“It’s fun to take on a character and adopt their viewpoint,” Dorian Electra tells Apple Music. “It allows me to write more freely and not feel as vulnerable. Then I have a much more interesting context to put my own thoughts together in different ways.” On their debut album, Flamboyant, the Texan performance artist introduces us to many versions of themselves. On “Career Boy” they’re a high-powered business exec, they take on the guise of a generous sugar daddy on “Daddy Like,” and “Adam & Steve” creatively reworks the Bible’s creation myth. “I like using characters, parody, and satire to explore things that would be harder to explain singing as myself,” they say. Let the gender-fluid pop star take you on a track-by-track guide of their synth-fused album.
Mr. to You “I almost had all the songs on the album and this was one of the last that I did. I wanted to write a song that could be the intro for the album, so I went into writing this with that explicit purpose in mind. I wanted the song to be like, ‘Hi, nice to meet you, my name's Dorian Electra.’ Something fun and upbeat that pulled you into my world in an exciting way and let you know this is a fun pop album but it's also going to be pretty weird. It’s a good introduction for someone who's never heard my music.”
Career Boy “I had this image of doing this businessy Wall Street aesthetic and wanted to bring that to life in a video and a song. I wanted to take that aesthetic, put it into a queer context, and play with gender in that way. It also criticizes capitalism and how we're socialized to be obsessed with work in order to feed the machine. I'm always working, even though I don't have a 9-to-5. It's more like a 12-to-12, because there's no work-life separation for me. My work is my life, and it's fun but it's also never-ending because I'm my own boss. I'm self-managed and totally an independent artist, so I'm doing all the business side way more than I'm actually doing the creative.”
Daddy Like “Within the LGBTQ community, ‘Daddy’ gets thrown around a lot but is usually reserved for cis-gay males that are buff or things that I'm not. It felt really fun to take that phrase and give it its own meaning and craft this character of a Daddy that's a sugar daddy but also is somebody who's very kind and supportive as well, which I think is a facet of actual sugar daddy relationships that a lot of people don't realize.”
Emasculate “This song has probably my favorite lyrics on the album: ‘I've got the strength of an ox, I got the speed of a fox/But I want it to stop, I'm feeling toxic.’ It’s this imagery of somebody turning into a werewolf. They have so much testosterone running through them that it's painful or they have such a boner that it's painful. I just imagine muscles growing and ripping out of flesh, it’s pretty gruesome.”
Man to Man “A lot of the meaning of this song is about conflict in general and this idea of words and dialogue being more powerful than violence, weapons, or combat. If masculinity is all about being courageous, brave, and strong, then the really courageous, brave, and strong thing to do is to be sensitive or open up about your emotions. It’s about redefining the values that masculinity traditionally holds into a new and healthier context. That's why the lyrics are ‘Are you man enough to soften up? Are you tough enough to open up?’”
Musical Genius “Well, basically, I am a musical genius. So that's what that song's about. Next. I'm just kidding! When we talk about Einstein, Picasso, da Vinci, or these geniuses throughout history, there's a funny way we talk about them. Firstly, they're usually male, and there’s this idea that they're isolated from the rest of the world. But it's not about that cultural back-and-forth like with their peers. A lot of those things happened because they picked up the right influences at the right time. That's why they're heralded as a genius—they were pulling from a lot of influences that came before them. This is breaking down the mask and hero complex as well, and then this mythology that surrounds the genius and the hero.”
Flamboyant “I encountered the word ‘flamboyant’ first when I was reading a biography about Oscar Wilde when I was a kid and I thought it was an interesting phrase. I'd always heard it used in a derogatory way to mean over the top, extravagant, sometimes tacky, but also a coded word for gay or queer. I researched the history of the word before I chose it as the name of the album. I read about how it came from this French stained glass that was flame-shaped in French Gothic cathedrals because stained glass was one of the most colorful, psychedelic, brightly colored things that people in the medieval world had to look at. To me, flamboyant means something that's begging to be looked at, something that can't be ignored because it's colorful and bright. There's so much interesting history to that word that I wanted to positively reclaim it and take away the derogatory context. Don’t be afraid to be yourself, to be out there and loud and proud—that's something really meaningful to me.”
Guyliner “Being someone that's gender-fluid, my relationship with makeup is interesting. When I'm doing my own makeup and I'm like, ‘My nose is looking too feminine.’ Sometimes I like to overline my lips to make them look bigger, plumper, but then I'm bound to the mustache and the right things that make me feel comfortable. Being part of the drag community has helped me see how makeup can be used for so much more than just covering up or looking feminine. Also keeping that, ‘Oh, well, it's not girl eyeliner. It's guyliner.’ We have to make a distinction by having makeup for guys. I wanted to take that phrase and not just draw on the nostalgia but also use it as an anthem of, ‘Hey, I’m a masc-identifying person and can still wear makeup. It's part of my identity. It doesn't negate who I am.’”
Live by the Sword “I was looking at phrases involving swords and things online and I came across ‘Live by the sword, die by the sword.’ Reading about that being this old Christian adage actually from the Bible, where violence begets violence and if you live a violent life then a violent end will come upon you. You get what you put out into the world, and if it's violence then you will receive violence back. This song is going back to that and playing into the fake romanticism of the power of the sword."
Adam & Steve “Since I heard the anti-gay slogan ‘It was Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve,’ I thought what if it was a song, like, 'Well, it was Adam and Steve, actually.’ This kind of biblical gay fan fiction, but approaching it in with medieval music and taking itself very seriously. My mom became pretty hardcore atheist after a while, but my stepmom and other family were very religious. She tried to force me to go to church when I was in high school. I tried to respectfully decline, but she wasn't having it. These things made me move out of the house until I was in an environment where I felt like I could express myself. I’ve met so many queer friends and people who are from communities that don't accept their queerness or their gender identity and say that it's sinful. It’s crazy to see fans' reactions and hear ‘I grew up religious, and to hear somebody saying God loves me and God made me is powerful.’ I wanted to make a song that was fun and playful but also said if God loves everybody and made everything, then why is there this prejudice and hate?”
fReAkY 4 Life “I wanted to end on this anthem of being like, ‘Hey, it's okay to be yourself.’ If you don't fit in anywhere else, you should be proud of that. That's a huge asset rather than something to be ashamed of or downplay. But there's also a bit of over-the-top, I'm freaky, I'm random about it. Like how on Myspace people would alternate uppercase-lowercase letters and that's how the tracklisting is on the album. I'm weird, and for the first time, that’s becoming marketable and funny and trendy in a weird way. It’s camp in the way that it's deeply sincere but then it's also acknowledging how silly it can sound as well.”