Bubble Ball is one sud you should definitely pop. The virtual drag and music event happening online Saturday at 6PM EST is sure to be an upbeat party for a good cause – all proceeds are going to Mermaid UK, an organization that supports trans children and their families. You can buy tickets here.
We got to talk to the other two performers whose titles and identities are slightly more afflux. Already having dealt with high-level producers and taking the traditional route after attending the Conservatory of Music at Purchase College in New York, Madeline Mondrala is ready to take full ownership of her artistry and embark on a part of deliberate authenticity under her new moniker, That Brunette.
Tay Richardson, on the other hand, is a they of even more names. When performing their subdued R&B fusion, they go by EVZDRAPS, but when donning a beard and plenty of glitter + leather, you may refer to them respectfully as Ryder Lickquor.
We asked both folx a few questions so you could get to know them before the party starts:
Your singles are very poppy and upbeat – will your upcoming EP, “Millennium Fig,” explore a different side of your sound?
“Millennium Fig” is definitely a bit more contemplative. It still has a pop feel to it, but the lyrics I [wrote] for these two songs led me to more of a musing soundscape that lends itself to the introspective subject matter. I love these songs because you can dance to them if you’re feeling happy, fun and free, or you can vibe to them if you happen to be in your feelings.
Who are your musical influences?
My influences run the gamut. I grew up loving Joni Mitchell, Hole, Chairlift, Rilo Kiley, Erykah Badu, The Shins, the list goes on. Lately I’ve been loving Caroline Polachek, Sudan Archives, Dounia, Empress Of, Tove Lo, Banoffee, Christine and the Queens, Georgia, ROSALÍA, Salt Cathedral, and of course Taylor Swift.
How did you first get intertwined in the drag scene?
When I moved to Bushwick, I started going out to the queer bars in the area like Metropolitan, Macri Park, and The Rosemont, seeing local queens perform their hearts out was really inspiring. At the same time, I was becoming a super-fan of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Watching the episodes in packed pre-corona gay bars with my friends and peers was invigorating and gave me a sense of community like I’d never experienced before. I also had close friends that were getting into drag themselves, and I loved supporting their self-expression and watching them slay the stage.
Why did you decide to switch gears and go under the moniker That Brunette?
I wanted to choose a name for myself as the older, wiser womxn I am today. I also wanted to let go of the negative connotations my previous name held for me. I had a rough start to my music career. It involved a lot of lies, manipulation and false promises. I wanted to honor my evolution and experience by giving myself a fresh start. That Brunette is equal parts authentic and indistinct. I love it’s simplicity and straight-forwardness.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I’m super excited for the release of “Millennium Fig” and for Bubble Ball. I’m really happy to be involved in a livestream show that directly supports trans and gender variant youth and their families. All the performers and collaborators involved are excessively talented, and I’m honored to on the same bill as all of them.
What are your names and pronouns?
My name is Tay, and my pronouns are they/them. When in drag, I go by Ryder Lickquor. Ryder identifies as a Drag Quing and uses the pronouns he/they.
Where are you based out of?
I’m currently based in San Diego, CA, but I come from the East Coast!
How do you define drag?
I define drag as the intentional exploration and exaggeration of gender expression. Folks do that through looks and makeup, lip sync/live performance, comedy, etc. At the end of the day, I think we’re really taking folks on a journey through gender and its possibilities.
How does drag kingdom help with the exploration of your masculine side?
Hmm…this is a very interesting question. I think what my drag has really allowed me to explore is the feminine sides of masculinity with more comfort and confidence.
I’ve seen many Drag Kings lean more toward the hyper-masculine side of expression and emphasis. That’s not Ryder. He’s loving, goofy, sensual, angry, and passionate, and expresses himself in all of those ways.
In that, he allows me to model and challenge different ways that masculinity can be lived and expressed. Ryder can feel like an escape from my fears and insecurities sometimes.
When, and why, did you first get into drag?
I was interested in drag before this, but I first got into drag when I was in college. I went to a school that really celebrated drag and expression! There was one large drag ball that happened annually, but folks would do drag for different events and parties throughout the year.
I worked myself up to performing for the first time during the second part of my freshman year and grew from there! It definitely aligned with my personal exploration of gender.
This was around the same time that I began to feel as though I had the permission to view gender as something other than what I was taught and socialize[d] into.
How is your drag different than what people might expect?
I think the storytelling aspect of my performances can be a little different than what folks expect when going to experience a drag number. I like to edit different music together and take folks on a journey with intention.
I noticed you do music as well, when did you first get into creating songs?
I started creating songs when I was really little…probably way back in elementary school. Music has always been something that is extremely important to me.
I used to create little songs in my head that I eventually started writing down. As I got older, I started learning different instruments and incorporating them into my music. Now I write and record stuff at home and am always open to collaborating with other artists.
Do you incorporate live singing into your shows?
I have! I haven’t done it as much as I would like, but I have done some live singing. It’s so much fun though! When I’m Ryder, and I sing live, it’s almost as if Ryder and Tay become more in sync. I’m able to connect with the crowd on an even deeper level. It’s such an interesting feeling.
Who are your drag idols or style icons?
Some style icons of mine would definitely be Prince, Jon Snow from GOT [Game of Thrones] Janelle Monáe, the entire aesthetic of the 1996 film, Romeo + Juliet, Jaden Smith, Vampires, Gomez, and Morticia Addams to name a few!
One of my drag idols will always be my Drag Mama, Miz Jade, who is based in Brooklyn, NY. She is such an incredibly hard worker, and I have learned so much from her over the years. There are so many layers to her and the type of drag that she creates, and she fiercely advocates for inclusion within the drag/nightlife community.
It’s easy to see that Drag King/Drag Quing representation is not as present and celebrated as Drag Queens. The recognition of black drag performers, overall, is another area of improvement within nightlife. Miz Jade makes to sure to book Drag Kings and black drag performers for her gigs knowing that they aren’t booked as abundantly. She inspires me to keep creating and keep evolving.
How has quarantine changed the ways you approach performances?
Quarantine has allowed me to reimagine how my performances can look and be facilitated. I’ve had a few gigs (and am accepting more!) during quarantine, and each one has allowed me to get really creative with how I utilize my space and try to connect with folks through a computer screen.
For my pre-recorded performances, I have been able to use editing to create some interesting dynamics I could never do with a live performance. I do still miss the energy of an in-person crowd and being able to reach out and touch folks.
What exciting projects are you working on? Anything cool you’ve made during quarantine?
I made a holder for my records out of wood that I’m honestly super proud of! Outside of that, I’m actually working on returning to my music. I’m in the process of writing music and am looking for producers and other artists for collaboration.
I’ve move all of my creative projects (outside of drag) to be under the moniker of EVZDRAPS. I chose the name EVZDRAPS because a large part of my creation process is to listen and observe.
I’m secretly listening to, and taking in, my surroundings and turning what I learn into experiences. This includes listening in on conversations with myself and challenging my vulnerability. Eavesdropping (editor’s note: evzdrapping). I’m excited to share some things that I’m working on and to introduce the world to EVZDRAPS.
A BIG thank you to all of the artists for their time, thoughtful answers, and support for a great cause. Be sure to tune in on Saturday (Aug 29th) at 6PM EST for Bubble Ball!