Big Freedia has fifteen minutes to spare. She’s spending the afternoon speaking to various members of the press, no doubt about her fast-rising status as the ‘Queen Diva’ of New Orleans bounce music.
And rightly so.
The past year alone, Freedia’s played to countless sold out crowds, landed an in-demand reality series on Fuse, and had her beloved hometown of New Orleans proclaim an official day in the Queen Diva’s honor. Everyone wants a piece of Freedia as of late, and everyone wants to ‘release their wiggle’…including celebrities like Miley Cyrus (more on that later) and Ryan Gosling.
How big has the twerk craze gotten? Big enough to be added to the dictionary and big enough for the rapper to release the instructional guide, Big Freedia Guide To Bounce Pamphlet where you can learn how to ‘Bust Open’, ‘Bendova’, ‘Lift the Leg Up’, ‘Shoulder Hustle’ and more.
If you’ve been to one of the Queen Diva’s shows, no doubt you’ve gotten an eye full of booty and thoroughly shook yours in the process. This weekend Big Freedia brings her energy and her twerk team to Austin for the inaugural Stargayzer Fest as part of her Just Be Free tour.
I spoke to Big Freedia about wordplay, who gets her booty shake of approval, and why she wants to perform at The Grammy’s:
SD: How does it feel to have August 21st now be known as Big Freedia Day in New Orleans? How did you celebrate?
Big Freedia: Oh my god, it just felt so amazing. I knew they were going to honor me, but I never knew it was going to be an official Big Freedia day or any of that, so it was a really shocking surprise. It was such an honor, I was at a loss for words. My mom is definitely working her magic from the heavens. My angel is definitely looking down on me.
SD: You use a lot of NOLA slang in your songs like ‘Yaka’, ‘Duffy’, ‘Buku’, what are some other slang words you use that the general public might not be clued into?
BF: I use so many words: Yaka, Pow Pow, You Already Know, Feverish…we have so many, the vocabulary is wide and it depends on how I feel and I may just come up with a new word.
SD: What’s the most recent word that you came up with?
BF: Yaka was the most recent. Before that it was Duffy.
SD: You’re one of the headlining acts at Stargayzer Fest this weekend in Austin, how does it feel to support these types of LGBTQ oriented events?
BF: It feels good, I feel like I’m at home, honey. I’m surrounded by my own kind. There’s a fair amount of events for the LGBTQ community, and events will steady grow, and keep on getting bigger and bigger each year. These things take time. My music is for everybody and I want to be a sensation at all of these events.
SD: You recently kicked off the Just Be Free tour. How “free” do people get at the shows from city to city? Are some audiences shyer than others or does everyone come ready to bounce?
BF: Usually when it comes to a Big Freedia show they’re coming to get down. Usually every city is high energy and they’re ready for Freedia. If they haven’t seen the show before, most of the time your friends have put you up on it and have made you aware of it and have given you some type of knowledge about it. Your first experience will definitely be the best one ever. I’m just really excited to be on this Be Free tour and allow people to come and be free with me in whichever way they choose to.
SD: The ass is having a moment. From Beyoncé, to J.Lo and Iggy Azalea’s “Booty”, to Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda”, which pop star gets your “wiggle” of approval? If Any?
BF: Beyoncé for sure. And Nicki Minaj.
SD: Speaking of pop stars, you met Miley Cyrus after her show in NOLA earlier this year, how was that?
BF: It was awesome, it was a good experience. It was good to meet her and see her face to face. I got her side of things [on the MTV VMA performance] and she got my side of things and it was what it was. She’s Miley and I’m Freedia.
SD: The Just Be Free tour wraps with Voodoo Fest. How does it feel to close out the tour there five years since your breakout performance at the fest in 2009?
BF: It feels awesome to be closing at home and supporting my city. We’re going to have to pull that last energy out of us at the end of the tour and no place better than at home where we can just be ourselves. Our culture’s here and the people are here. It’s going to be an awesome performance, definitely a killer at the end. We’re going out with a bang.
SD: Who are some of your music and fashion icons?
BF: For music, oh lord, I have a lot of people that I get inspiration from: Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Patti LaBelle, Jay-Z, Kanye West. There’s so many of them out there. Ru Paul, Lil Wayne, Juvenile. There’s so many different avenues of music, I try to give everybody a listen. Skrillex. There’s tons of people we get a chance to run up off and we get a chance to vibe with them and listen to their music.
As for my fashion sense of things, I try to put my own fashions together and think of my creative ways to be different from everybody else. I like a lot of fashion that’s out there, but I try to open up my mind and come up with the fashion.
SD: What are you listening to currently?
Right now I’m definitely listening to Beyoncé and a little bit of Fantasia. I listen to local radio stations and when I’m in different places I hear whatever they’re playing. We listen to them all. Whoever is on the radio I’m listening to and seeing what’s hot and what’s not. We hear it all.
SD: You’re Queen Diva, you hold a Guinness World Record for most people twerking at the same time, you have a Fuse reality TV show, your own official day…what are your future plans for world domination?
BF: Just to keep working, staying consistent, staying relevant to my fans and to the culture of New Orleans bounce music. To keep pushing doors down and opening pathways for other artists that are going to come after me and to keep making my music. Hopefully I’ll be performing at the Grammy’s or MTV VMA’s, or BET Awards or some type of function where they can validate me and bounce music and the culture of New Orleans.
Image source: Soul Train