Interview: Big Freedia Is the Queen of Bounce, In New Orleans and Beyond
By Shannon Carlin
Bounce music was once an underground genre that the people of New Orleans were able to keep all to themselves for over 20 years. That was until Big Freedia — real name Freddie Ross — was crowned the Queen of Bounce and taught the rest of the world how much more fun her hometown’s music is than yours.
Since 1999, Big Freedia — a gay man commonly referred to using female pronouns — has been making music and touring the world with a live show that gets women bouncing, shaking, wiggling, wobbling, werking and twerking. Though, Freedia is quick to say she’s over the twerk craze that Miley Cyrus helped usher into the vernacular of the general population. The word even earned itself a spot in the online version of the Oxford Dictionary last year, defined as a “dance to popular music in a sexually provocative manner involving thrusting hip movements and a low, squatting stance.” It should be noted however that Freedia currently holds the Guinness World Record for Most People Twerking Simultaneously.
“We’ve been twerking for years,” Freedia told Radio.com over the phone. “It’s just one of many things we do in Bounce music.”
Freedia got her start 16 years ago as a backup dancer and singer for the drag queen Katey Red, who was Freedia’s childhood neighbor in New Orleans. It was Katey Red who introduced her to the Bounce scene, which is one enormous party. The music itself a fast paced mix of hip-hop and electronic music that relies heavily on repetition, while the live shows often hinge on audience participation, whether it’s call-and-response sing-alongs or some booty poppin’ dance moves.
At Big Freedia’s shows, she is in full control, urging women to shake their ass, watch themselves, and make sure the men don’t take advantage of their loss of inhibitions. And at 6-foot-2, Freedia doesn’t have any trouble keeping the men at bay.