The rapper chats with us about his new podcast with Drag Race superstar Miss Peppermint and releasing his first ever love song.
Interview by Reid Cammack
Everything is a mess and Cazwell knows it! Your favorite out rapper just launched his new advice podcast It’s A Mess and is ready to share his opinions on your life’s biggest issues with fellow co-host, longtime friend and RuPaul’s Drag Race superstar Miss Peppermint.
Each week, the It’s A Mess hosts give listeners advice on topics ranging from revenge to making a successful Drag Race audition tape. The two hosts don’t hold back as they give their unfiltered opinions and share personal stories from their own lives.
Along with the podcast, Cazwell is also dropping new summertime bops for his fans. He recently released tracks with Drag Race superstars Yvie Oddly and Manila Luzon. Last year he even dropped an EP, Blend, with Peppermint. The rapper, never afraid to mix it up, went in a different direction for his newest single. The song, I Love You, marks Cazwell’s first ever release of a love song. The track features former Scissor Sisters member Bridget Barkan singing a version of Ooh Boy by Rose Royce.
I had a chance to chat with Cazwell about his newest single, collaborating with the biggest names in Drag Race and if there’s anything he won’t give advice about on his new podcast.
Cammack: You just released your new single I Love You. It sounds a little different than a lot of your music and is exploring some different themes. What made you want to go the route of a love song?
Cazwell: That’s kinda a tough one. To be totally honest, I wanted to do a song with a flute originally. I was working with a producer and we came up with some riffs. We came up with a riff I really liked and I’m like, “Let’s have the sounds as a whistle.” So we combined the whistle with the flute. I’m like, “Oh, this is perfect.”
This song – I don’t even remember writing it… I really don’t remember where I was. I don’t remember if it was on a piece a paper or if it was on a computer. It’s almost like this was a download from up above and somebody put it in my head. It’s one of those songs that literally wrote itself. So I don’t really remember, but I do think that it was coming from a place of self-love. I’m not in love. I’m single as a Pringle. One of my goals this year is not to be in a relationship. I’m trying to focus on myself and when I’m in a relationship I tend to really focus on the other person and I’m really trying to take care of myself this year. So I think that it really came from a sense of self-love.
You said you wanted to do a song with a whistle or flute tone and you sample the song Ooh Boy in the chorus. In the process of writing the song, did you start with the sample and go from there? Did you start with the flute tune and go from there? How did Ooh Boy get mixed into the song?
It really just came to me. I just started singing that hook and I was like, “Maybe we can make a hook that sounds just like it. Maybe we can get someone to do a hook. Maybe we can just be inspired by it.” I just looked at the possibility of recreating a sample, which is not very hard to do. I have own record label now, so I talked to the guy that does my digital distribution… It was pretty easy and we got permission right away. I got my friend Bridget to sing on it. I’ve worked with her before on a couple things. She has a great voice, so I knew it was the right thing.
With I Love You, like I said, it is a little different for you. Do you have any other different themes or styles of music that you want to explore and try out in the future?
Yeah. I mean, I’m not looking to do country or anything like that, but I’m pretty schizophrenic already with my musical choices, so I jump around a lot from doing things – to house, to hip hop, to trap. So in some ways it’s in my benefit and in some ways it kinda shakes up my audience a little bit, but I just gotta do what comes naturally and work with what I have. Like a lot of musical artists, I’m not really in a position of which I can go into the studio and pay an engineer and a producer and have a producer go in for two months and put together a full-length album. So many producers are also DJs and they’re backed up with other things now. So many things are on email, so you’re working with different producers with different musical sensibilities. That’s just kind of the way it happens. I’ve never really set out to just do one sound for a long period of time.
Over the years you have been featuring them, but especially now, there’s a lot of Drag Race queens on your tracks. There’s Peppermint and you have Yvie Oddly. What goes into working with them?
Well that didn’t happen by design. I mean, I’ve been working with Peppermint. We’ve been friends for like 20 years…
So we did the EP with Peppermint, me and this guy, Craig C. And then Manilla had asked me to do a song, but we actually did the song before she came out on All Stars. And then I said to Craig, “Let’s just do a brand new queen. Somebody that we love.” And he was like, “Oh, there’s this fierce queen in Denver called Yvie Oddly. Check her out.” I’m like, “Oh, I live. Let’s do something with her.” I talked to Yvie on the phone. We got it together. We started doing vocals. And then we were just working on it here and there for like two months. We got the vocals down. And then they release the queens for season 11 and she’s on there. I’m like, “Holy shit! I can’t escape this.” I remember going into it like, “I hope that she’s one of the favorite queens.” …And then she wins!
But at the same time, I feel like the drag queens of RuPaul’s Drag Race are the gay world’s superstars. So it would be no different than if I was a straight, signed rapper and working with Rihanna and Beyoncé and Miley Cyrus like everyone does. Those queens are the gay world’s superstars, so it kinda makes sense.
No, it totally does. They’re the biggest celebrities in the queer world right now.
Yeah, so why not?
Do you have any Drag Race or non-Drag Race queens that you want to have on a track?
Me and BenDeLaCreme have been talking for a long time about doing a track. I really like her. I would really like to do a track with Rhea Litré, who’s really big in LA.
I love Rhea. I really like to do a track with her too. I’m trying to put together another track with Amanda Lepore. That takes some time because she’s in New York and I usually practice with her in LA, so that takes a little more time and is more of a delicate process.
Do you ever think we’ll ever get a possible sequel to Blend and see you and Peppermint make more music together?
Oh yeah. Me and Pepp are always talking about it. Pepp’s always doing something and making music and so am I. I think that will happen. I think me and Peppermint will be making music together for the rest of our lives. We both have the same passion as far as writing and recording and performing and performing our own music. So I think that will definitely happen. We have some ideas brewing.
And of course you guys just started your own podcast, so congrats on that! What made you guys want to start working on a podcast together?
Well it was my idea. This is the year that, A, I don’t have a boyfriend. And B, I throw everything at the wall and see what sticks. I’m really doing everything I can as far as my DJ career, my label dropping music as often as possible and I really wanted to do a podcast. I like the idea of doing a podcast with another person involved. I wanted to do it with Peppermint, because if I do something with her businesswise, I’ll finally be able to lock her down for seven minutes. (Laughs) Ever since she got on that fucking show she lives in an airport, she’s on Broadway, she’s in rehearsal, she’s traveling, she’s on a bus, she’s on a train, she’s in a car, she’s sleeping, and she’s in another country 18 hours behind me or something. It’s always so important to find a reason that she has to get on the phone with me. So this way, we keep our friendship going. It’s good that we have a project together. It’s something that we both really care about. It doesn’t have to be current. We’re not doing hot topics and things like that. It can work with her schedule right now. We would like to move in that direction eventually, but right now it’s an advice podcast.
I was going to ask – why specifically did you guys want to do an advice podcast? Peppermint mentioned in the first episode that you’re really great at giving advice, but what made you want to go in the direction of an advice podcast?
I like the idea of giving my opinion on other people’s problems. I’m an opinionated person and so is Peppermint. I also know we both approach giving people help differently. Peppermint is very nice and kind and likes to dissolve any issue right away. And I’m… different. (Laughs) I’m slightly more vengeful. Peppermint probably has the approach to be the bigger person and I’m ten steps behind her on that.
I think you guys work really well together on the podcast. I’ve been enjoying it a lot. With the questions you’ve gotten so far though, they’ve ranged from sex questions to revenge to possible domestic violence. Are there any subjects that you guys are hesitant to talk about or that you just won’t talk about on the podcast?
Definitely nothing so far. The only questions that we don’t want to answer are people who are like, “Hey, I’m single! How can I find a man?” Or just something really stupid and short. We like it when people give us a lot of details. We’re not going to shy away from something just because it’s serious, but when we put it on an episode, we probably want to mix it up so it’s not an entirely serious show. So I think one of the most recent shows we recorded there was something about gay adoption and there was another about how someone’s coworker’s breath stinks and how to tell them. We want to keep it balanced.
On one of the more recent-ish episodes, you talked about how you wanted the podcast to evolve and you’re adding new segments. Is there anything new we should be looking forward to or anything you’re going to try out on the podcast?
One thing that we know we want to do is have a segment called “Amazing Queens” and dedicate a segment to someone in the LGBTQ community that was done something really amazing for the community and something that we can shine a light on. It could be somebody that’s famous, but it could also be a gay person that just did something – a major achievement done by an LGBTQ person… This is a podcast for the community and we want to insert that as much as possible into the podcast to make the LGBTQ community feel good about themselves and feel heard. That’s something that’s important to us. We’re going to start a season two after episode 8 and that’s probably when we will implement that.
New episodes of It’s A Mess come out every Thursday
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