NEW YORK, NY – MARCH 21: Blair St. Clair attends “RuPaul’s Drag Race” Season 10 Meet The Queens at TRL Studios on March 21, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Santiago Felipe/Getty Images)
The international phenomenon that is RuPaul’s Drag Race has now featured well over 100 drag queens throughout its seasons, and many of them have gone on to do incredible things with the platform it’s given them. It’s not rare to see these ladies tour the world, seek out acting roles and even release music, but there are a few who have risen above the rest and managed to makes waves with their art.
One such talent is Blair St. Clair, whose 2018 debut album Call My Life made history by reaching No. 1 on Billboard’s Dance/Electronic Albums chart while the title track broke into the top 10 on the Dance Club songs ranking. While many drag queens record music, it’s rare to see any of it perform well commercially, and St. Clair has managed to do what so many dream of in that world.
I spoke with Blair recently about her music, how the show helped her reach a larger audience and why more people don’t take the music made my drag queens seriously.
Hugh McIntyre: Hi Blair! I’m happy to see the music going so well. I love when drag queens show that the art form is more than just the same performances people are used to.
Blair St. Clair: Thank you so much. It’s something I’ve always been passionate about and I love so much. I grew up with a musical theater background so I wanted to find some way to continue doing that with the platform that I’ve made.
McIntyre: Congratulations on the new single, it’s out now. Why don’t you tell me a bit about “Easy Love?”
Blair St. Clair: I had an album come out about a year and a half ago. During that process I learned a lot about myself in the terms songwriting, and I have so much more to learn. I really wanted to collaborate with an amazing team to help guide and form and shape exactly how great songs can be written. This whole process has been a really amazing learning process for me. I’ve been almost like a student learning the process of how to evolve and grow my musical career in a different way.
So “Easy Love” was important for me to release not just because of that process, but also because I think right now in society it’s so important to push past what I call this idea of a soup can label. I feel like right now there’s so many people out there that are putting everyone in some sort of label or box. Whether it’s your sex, your gender, your sexual orientation, your race…no matter what you are or who you are, it’s almost like we’re being told we have to identify as something.
For me, music is something that’s never had an identifier. Music is just amazing and I wanted to create, especially with my platform from Drag Race. But “Easy Love” especially, I thought, “I want this song to be amazing, one that makes me feel some sort of summer happy vibe.”
A theme in my life right now is that relationships aren’t necessarily easy. And I’m not talking about relationships only with a romantic partner, but relationships in general. They’re not easy, but love and attraction, that’s something different. I wanted to talk about how love can be easy, and it can be intimate, and it can grow. Any sort of relationship in any kind of moment. But especially right now, love should be so much easier than it is in society.
McIntyre: Is this the first taste of a full new project?
Blair St. Clair: I haven’t decided if it will be included in a final album, but there isn’t an album in the works right now. This song is mainly to bridge the gap ub between my old genre of dance/club music into more mainstream pop.
McIntyre: So we can expect more of this type of music going forward?
Blair St. Clair: Sure. I’m definitely steering more in the direction of pop and R&B.
McIntyre: The album you mentioned came out about a year ago, it made waves because it hit No. 1 and it had some successful singles. Were you surprised to see it perform so well?
Blair St. Clair: I was so surprised and I’ll tell you why. I’m one of those people who puts things out into the world that I love and I believe in. And if I love it and I believe in it and it doesn’t do well I’ll still be proud of it because I love it. I had the mentality of, “No matter what happens, I’m really happy. I’m excited.” It’s the first time I’ve recorded music, it’s new to me, I had fun, I enjoyed it, I loved what I was producing but I never anticipated it would do so well.
Because I came from a TV show where I placed on my season about, you know, middle of the road comparatively to other people, and viewers and the audience that watch the show say, “Oh you made it half-way, you’re a mediocre drag queen,” which I completely disagree with. I wasn’t anticipating that it would get as much hype as it did, because I think I was labeled as that mediocre drag queen that finished middle of the way. So it was not only so exciting, not only important to put something out that I believe it, but so exciting that people loved it as much as I loved it. Because I felt like people saw me for the first time. They didn’t just judge me because I didn’t win RuPaul’s Drag Race, and that was so cool.
McIntyre: You are not a middle of the road drag queen.
Blair St. Clair: No. Not at all.
McIntyre: What do you think it is that makes your music resonate with people? Because a lot of the queens from the show put out music but yours rose above.
Blair St. Clair: You know, I can’t really answer for anyone else, but what I can say for myself is that I really always believe in the music that I put out. I think that people can see the passion that I have for what I do, and that every little thing that I do I hide little Easter eggs in there, things that are either important to me or that have some sort of meaning, or maybe things that are relatable to other people.
I always say that I’m the relatable queen. I’m not trying to put on this show and put on a face and make everyone think that I’m the next Kardashian and have millions of dollars and full stylist team. I come from middle class Americans, and I’m just like everybody else. I happen to be really blessed and I was on a TV show and I got to share a lot of myself with, but I like to relate to a lot of people. I’m just a normal person with a lot of dreams. I tell people I was a small city girl with big dreams, and now I’m a bigger city girl with even bigger dreams. I’m trying to push past boundaries and relate to as many people as I can.
McIntyre: You mentioned how people love to put labels on everything. I’ve noticed that when it comes to music made my drag queens, it’s not just great pop or great dance or whatever it may be, it’s “drag queen music.” Why do you think people insist on labeling it that way?
Blair St. Clair: Well you know, there’s not a genre called drag queen music, just how there’s not a genre of actors who put out music or Disney Channel stars who put out music, you know? There’s no such genre, it’s just music. But people do label drag queen music initially because a lot of the music is lighthearted and it’s slapstick, not that there’s anything wrong with that at all, but I think it’s just different.
We don’t take drag queens seriously as people. I think what happens a lot is that people don’t appreciate or respect drag queens as artists. Because we are just as much artists as anyone else. Not to mention, I mean, we kind of do everything for ourselves; our own hair, our own makeup, a lot of costuming, style items. And I think that people see the gay community in general, and drag queens as a derivative of the gay community, as a joke. That’s something that I really, really, really hope and pray that people look past and see people as artists eventually one day, and see people as people.
And that circles back to what I was talking about with labels. People put all these people under labels and identifiers all the time, like drag queen music, whatever that means. One day when we start saying, “Oh I love that music,” or, “I love that person,” or, “I love that human being.” I think that’s when we’ll be more progressive as people.
McIntyre: If I go see a Blair St. Clair show, is it part performance? Is it part lip sync? Is it part you doing your own songs? How do you incorporate these into your shows?
Blair St. Clair: Well it depends on the venue because live singing at a lot of the bars and clubs that I frequent isn’t as easy as you may think. With the loud music, the booming, the crazy atmosphere or the ambience, it’s very, very hard to sing without what we call an in-ear monitor, which gives you the feedback of what you need to hear and to sing. So, if I’m at a concert venue or a theater you’re definitely going to see a live vocal show from me. If I’m at a bar you’re definitely going to see a little bit of a mix, me singing mixed with other performances of me lip syncing, other performances of me doing some theatrical song and dance.
I definitely have not lost my roots as a musical theater performer. I just try to find different ways of being theatrical in my performance, and right now I’m developing a one woman show to hopefully take on the road soon to incorporate many, many, many of those things together. But I’m also working on a concert version of an album to take on the road when that drops, hopefully by the spring and that would be all completely singing.
McIntyre: I was just about to ask if would you ever want to go out on the road with not a drag show, but just a concert?
Blair St. Clair: Yes, that is the goal. That is the ambition and the dream. Right now unfortunately, because drag queens haven’t been taken seriously as artists, getting those venues to do like a Blair St. Clair in Concert is more difficult. I’m hoping that definitely changes soon so I can do that.
McIntyre: I would love to see that happen, and I would love to see other people follow your lead and branch out in that way.
Blair St. Clair: I was given so many opportunities and many, many helping hands when I was beginning my drag career, so if I was ever blessed enough to do a Blair St. Clair in Concert tour I would make sure that I had someone open for me, maybe someone to do a feature and perform with me. I would love to take more people on my tour than just myself, to pad out a huge production.
McIntyre: Is there anything else you want to throw out there about what’s coming for the rest of the year for your fans?
Blair St. Clair: Sure, yeah. I’m actually working on a couple of movies right now.
Blair St. Clair: And some other TV shows, and working on a full-length album that I cannot wait to release to the world soon. And I’m collaborating with some really amazing people in the music industry to work one day at a time, pushing past boundaries and pushing past the limits of what drag queens have been told they can do in mainstream society. I’m hoping that in the next year you will see me in a concert venue on my own concert tour.