Los Angeles is brimming with freedom and creativity, so much so that it was inevitable for these four artistic souls to have teamed up on a collaborative affair. Purple Crush (wife and hubby duo Isla and Jared), legendary producer Josh Peace and world renowned drag queen Raja Gemini (who you may remember as the winner of Season 3’s RuPaul’s Drag Race) worked for six months, on-and-off, on the production of ‘Shock and Awe’, a truly hypnotic and Yoko Ono-inspired slab of dance music that has already shoehorned itself as one of the best releases of the year. I was lucky enough to sit down with all four parties via the wonderful world of Skype to talk creative inspiration, California, and… well, the power of Weed.
What was the inspiration behind this beautiful musical alliance?
RAJA: Marijuana! (Laughter)
ISLA: End scene! (More laughter)
RAJA: Let’s keep it real! I mean, we do live in California where it is virtually legal for us to have it here, but ultimately we’re just a great group of artists that live in a really beautiful place. There’s a lot of freedom as an artist to live in Los Angeles. In New York you’re constantly influenced by other people whereas in L.A., we have so much room and space. It’s like living in Australia. But like, sicker (Laughter).
ISLA: It’s the Hollywood version of Australia!
Speaking of all things Australian, Raja, who visited our fair shores back in March for a tour of the nation, is returning with Drag Race alumni Delta Work, Manila Luzon and Carmen Carrera in December for another nation-wide tour she is seemingly excited for.
RAJA: Yeah, I fucking love Australia, I can’t wait for December! But yes, L.A. is definitely the Hollywood version of Australia. There’s a luxury in the way we live and the fact that we just get to do things freely.
JOSH: After we finished work on Raja’s first single ‘Diamond Crowned Queen’, I was trying to really think of a way to showcase Raja as a recording artist, but in a different light. Something that I think is different from the avalanche of (RuPaul’s Drag Race) Queens singles that are out there.
RAJA: You know, the Drag-Cunt track. (Laughter.) There’s always lines like “I’m so fierce. Shoes!” and, you know, I’m not really that person.
In May of this year, Raja unleashed the absolute artistic peak of her solo music career to date with the release of a video to her infectious single ‘Zubi Zubi Zubi’. The single remains the absolute best Drag Race Queen release to date, with one of the most visually arresting videos of the year.
JOSH: After Raja released ‘Zubi Zubi Zubi’ and I heard the style of it, I thought that it was a really great fit for her. And these guys… Jared’s a great musician, guitarist and rocker at heart.
RAJA: That’s what I’m attracted to, coz I love music and I love people who have the ability to play an instrument rather than just doing it all via digital or autotune. I love rock, and there’s a great balance in our friendship that really works. You know, just before we sat down to do this interview with you we were actually talking about starting a band. Hit us up in a few months because I think it’s a great idea. We’d sort of be like a 2014 B52’s!
Husband and wife duo Purple Crush suffered through a turbulent few years, in particular when I initially met them back in 2011/2012. But in 2014, things are a lot more positive and, creatively, they are in a better place than they’ve ever been. At the beginning of 2014 they released their first full-length feature album, Iconoclassic, which is hands-down one of the year’s finest releases.
How majestic was it to finally get Iconoclassic out there?
ISLA: Well, it’s funny you say that because this last weekend I choreographed a show at the Museum of Contemporary Art and I brought a lot of Voguers together. And because we’ve been doing so much with the Voguing community we decided we’re ready to start another project, and it made me a little sad because we did a full album and there’s a lot of songs we still want to visualise. But here I am ready to start another project!
Well my favourite on the album is “So B It”…
JARED: Oh really?!
ISLA: That’s one of the ones I wanted to put a visual too! Okay, so I’m gonna have to do something for that this Fall. A real witchy video.
Yes! That’s what I had hoped.
ISLA: But yeah, back to the album, it’s really good to have it out there and to have some momentum again.
For a time there things were pretty rough weren’t they?
ISLA: We were sort of at a low point, yeah. Right now though, globally, something is happening. Things are coming full circle and 2007 is coming back and people are rediscovering the internet, as Facebook and the internet are sort of dying. I feel really blessed right now. We are surrounded by so many incredible artists. And to have been doing it for over ten years and to still feel inspired, we’re making the best music we’ve ever made at this point in our careers. I couldn’t ask for more.
So clearly, with all of these plans to start a band together and the undeniable chemsitry that oozes from one simple play of ‘Shock and Awe’, there’s definitely going to be more collaborations down the line?
RAJA: Oh absolutely. This was a great experiment, and again, that’s the luxury of living here in Los Angeles. We can do these experimentations and we don’t feel guilty about it because the weather is so fucking great… and the pot is free-flowing! (Uproar of laughter.)
At the end of the interview, Purple Crush’s Isla announced she wanted to share a remix MP3 with the readers of Forte – the incredible DJ ShyBoy Remix of ‘Shock and Awe’ – which you can download here: bit.ly/1nytggc
Release: Purple Crush’s debut album Iconoclassic, Raja’s latest single ‘Zubi Zubi Zubi’ and the Crush x Raja x Josh Peace remix EP for ‘Shock and Awe’ are all available now via iTunes.
Written by Adem Ali. For more music news and reviews follow @AdemWithAnE on Twitter!