Posts tagged cazwell
Have you been to Atlanta before?
I played in Macon – I know it’s different (laughs). I’m realy looking forward to it. I can tell Atlanta is gonna be one of those amped up audiences. Everyone I meet from Atlanta always has an outgoing spirit. I feel like it’s where people go out to have a good time. In New York City it’s harder to impress people. People here just look at me. They get into with their head but not really their bodies. In Atlanta it seems like people get loose.
How did you get the name Cazwell?
It’s my last name. My real name is Luke Cazwell. Only my mom calls me Luke.
Everyone I meet from Atlanta always has an outgoing spirit. I feel like it’s where people go out to have a good time.”
Do you consider yourself a singer or a rapper?
I do a little singing and rapping. Ultimately I consider myself a live performance artist. I know that sounds corny, but I always wanted to perform on stage. When I was a kid I was in acting classes, but the concept of having to say what someone else wrote never worked for me. Rap is the perfect thing for me because I don’t have to sing and I can perform what I wrote.
How would you describe the music on ‘Watch My Mouth’?
It’s dance more than anything else. There are some hip hop elements, but I wouldn’t call it a hip hop album. All the songs are different because I worked with different producers. Ultimately it’s a lighthearted dance rap album.
Was there a plan for ‘Ice Cream Truck’ to get over 1 million views the first week?
Absolutely not. When people are like ‘I knew it would be a hit,’ I’m like ‘whatever, bitch.’ There’s this movie called ‘Spork’ coming out my friend J.B. Ghuman wrote and directed. He wanted two songs for the album, and I was feeling really lazy about it. So just gave him two songs I already wrote. Because I’m thinking it’s only gonna be in the movie for seven seconds. He was like, ‘No dude, I really want you to write an original song for this.” He was really on my ass about it.
I was working in the studio and had to have something to him that night at midnight. He said the movie had a lot of 80s influences like break dancing, so he wanted something with an 80s video game feel. There’s actually a song bycalled ‘Ice Cream Truck’ that was never released, and somehow he had a version of it. I literally wrote the song in 45 minutes. I didn’t give a shit. I had like a Chinese food hangover and just didn’t care.
I literally wrote ‘Ice Cream Truck’ in 45 minutes. I had a Chinese food hangover and just didn’t care.”
We shot the whole thing at my apartment. The whole concept was me and a bunch of boys who live together in a New York City East Side apartment and there’s no air conditioning. The background is spandex fabric. The room we’re all dancing in is my bedroom/living room. We painted the ceiling Mexicana rose – I remember we thought it would be cool if we got 100,000 hits. I really didn’t care. I was just trying to make something simple. That’s what people love – they don’t really want to think, they just want to have a good time. It seems like the more retarded something is the better it does.
A lot of the lyrics are funny. Do you consider yourself a funny person?
I’m definitely a funny guy. I’m an entertainer. I just have a lot of funny friends. A lot of the lyrics on the album are funny things I’ve said or that my friends have said.
Who were some of your musical influences growing up?
Definitely the Beastie Boys, Eminem. I don’t own all of his albums or anything, but I love the fact that proved that he could do it. Because before that the only white rapper was Vanilla Ice, but people kind of laughed at the idea of a white rapper.
With your ‘I Seen Beyonce at Burger King?’ song, were you worried about a backlash?
I just thought the concept of Beyonce owing me money was funny. If you saw her and she wanted to borrow something, you would just give it to her because she’s Beyonce. Jonny Makeup was in the song because he was in a rap trio called the VIP Party Boys, and they were playing at Boy Room. Jonny Makeup doesn’t do drugs or anything, he’s just naturally nutty. He was going on this 20 minute monologue because he met Beyonce at American Apparel and she was going on about the clothes – the whole concept was hilarious to me.
I just thought it was funny that she would be at a fast food restaurant. This was at the time whenwas always in Taco Bell and it seemed like she was subtly asking for attention. If I said I saw Britney at Burger King, no one would care. But ‘I Saw Beyonce’… it’s like she’s the queen of beauty and perfection in our society. She never seems fucked up, she thanks Jesus before every award. She’s a quadruple threat.
If I said I saw Britney at Burger King, no one would care. But ‘I Saw Beyonce’… she’s the queen of beauty and perfection.”
She’s fucking perfect – you can’t throw the girl. You can tell she’s just a really good person. So the fact that she’s in a low-brow environment is just hysterical. She apparently really liked the part where the food was flying. Some of the producers I work with know her people and they said that made her laugh. The original lyric was she had a 40 oz on her lap – then I was like I’m gonna keep it funny but I’m not gonna accuse her of drinking and driving, so I changed it.
Sometimes you hold up a big phone to your ear while DJing. What is that?
That phone was my ‘head phone.’ I made it. It had a shoulder piece so I would be DJing but I was on the phone. Sometimes I have a desk with a rolodex and pencils and that is my phone. Other people decorate their headphones with crystals or whatever but I wanted to do something different and take it to the next level. The sound quality isn’t as good because you take it apart. A couple people have copied it since then. It was my idea though and you can put that in print.
How do you come up with your lyrics?
Each song is different. ‘I Seen Beyonce?’ just came to me. The more sober and clear headed I am the more open my brain is to getting new ideas. Things happen really quickly for me when I’m not fucked up. I would never smoke weed then sit down and write a song. I like to smoke weed then watch ‘American Dad.’
You’re known for having really hot guys in your videos. How do you find them?
They’re my friends. The whole ‘Ice Cream Truck’ song has a Spanish spice to it. I wanted to make a dedication to the hot Latino boys that are always on my block shirtless. I recently moved to Hell’s Kitchen, but I used to live in the East Village. Nobody got paid. We’re all friends and everyone was gay except for Geronimo.
The cover of ‘Watch My Mouth’ is kind of bloody.
Originally I was gonna have a grill on my mouth and we were gonna make it look like a timepiece. Jay Z and Kanye all have really nice watches on the cover of their album, so I was gonna make one out of tin foil and make it look like an expensive watch with diamonds and shit. But it just wasn’t working. We were doing a lot of bloody stuff at the time, so my friend who’se a makeup artist gave me a bloody lip and it looked so real.
I did a lot of colorblocking and primary colors – that’s how gay I am. I was like ‘the color blocking!’”
I did a lot of color blocking and primary colors – that’s how gay I am. I was like ‘the color blocking!’ So if the background is red my eyes are blue – it just helps to intensify everything. I know it sounds really easy, but I actually put a lot of thought into that. My videos are extremely color coordinated – I put a lot of thought into it.
You’re always so rough and tough in your songs and on your videos.
I have two brothers that were very rough growing up, so I learned at a young age how to defend myself verbally and physically. I mean I was bullied and was just as much a fag as everyone else at 13 years old. So yeah I was bullied, but the more I came into my identity the less it happened. I just had a cocky attitude most of the time. A cocky attitude is typically a straight thing. I have that same attitude except I’m gay. Like the song ‘All Over Your Face’ might be gay as far as content, but I’m talking about sex with the same entitlement as a straight person. And that’s how I think gay people should be – they shouldn’t feel that they’re different.
What are you working on now?
My plan is to drop two new singles then a new album. My new single is with Peaches. The song is called ‘Unzip Me.’ I’m shooting the video for it tomorrow. That single is some serious vision board shit because I really wanted her on my album. I met her at a party and I was like, ‘Listen girl, I really want you on it.’ I sent her two songs – one was ‘I Changed My Mind.’ But the second single is actually gonna be ‘Rice and Beans.’
The video is a different than anything I’ve ever done – this time a combination of guys and girls. It’s being directed by Stupek who directed ‘I Seen Beyonce?’ It’s a lot of cameos and individual shots of people. There’s a lot of fashion by John Renaue and Asher Levine.
Britney Spears is gonna be OK, but for independent artists like me, buy our music so we can make more. iTunes, motherfucker.”
Is it hard working as an independent artist?
If you like my music, buy it on iTunes. Britney Spears is gonna be OK, but for independent artists like me need, buy our music so we can make more. Support your independent artists.
What can we expect when you come to Jungle?
I’m gonna be performing. I don’t know about everyone else, but I’m gonna have fun!
- To learn more about Cazwell, visit him at Cazwell.com or follow him on Facebook and Twitter.
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Amanda Lepore has been a muse for celebrity photographer David LaChapelle, an icon for New York City nightlife, and a model for some of the world’s top fashion brands including Armani, M.A.C. cosmetics and Swatch.
Now she’s come into her own with the release of a new album, ‘I… Amanda Lepore‘, that she’ll perform songs from this Thursday night at .
We spoke with ‘the ‘#1 transsexual on the planet’ about her transition to becoming a woman, making music with Cazwell, and her thoughts about Chaz Bono on ‘Dancing with the Stars’…
I didn’t think you’d be up this early! (12 p.m). On your song ‘Doin It My Way’ you say, ‘I wake everyday between 2 and 3, and I roll out the bed between 3 and 4.” What time do you normally wake up?
I’m more of a night person, because I work at night. If I’m not working at night I get up around 12. If I have a photoshoot that I have to get up early for it’s difficult [laughs].
Classic blonde movie stars allowed me to escape because I was an outcast and spent a lot of time alone. I was made fun of a lot, so I wanted to be like them.”
One of my favorite songs of yours is ‘Marilyn,’ Who were some of your icons growing up?
I definitely like a lot of the old movie stars. They allowed me to escape because I was an outcast and spent a lot of time alone. I liked the classic blondes like Marilyn Monroe. I was made fun of a lot so I wanted to be like them. I was a transsexual, so I wanted to have their femininity. They were artificially made up by themselves or the studios, so I learned I could copy them. It was fun to do my hair and wear glamorous clothes.
Tell me about ‘Cotton Candy.’
‘Cotton Candy’ is actually a love story about an ex-boyfriend. It’s cute. It’s a reference to a sweet guy, it actually has nothing to do with the candy. A lot of my boyfriends were big brutes, then I went out with a college kid who was really sweet. So Cazwell wrote that because the guy wasn’t really my type.
Some of your lyrics are funny, like in ‘My Hair Looks Fierce’ when Cazwell says who made your dress and you say, ‘some Mexican children in an L.A. Sweat Shop.’
Cazwell is always with me, so sometimes when he hears me say something he puts it in a song. I was at the Grammy awards and took off my dress and I said, ‘I don’t know much about clothes but my hair looks fierce!’ So Cazwell took that and turned it into a song. Although my apartment is kind of like an L.A. sweat shop… there are hairpieces all over.
Your album has some comical lyrics. Do you think of yourself as a funny person?
It’s kind of autobiographical. I have a funny life. I don’t take anything too seriously. I’m very light.
There are people out there who will like you for being different. You don’t have to conform to society to find happiness and acceptance.”
My other favorite song of yours is ‘Look At Me Now’ where you talk about being bullied growing up. What would you say to kids out there who are going through that?
You just have to realize that for all the people who bully you and don’t like you, there are people out there who will like you for being different. It’s really hard at the time because you can’t get out of it when you’re being supported by your parents. I’ts not forever, but it seems like it at the time. There is hope, though. You don’t have to conform to society to find happiness and acceptance.
When I think of the New York City club scene celebrities, I think of you, Cazwell, Richie Rich and Marco Ovando who often directs your videos. How would you describe your group?
We’re creative, we don’t just go out. For me it started out as just going out that was my job. We’re friends first from over the years which is why we want to work with each other. We were friends for a long time before we started working together.
How did you and Cazwell meet?
I used to do makeup at Patrica Field and his boyfriend worked there. I used to have these big blowout birthday parties once a year so I asked him do it and he was so excited. He was watching me partying at my birthday, and he wrote Champagne about it. He showed it to me later and said he spent a lot of time on it and wanted to do it really well. I was really nervous because his songs have a lot of lyrics. But he helped me learn them. It’s easier for me to learn the words to songs now, but it was really hard for me when I was getting started. It took me like three months to learn the words to ‘Champagne’!
There’s a lot of synergy and collaboration between you guys, which is nice to see since there’s so much cut-throat competition in the club world, especially in New York City.
We’re doing something constructive instead of destructive. People get sick of cattiness. We have something to offer and we’re making something productive from our situation.
There’s a lot of ignorance out there because people don’t really understand transsexuals. It’s like the last taboo.”
Do you ever get jealous of each others’ successes?
No, we’re honestly happy for each other. We’re not competitive. We’re so different so that helps.
Everyone is talking about Chaz Bono being on ‘Dancing with the Stars.’ What are your thoughts about why some people are upset with the show for putting her on?
I think it’s great. I’m all for it. There’s a lot of ignorance out there because people don’t really understand transsexuals. It’s like the last taboo. There’s a lot of prejudice for sure. If there wasn’t, she would just be dancing and no one would care.
I don’t watch TV, because there was a point where I was watching a lot of TV like E! True Hollywood Stories and Ricki Lake, so I disconnected my cable. Now I go to the gym a lot and watch a lot of movies.
What kind of movies do you like?
I like Gene Harlow, Marilyn Monroe, Jane Mansfield. I watch the same movies over and over. Initially I watched them for techniques and dresses. I love the old MGM musicals. It’s just funny how I watch the same movies again and again in the background. I watch this movie ‘Gilda’ all the time, then I bust out and sing every word.
When did you realize you wanted to be a woman?
I thought I was a girl as far back as I can remember. I thought my parents were just punishing me by cutting my hair and not buying me girl’s things. I wanted to change as soon as I found out information that said you could. You feel like you’re born in the wrong body. I think it’s genetic. Even for gay people, you’re born that way.
I thought I was a girl as far back as I can remember. I thought my parents were just punishing me by cutting my hair and not buying me girl’s things.”
How hard was the transition?
For me it was easier. It was a lot harder to not do it. I started really young, so I was lucky. The male stuff didn’t really have time to develop because I started taking hormones when I was 15 and was transitioned by the time I was 18. My mother was schizophrenic, and she wanted me to wait to have surgery until I was 21 to make sure I didn’t regret it. I had a boyfriend at the time whosefather legally adopted me, so I was able to get the surgery without my mother’s consent. They felt sorry for me because my mother was hospitalized, so they kind of took me up.
What is it like working with David LaChapelle, who calls you his muse?
It was really hard at first because I always did a blond bombshell look, but when I worked with him he really took me apart. I had to really let myself go. A lot of his stuff is really specific because he’s so meticulous and knows exactly what he wants. There are elaborate sets and I get to work with the greatest makeup artists, so I’ll ask them questions like, ‘What foundation do you love?’
The hairdressers love me because I love playing with my hair. I’m like a hairdressers dream. Sometimes they even do my hair when I’m not working. David would get mad because he paid them so much money to my hair on the set, but they were doing it for free when we were just having out.
The lipstick ad for Heatherette and MAC was really difficult. The lipstick was actually scratching my skin. Once I was in a bubble with a metal helmet, and when I got home my head actually swelled up. It’s not always pleasant, but David’s photos are amazing when they’re done.
In most of your David LaChapelle photos, you’re squirting milk or paint or fire out of your vagina. What is the symbolism behind that?
It’s a superhero kind of thing. Female superiority. Power. Also kind of like, ‘fuck you.’ Very much like my song, ‘Look at Me Now.’ That’s the message. I just do what David tells me to do. I wasn’t expecting all of his shoots to be so meaningful and conceptual, but I think that’s why people like them. They’re not just beautiful photos, there’s meaning behind it them.
My goal in life when I was getting my sex change was just to work at the mall and be left alone. To have been able to do all these things is amazing to me.”
What was it like working on the Armani ad with a naked Ryan Phillippe?
He was so cute. It was right before he became famous when he was in ‘Studio 54.’ He was very professional. That shoot was hard to do as well because it was cold out and it was a raining scene. There was cold rain pouring all over us and we were both naked. But he was nice and cute as can be.
You’re often nude in your photos. How did you become so comfortable with your body?
Well I go-go danced as a club kid. I like showing off my body but not totally. I remember one time I was doing a shoot for David and I was supposed to be topless with some girls and I didn’t do it. But David made me feel really comfortable. When I do stuff naked it makes people happy, so I just keep doing it. Now I go to clubs naked. I feel like I look better with less clothes.
What was it like working with Courtney Love in her photoshoot, where you’re a dominatrix spanking her butt while she’s on all fours?
I was just going to watch Courtney was doing her photoshoot at this club, and David stuck me in the photos. At one point she asked me to give her some of my pills to pose with. She said, “Don’t worry, I’m not going to take them – then she shoved them in her mouth and swallowed them!’ She was crazy [laughs].
Is it true you once worked as a dominatrix?
Yes that’s true.
I saw you perform with Lil Kim in New York at Club 57 recently. What was it like working with her?
I had met her at a MAC party when she had just gotten out of jail. And she said, ‘I just wanted to thank you for your song ‘Champagne’ because I sang it in my cell every day.’ So that’s how that performance came about. It was amazing that I loved her music before, and she knew my song!
You’ve been in a video with Ryan Phillippe for Armani and a video for Elton John’s Las Vegas stage show. Did you ever imagine these kinds of things would happen in your life?
My goal in life when I was getting my sex change was just to work at the mall and be left alone. If I had a crystal ball when I was getting my sex change as a kid that all these things would happen, I wouldn’t believe it. To have been able to do all these things is amazing to me.
Listen to Amanda Lepore’s ‘Convertible’ with M.Y.A. from ‘I… Amanda Lepore‘…