Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Underground Gay Music Series Exclusive: A Short Q & A w/ Hi Fashion!

I don't even know where to begin when talking about the high energy, dance music, haute couture powerhouse that is Hi Fashion. So, I guess I will just start at the beginning.  Once upon a time, in a land far, far away...

The eclectic musical duo HI FASHION first crossed paths on the dance floor of a gay bar. Rick Gradone thought Jen DM was a guy and approached her with the intention of picking her up. After chatting and discovering their love of music and that they were both queer, a friendship began. Jen invited him to perform with her for a Pixies tribute night she organized as a benefit for a LA charity organization. Once he heard her powerhouse voice, he was instantly obsessed with working with her. He asked her to make a project with him to which she promptly said, “NO.” Undaunted, he wrote 3 tracks and sent them to her asking if she would listen to them. They have been working together ever since and one of those songs became the basis of “AMAZING!”

The "Amazing" single came out in 2010. In 2011, they released the EP Sprechen Sie Hi Fashion? Their incredible videos have appeared  on Perez Hilton, Gangster Says Relax, New Now Next, Out Magazine, The Advocate, and pretty much everywhere else! They are back in 2013 with a terrific new EP called You Are Gorgeous! with tons of new remixes, music videos, and dance beats you can't help but to wiggle your tush to! ( can stream You Are Gorgeous HERE!) If Hi Fashion doesn't make you smile, you are probably dead inside. 

Luckily, we were able to corner Rick and Jen DM in a truck stop bathroom and force them to answer a few of our questions.

Q: You guys have a pretty amazing story of how you met. What do you think you would be doing if you hadn't had that chance encounter?
RICK: I would probably working as a janitor in the red light district in Amsterdam. Either that or a physicist. Quantum Mechanics is my SECOND favorite thing after Jen DM
JEN: I'd be doing a lot of unsuccessful decoupage.

Q: Based on your touring experience, how strong is the underground LGBT music scene? 
RICK: I think its growing and thank god its because of the computer. Now with social media there is are so many ways to find your people. We find our people everyday because of it and that's INCREDIBLE. And it has also made it possible for bands like us who are totally independent to thrive and find an audience.
JEN: I concur, it's growing, it's thriving, and we are so thrilled to be a part of this movement. Anything goes these days in this industry, and there's just the right amount of anarchy that inspires us and many others to say fuck it, I'm out, I'm an artist, I believe in what I'm doing, and I want people to hear what I have to say. 

Q: Ok...I have watched the You Tuk My Luk video like 10 times and I have questions. First...Who has a corded phone anymore? Second...Who has a 4 digit phone number?!!
RICK: I AM SO THRILLED BEYOND BY THIS!!!! One of my closest friends in Brooklyn still has a corded phone in fact and I find it incredibly sexy. The thought that when you are talking to him he has to sit on a chair in the kitchen boggles my mind and makes you KNOW that you are important. We laughed our asses off about the 4 digit number. I ADORE YOU FOR NOTICING.

Q: What's the funniest thing that has happened to you on tour?
RICK: We inexplicably became obsessed with DONUTS this year on tour. It turned into something that we MUST FIND when we go to a city. I think Voodoo Donuts in Portland may have won the prize for most extreme fantastic donut so far. But as far as an actual event, for me, maybe it was being proposed to after we got off stage in Sydney, Australia when we played at Mardi Gras. Naturally I accepted. 
JEN: What's funny is that I've NEVER been proposed to. What the fuck--isn't that why anyone does this? :) Kidding. The funniest thing that ever happens on tour is every single thing that happens on tour--because Rick is one of the funniest people I know, and between him and our dancers, the show kind of never stops. Without laughter I don't think we could do this!

Q: Your live show seems pretty intense and also dependent on all your electronic gizmos functioning properly. Has your gear ever betrayed you on stage?
RICK: So many times I shudder to even count. One time, we had all the dancers and Jen inside of giant parachute that was supposed to explode open after a video of Godzilla played. The video played, the parachute exploded open and jen started singing.... into a dead mic. We had to stop and start the whole show over and it took 10 MINUTES to work it out. My whole life passed before my eyes in that time and it wasnt pretty. Luckily when the mic got fixed after what seemed an EPOCH, she said to the crowd, "OK. Now we are going to get BACK into this parachute, and YOU are going to pretend you have NO IDEA WE ARE IN HERE or what's going to happen OK? HERE WE GO!" Everyone screamed and when it finally opened up again the crowd went wild. THAT'S why I love this woman.
JEN: We are built to roll with it and anticipate 23-45 glitches per show- and when only 18 happen, we're like, 'what a breeze!' Not so much about electronic hiccups, but an improv moment nonetheless: when we played Austin Pride the plan was we'd be driven through the parade in this 1963 black convertible Lincoln Continental to a spot mid parade where we'd get out and sing AMAZING for the crowd, then resume our ride. Cunt, no? Well there we are, fanning ourselves, flipping our extensions, owning the bliss of being in the parade, when the car breaks down many yards before our we got out, pushed it to the side of the road, peaced out to the driver, and then vogue marched our way to the performance spot-where we sang in the middle of the street and got the whole crowd to sing with us. Yum.

Visit Hi Fashion's Facebook Page! 
**Main photo by Shawn Smith.

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