!! Q&A !!

!! OMG, a Q&A with Dita Von Teese !!

Dita Von Teese by Albert Sanchez

Photo by Albert Sanchez

We are thrilled to share our conversation with legendary burlesque star and pin-up model Dita Von Teese.

Her upcoming show, Night of the Teese – A Cinematic Special, filmed at the illustrious Orpheum Theatre in downtown Los Angeles during the pandemic, will be streaming for one weekend only Friday October 1st – Sunday October 3rd, featuring an all-star cast of friends and collaborators that the reigning Queen of Burlesque has worked with during her 30-plus-year career, in addition to some exciting new talent.

Von Teese connected with director Quinn Wilson, a queer rising star who also happens to be Lizzo’s creative director, to create a one-of-a-kind intimate experience that captures the unique vision and energies of her hand-picked performers. With a sharp focus on presenting the best of the best in burlesque, the work spans the gender spectrum while celebrating intergenerational bodies, backgrounds, and performance styles.

 

It’s a much needed return to magic, glitz and glam after almost two years when the closest thing for most of us to a scintillating experience was not having to wear bottoms to a staff meeting.

In addition to the long overdue streaming experience, Von Teese has just arrived in Paris to begin her stint as a contestant on Dancing With The Stars.

We caught up with the down-to-earth diva about how that particular experience may not be going quite to plan, her humble beginnings,  as well as what she’s learned — and taught — in her fabulously flashy decades-long career as a glamour girl or, as she’d say, a “fancy pants stripper”!

Read the full Q&A with Dita Von Teese after the jump!

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!! OMG, a Q&A with New Chance !!

Victoria Cheong New Chance

Photo by Kevin Hegge

Toronto-based artist Victoria Cheong recently released her debut full-length album Real Time via New York based post-punk artist Chandra‘s new label imprint, We Are Time, and basically: it’s arty as f*ck!

Following stints singing backup with the likes of the aforementioned Chandra, as well as Canada’s beloved folk-rock-poet Jennifer Castle (read our Q&A with Jennifer here), Cheong’s solo work perhaps leans more closely towards her roots as a DJ and collaborations with the likes of reggae legend Willi Williams. Under the moniker of her solo experimental electronic pop project, New Chance finds Cheong delving deeper into her own cosmic offerings.

While not not built for the dancefloor, Real Time veers inwards and outwards, resulting in songs that are as intimate and meditative and as they are esoteric and metaphysical. On the album, Cheong explores both the astral and physical experience in relation to the construct and concept of “time” itself.

New Chance aka Victoria Cheong photo by Kevin Hegge

Photo by Kevin Hegge

Described in her bio as “techno meditations,” her song forms manifest in contradictions: as planetary structures such as valleys and gardens, then veering off into full-on astral expanses. Through her uniquely hypnotic, inquisitive tonal perspective, Cheong lyrically navigates simultaneously through states of introversion, and the quest for universal connection.

Thematically, the songs come in search of internal harmony, but also attempt to harness the power of vulnerability, and the courage to open oneself up to chaos.

Deeply rooted in the artist’s study of astrology, the album grapples with the concepts of artistic and physical agency, and harnessing one’s inner spectral universe. Despite these rather hefty conceptual investigations, the Real Time exists in a seemingly weightless musical realm, and remains a captivating, contained universe throughout.

We sat down with New Chance and attempted to tangle out some of the themes on the album, as well what it’s like to operate as a multi-disciplinary artist in an increasingly demanding capitalistic world.

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!! OMG, a Q&A with Austra !!

Austra by Photo by Virginie Khateeb

Photo by Virginie Khateeb

Like many other artists, Austra’s Katie Stelmanis was forced to cancel a tour in support of her last album, HiRUDiN.

Upon its release in 2020, the album was tethered to a particularly catastrophic and unforeseen break-up. Without a tour to process and perform the songs, and amidst the seclusion brought on by the pandemic, the singer, now four records into her bands catalogue, was forced to confront her loss head on.

This Thursday, Austra is premiering a 24-hour live stream of “I Feel You Everywhere,” a film of an intense solo performance of her most recent songs at Roy Thomson Hall, an esteemed venue in her hometown of Toronto. After taking the year to process her heartbreak, the event has Stelmanis once again seated in those painful memories.

https://youtu.be/9-tQaawQ8zA

I’ve known Katie for years, having been “gay-raised” in Toronto’s lesbian-leaning art and music scene in the early 2000s. In this very personal interview, Stelmanis opens up about the intricacies of lesbian romance, how to operate as an artist amidst a patriarchy that is still thriving, and even processed a brief rift between us caused by a rather unfortunate contribution on my part to scene drama!

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!! OMG, a Q&A with Claud !!

Claud Mintz by Photography by Angela Ricciardi

Photography by Angela Ricciardi

Last week, singer-songwriter Claud Mintz debuted their remarkably catchy, emotionally potent new record, Super Monster. The release holds the now very covetable status as the first entry on fellow songwriter Phoebe Bridgers’s nascent record label, The Saddest Factory (Get it? Satisfactory?).

The premiere status is bound to bring 21-year-old Claud some much-warranted attention, given Bridgers’s recent detonation into the mainstream following the success of her doom-filled 2020, Grammy nominated record, Punisher, and a much talked about appearance on Saturday Night Live (read the OMG.BLOG Q&A with Phoebe here).

Claud’s 2019’s single “I Wish You Were Gay” should have been an indication of the anthemic potential of their ability to craft relentlessly infectious pop songs, written from the perspective of a young person in and out of love through a sometimes crushingly relatable Queer lens. The songs are imbued with influences ranging from grunge to ’90s R&B to, as we touched on in our conversation, the increasingly indefinable “indie rock.”

Claud Super Monster

While the link to Bridgers and her new label will undoubtedly send fans in Claud’s direction, it’s clear that these songs stand on their own as one hell of a debut album from a fully-formed young artist.

We caught up with Claud to talk about the new record, their songwriting process, but mostly about like, love and stuff.

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!! OMG, a Q&A with Buzzy Lee !!

Buzzy Lee Sasha Spielburg

Photography by Julia Brokaw

When I sat down with Buzzy Lee, she was in the middle of a typically gruelling press-filled day for an artist promoting a new record. Given the soul-sucking repetition of the scenario, I was surprised to find her enthusiastic and conversational. Perhaps because, or in spite of having (in typical LA fashion) found time for a rather intense sounding therapy session amidst all the hubbub!

This Friday, Buzzy — whose street name is Sasha Spielberg (yes, that Spielberg) — releases Spoiled Love, her first full-length record after a string of EPs, some of which she created with her brother before choosing to step out on her own. Her last EP, 2018’s Facepaint, featured production by composer Nicolas Jaar, and the pair continue their collaboration on this record.

Buzzy Lee Spoiled LoveWe talked to Sasha about the origins of Spoiled Love, the power of crying on the dancefloor, and the hazards of living where it’s sunny all year long. Oh, and a lot of gossip about ex-boyfriends…

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!! OMG, a Q&A with Owen Pallett and Eric Kostiuk Williams !!

Owen Pallett by Jeff Bierk

Photography by Jeff Bierk

Toronto-based wunderkind, Owen Pallett, last interviewed by OMG.BLOG in 2010 following the release of his album Heartland, was one of many artists to release new music during the pandemic. No stranger to the expansive, pastoral opus, Island is Pallett’s fifth official solo full length record. On it, he continues to employ the tale of his protagonist, Lewis (who also featured on Heartland) as he traverses the world of Spectrum.

This alternate reality created by Pallett provides the foundation through which Pallett explores the often treacherous themes of solitude, trauma, sexuality and sexual identity, all encompased in the the constant state of transformation inherent in the queer experience.

Island features some of Owen’s best work, with pulverising depths tempered with moments of extreme sublimity, not a small feat to translate into a palatable (sorry) promotional visual experience of the music video format. Having collaborated with a wide variety of artists and filmmakers up to this point, it’s surprising that this key element to the last two records, with one more to come, has yet to be explored visually.

Enter Toronto-based illustrator Eric Kostiuk Williams, the award winning,  increasingly in-demand artist who’s colourful, oozy work harkens back to a time where queer culture was steeped in code and all things subterranean. His work navigates a frothy, psychedelic underworld, steeped in queer histories of club cutlure, populated by queens, freaks, perverts and demi-gods.

OMG.BLOG was proud to premiere Eric’s series The Twink Rage Revue, which went on to form the core of his book Our Wretched Town Hall.

Given the mutual otherworldliness of their work, the creative collaboration between the two friends seems overdue. Recently, though, the duo unleashed not one, but two videos in support of the record. This week in particular see’s the release of “Fire Mare,” which expands on the work they explored in a video for “Paragon of Order” shortly before that. The new single comes in advance of the vinyl release of the record, with packaging as rich as its contents.

We talked to Eric and Owen about how all these intersecting elements resulted in their collaboration and what we can expect from Owen’s as-yet-unreleased third installment in the turbulent fable of Lewis the farmer.

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!! OMG, a Q&A with Annie !!

Annie by Hildegunn Wærness

Photo by Hildegunn Wærness

Norwegian electronic pop star Annie’s first record Anniemal was unleashed to the world amidst the fever-pitch of the retro-obsessed Electroclash fad in 2004. While the stripped down, brash and snotty Electroclash movement was fleeting and dominated by one hit wonders, Annie’s Madonna-sampling first single “Greatest Hit” featured slick-but-smart pop production and giant hooks.

Now, after a ten-year hiatus from releasing music and nearly twenty years into her career as a recording artist, Annie is back with her new record, Dark Hearts. The synth-heavy, spaced-out opus was conceived as a soundtrack to an imaginary film, taking cues from the films of David Lynch and creepy folk-horror classics like Wicker Man.

It’s no surprise that, having been recorded in a haunted house on the seaside, her new record brings those darker themes to the forefront, enveloped in a more spacious, brooding, cosmic disco sound. Each song on the record acts as a sort of snapshot of varying semi-apocalyptic scenarios, all the while delivered in the singer’s trademark candied vocal style.

We talked to Annie about how 2020 has repurposed those fantasy-based constructs into an eerily real soundtrack to the life we’ve collectively entered this year, and what she’s been up to since we last heard from her.

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