met Nadia from Pussy Riot over email because we were both interviewed by this French documentary maker who was doing a documentary about the clitoris, and I had a pop song about the history of the clitoris. This person had also interviewed Nadia and connected us. We immediately hit it off and admired each other’s work, and a year later she asked me to open for them on tour. As recently as April 4th I’ve opened for them at this secret show in LA, so I continue to do stuff with them. It’s just amazing to work with her and travel with Nadia because the music that she is making is illegal in her own country. She could be jailed for talking about sex or politics and homosexuality. It just really makes you, as an artist, not take for granted the freedom that you have. Especially here, as bad as things are, I still have that freedom. For her, it’s not just about making music and having fun. It’s a life or death situation, and the songs she sings are about the experiences she’s had in prison. Her husband was poisoned by the Russian government. I think it’s cool to see the power of music used in that way for political protest.”
Electra also notes their collaboration with Charli XCX and Charli’s ability to incorporate queerness and intersectional feminism into her music while still producing popular songs in the mainstream.
“She is amazing,” Electra spoke about the pop star, Charli XCX. “She asked me to be on her mixtape POP2 on a song called ‘Femme Bot’ along with Mykki Blanco, who is an amazing queer artist. Charli is amazing because she straddles the two worlds of underground electronic music and mainstream pop. She’s written songs for Selena Gomez and other huge artists and has had other songs become huge radio hits with Iggy Azalea, and other songs of her own. She’s opened for Taylor Swift last year on tour, but she also occupies this underground electronic music world that is really pushing the boundaries of music production and the queer music fanbase. That’s definitely the world that I’m in. It’s cool to see her straddle both of those worlds and bring up the underground and help it get more recognition.”
Dorian is working on their debut album right now, but they have a similar goal with Charli XCX in mind when creating new artistic content. Outside of remaining true to themselves in their music, incorporating powerful messages into songs that people will enjoy is also an important consideration when making music.
“My whole goal is to make music that can be enjoyed both in a pop and club context, but also has some different and really interesting stuff that tries to push the boundaries. Something that has a lot of unexpected instruments and sounds and vibes and stories and characters and all kinds of things into a queer pop context, and weaves this whole world of things that I like, and hopefully, that other people might like.”
It's important to see artists in the music industry who are not only representing marginalized communities, but also make it a goal to push boundaries, share stories, and speak about important issues. Dorian Electra’s refreshing take on creating music that means something and that can be incorporated into and enjoyed by the mainstream population is something to strive towards in a career. It will be interesting to see what the artist has in store with their work in the future. However, what they had to say about music today gave insight into what we may expect to see.
“Do something different,” Dorian Electra said when asked by Q26 to advise those who want to enter the music industry. “Don’t try to follow trends because by the time you end up seeing something that is out and trying to make something on your own that’s similar, the trend will be over,” Electra shared. “The best thing to do is, to pay attention to what’s popular and what people like, but do what feels right for you and try to combine at least two different things that haven’t been combined before. I think that is the fastest formula for making something new - just combining two unexpected things.”
Dorian Electra’s newest single and music video, Flamboyant, was released April 25th. You can watch and stream the track now on Spotify, Apple Music, iTunes, Amazon Music, Google Play, Tidal, and Deezer.