Of course Big Freedia, the "Queen Diva" of New Orleans bounce music, is sleeping on a Monday afternoon.
Just two days ago, Freedia premiered the fourth season of her award-winning reality show, Big Freedia: Queen of Bounce. She's still promoting the July release of her autobiographical book, Big Freedia: God Save the Queen Diva, too, while working her new single, "Crazy." And she's just headlined the Bombadillo music festival in Baltimore—all this before her Bounce Shakedown Tour backs into Raleigh Friday night. As a recent headline in her hometown newspaper proclaimed, "Freedia's Fierce: Queen of Bounce Is Suddenly Everywhere."
When I caught up with her by phone, Freedia was in a bathroom, fresh out of bed and answering multiple phone calls at the same time. She's just busy. Still, when her sudden taciturnity doesn't match the turn up of her twerk-fest concerts, it's alarming, almost sad even, as if the pace of the motion has even gotten to her.
But that's OK: Whether Big Freedia is bounce music's ass-shaking avatar or, more important, a hero to the gay and transgender community by adding new celebrity to the cause of creating a safe space for everyone to dance as raunchily as possible, her actions speak loud enough. And she's getting more respect than ever while gigging with Lil Wayne, partying with Beyoncé and taking her act internationally.
From the bathroom, then, Big Freedia.
INDY: What did you do for Pride Weekend?
BIG FREEDIA: Unfortunately, I wasn't able to participate in New Orleans Pride this year. My calendar has been crazy. I think I had a show somewhere.
Are you surprised at the success of your reality show? Did you think you'd reach a fourth season?
I didn't think it would go past Season 1. It's an honor. I'm really blessed to have all of the love and support.
What should your fans expect to see during the new season?
We're stepping it up. This season will be a little bit more in-depth. I'll be more open about my relationship. You'll get to the whole book-writing process. You'll get to see the dancers venture off into some of their own life situations without me being there all the time. You'll also see me trying to rekindle my relationship with my dad, who I've been out of reach with for such a long time. You'll get to see me travel internationally and see how they accept me in other countries. We had such a blast.
Did your book-writing process bring you any self-discoveries?
Most definitely. The whole process of going back and rekindling all of those old memories was interesting. I just didn't know that I worked so hard and that I had put so much dedication toward my craft and toward bounce music.
In August, you performed during Lil Wayne's Lil Weezyana Fest. Was that a sign that you had finally been accepted among your New Orleans music peers? Had you already felt that way?
I already felt that, but it felt a little more special being that it was Lil Wayne. It felt really good to be called by Lil Wayne's staff, especially being that I was the only queen on the bill. I felt respected, loved, honored to represent bounce music for the city. Everyone was happy with it.
How do you feel about your music being described as "sissy-bounce" music?
There's no such thing—it's just bounce music. We don't separate it. There's not straight bounce or sissy bounce. It doesn't even make sense to call it anything else.
You're recording with Sia and experimenting with EDM. Your new single, "Crazy," has more of a storytelling element than your more straightforward bounce material. How receptive has your core audience been to you trying out new things?
I'm all about trying to expand the music and going in different directions. They've been very accepting thus far. They like it.
You started out in the church, singing gospel hymns. What do you think about the idea of combining that with what you do now to make "gospel-bounce" music?
I love it.
What about starting your own series of bounce music fitness videos, like Zumba?
It's coming. It's already on the way.
And have you heard from Mr. Ghetto lately?
Hell no. I don't even know if he's still in New Orleans. He's been so low-key. I haven't heard anything about him.