Self-released, 2018. Photo by Lisa Predko
If you haven’t yet heard of Trixie Mattel, you honestly have no excuse at this point. When she first entered the spotlight in 2015 on Season 7 of RuPaul’s Drag Race, she became an immediate fan favorite with her bubblegum Barbie aesthetic and contrasting dry humor. Fast forward to 2018, and she was just crowned the winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 3. She has her own Youtube series turned TV show on Viceland with fellow Drag Race queen Katya, cleverly titled The Trixie and Katya Show. And she just self-released her second album One Stone, which is the follow up to her first album Two Birds (amazing, right?). There is literally nothing Trixie Mattel can’t do.
Trixie Mattel is the drag persona of Brian Firkus, a 28-year-old Wisconsin native who grew up playing the guitar and listening to the likes of Melissa Etheridge and Sheryl Crowe on his two hour bus ride to and from school. His first experience in drag was for a college production of Rocky Horror Picture Show, and from there it took off to becoming a passion, and now a platform for his music. Trixie Mattel is a “musician first and a drag queen second,” and sees that it is difficult for her art to be taken seriously.
She told Billboard, “Drag is great way to get people to pay attention to me, but it’s a difficult way to get people to take me seriously as a musician. So it’s a weird Catch-22. It’s like a gimmick that gets them to pay attention, but when they see my image, they’re like ‘There’s no way this is going to have any legitimacy to it'”.
On One Stone, Mattel enters uncharted drag-folk territory. The opening track, “Little Sister”, offers honest advice on growing up through melancholic yet hopeful lyrics with strings to match. “Soldier” is sonic serotonin, with sweet, calming lyrics like, “Oh soldier, take your time / No one said the words all have to rhyme, and if they do it’s fine” and warming horns that combine to remind the listener to let go of anxious thoughts. “Moving Parts” is, at its core, a compelling love song, but it also presents an honest truth on the game of life, and how we can all play to get through.
The entire album, much like drag itself, is a refreshing escape from reality. Trixie Mattel is able to create a 22-minute world of her own that the listener is transcended into, where acoustic guitars and autoharps exist in harmony with drag culture. One Stone is an album by a drag queen, but it gives an entire new meaning to a drag queen album. Folk triumphs dance music in Trixie Mattel’s world, and once you enter it, you’ll want to stay a little while longer.
Be sure to check out Trixie’s stand-up and live music show in a city near you.