Photo: Santiago Felipe
Alaska Thunderfuck is a bonafide superstar. After appearing in the fifth series of RuPaul’s Drag Race, she went on to win last year’s All Stars 2 and had monumental success with her 2015 debut album Anus after it topped the iTunes Dance albums chart.
What’s special about Alaska is her ability to take her career seriously but herself not so seriously – she’s hilariously witty and ready to take on the world at any given moment. This year saw her release that difficult second album, Poundcake – its namesake acting as a tribute to the no-fucks-given pageant doll Alaska created during her time on RuPaul’s Drag Race – with singles ‘The T’, ‘STUN’ and ‘Puppet’ proving Alaska’s talent in churning out hit after hit.
Ahead of her appearance at Thekla on Sunday 30th July (where she’ll be performing a 90 minute full show) we spoke to Alaska about 2017, what she’s discovered about her art and why it’s always important to break the rules.
We’re half-way through the year already! What have been some of your highlights?
This year has been really crazy. I just got back from South America where I got to go to Lima, Peru, Santiago, Chile, and Sao Paulo, Brazil. The fans are so amazing down there. They know the words to all of my songs, so whenever I forget the words they are always there singing along to remind me.
You had such a huge success with 2015’s Anus – what did you learn from that experience that you brought to Poundcake?
I love the format of a complete album. I grew up with No Doubt’s Tragic Kingdom and just listened to it over and over as a kid. And even now when I go back to listen to the work of other artists I like to find the full albums and listen to them in order. There’s something about a bunch of songs that tell a cohesive story. So I’m glad we got to do that again with Poundcake. I also thought about what they would look like on the shelf next to each other. Anus was the white album. Poundcake is the pink one.
There’s definitely a sort of bubble of drag music that it can be difficult to break out of and you’re one of the few queens to have done so. Was that something you intended from the beginning?
I make music for a very specific niche of people who knows what is what when it comes to all things drag. I’m honored and happy to be in that bubble. If it goes beyond that, that’s cool too.
You’ve previously said that it’s important for you that the visual goes so hand in hand with the music, so how did you approach the visuals for the new album? Aesthetically, what was most important to you?
The fun part of doing drag is getting to do a little bit of everything. I get to do the graphic design, I get to be the model, I get to record the music and do it live and give creative input on the music videos. I got to collaborate with Katelyn and Ben Simkins on the video for “The T” which was a series of really long shots with no takes and a big star-studded cast. It had a lot of challenges on the way but I’m really happy with how it turned out. Oh, and my mom was in it too, so that’s cool.
Why do you think the character of Poundcake is so popular with so many people?
I think she has an anti-establishment point of view. She comes from the pageant system, which is very rigid and very strict about its rules and regulations, and she clearly has broken all of them and become sort of a renegade. I think that a lot of people feel pissed off about the establishment and so she’s a hero for all of them.
Most of your music is centered around humour – what’s the process of coming up with the material?
I keep notes all the time for song ideas, raps, rhymes, lines– you name it. So I can sort of feel when it’s time to birth out a new album. It reaches like a swelling point and my vagina dilates and it has to be born.
What do you want Poundcake to represent? What do you want it to say to people?
Poundcake is for drag, by drag. It’s point of view is defiantly all things drag, and so it’s for anyone out there who likes to break rules and dismantle the patriarchy.
Has creating music allowed you to explore aspects of Alaska that you otherwise may not have? Does it give you an outlet to showcase different sides?
I love making music. It’s very intimate. I love listening to an album in my earbuds over and over and finding new details in the words or in the production each time. So getting to do that is a great joy to me and I love it. The songs definitely offer a peek into my deranged mind, and I like that.
What can we expect from this tour?
It’s a surprise– which is to say, I don’t know yet. You should expect to see music from the new album, some stolen things, some old stuff. But I’m also bringing my best friend and musical collaborator Jeremy with me, so we’ll have a chance to unplug and let people see Alaska with just a piano, which we’ve never gotten to fully do in the UK. So I’m excited about that.
Alaska Thunderfuck plays Thekla on Sunday, 30th July. Grab a ticket here!