Drag Race star Monét X Change may have sashayed away tonight (May 24), but fret not: she has plenty sponges to soak up those tears. The savvy queen wasted no time in dropping her debut single, aptly titled “Soak It Up.” The track and accompanying music video feature her NYC sister and Drag Race season 8 winner Bob the Drag Queen.
Billboard caught up with the sponged one to talk about the song’s inspiration (Glee‘s Alex Newell), an unexpected collaborator (Eritza Laues, who has worked with the likes of Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston) and her opera roots: “Operas are essentially drag shows, more or less. Drag just tends to have bigger lashes.”
You are determined to make this sponge thing happen, aren’t you?
Haha! I’m not trying to make it happen… it’s happening, girl! Some people think I walked into the season determined to make “a thing,” but it really was completely spontaneous. It became a lucky token for me throughout the season and the first two times I placed in the bottom I did not have it on me. It’s also really fun to see the fans latch onto it and bring me sponges in every iteration they can think of from sponge crowns to sponge dolls… I LOVE IT!
You’re a classically trained opera singer — so what made you go in this direction?
Yes! I went to school for music education and opera performance. One would think that opera is so far removed from this genre but it is actually a really big philosophy by many voice teachers that from a solid operatic technique you should be able to sing ANYTHING. I’ve always been a fan of disco, so I wanted to fuse that with R&B and pop.
What are your musical inspirations for the track?
Ok, so two things in this world that I love are Glee and disco. When Alex Newell started to produce those dance floor knockers… I was obsessed, hooked, signed, sealed and delivered! It was like if Sylvester grew up a millennial in the gay club and popped a molly or two — ICONIC! There is something very carefree and feel good about the neo-disco sound and I wanted my music to have that same vibe.
This track was co-written and produced by Eritza Laues, who’s worked with legends like Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston, as well as chart-topping Latin artists like Nicky Jam and Prince Royce. How did this collaboration work out?
Often at my shows I sing an original key cover of “And I Am Telling You”. One of those fateful nights, Eritza happened to be in the audience and came up to me after saying how impressed she was.. [She asked] if I ever wanted to record my own music [and said] she’d love to work with me. Having no idea who she was, I agreed, then later found out that she has had Billboard-charting hits. The universe always works it out!
Do you see yourself focusing on music post-Drag Race?
Music will always be a big passion of mine as it was the catalyst, through opera, that helped me discover drag. Operas are essentially drag shows, more or less. Drag just tends to have bigger lashes. There will definitely be an album! Something that expresses the multifaceted singing styles that I encompass. I want to deliver an album that incorporates multiple genres of music because — why not!?
You and Bob have known each other for a while. Has he been helpful in preparing you for post-Drag Race life?
Roberta Elaine the Drag Queen has been my best friend for a long time and besides arguing on our bi-weekly “Sibling Rivalry” Podcast, he has given me great advice — which normally ends with an expressionless, “Get ready, gurl.”
Check out the music video for “Soak It Up,” which features a cameo from season 10 sister Monique Heart, below.