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Sunday, August 3, 2014

The Diva Behind the Mask: Exclusive Q&A with Masquerade

Masquerade is another hot summer diva, along with Toni Sea and DeVonde Williams, off Inaya Day's new dance-music label. Masquerade is quite a charmer; at turns clever, campy, hilarious, theatrical, always entertaining... and that's just in this interview! Can't wait to see her later this month @ Icon, NYC. Ladies & gentlemen, I present the one, the only, the divine Masquerade!

Dj Buddy Beaverhausen: Welcome, Masquerade, to our Q&A, where dance music fans around the world can get to know you a little better. For one thing, your name. How did you come to reinvent yourself as the house-music diva known, alluringly, as Masquerade?

Masquerade: Thank you! I’m glad to be here! Hmmm, MASQUERADE. The truth of the matter is I was terrified of entering the world of Dance Music. Especially since Inaya Day would then become a colleague of sorts-and have you heard her?! I mean, there are some serious, certified DIVAS in Dance that I’d have to contend with. So I needed something to hide behind; you know, just in case! There's that, in addition to the fact that Masquerade is just one of my musical personas, and I kind of wanted to keep them all separate.

DBB: You have a very hot new dance track entitled "Higher." Can you tell us a little about that and the remix ep coming from Ny-O-Dae music?

M: Well, I actually wrote “Higher” for Inaya! She loved it, but had already recorded an album’s worth of material that was on a tight release schedule. She told me that I had two options: to wait ‘til she released all of her new music (which could take well over a year!) or I could do it myself. That’s when I told her that I don’t sing “House Music ” and she replied, “Why not?!” (With that- “Stop being a punk”- tone in her voice), and I just couldn't come up with a good enough reason not to! So I guess HIGHER created Masquerade! Inaya signed the song to her label, and has been instrumental in creating all of these amazing opportunities that keep rolling in! They are all different, and it’s crazy hearing what these fabulous producers came up with! Remixes from Mike Jolly, Lucius Lowe, Phonix & Yllavation, Samuri Divided souls and La Alen, and Deep Dive Corp! They feel like totally new songs!

DBB:Ny-O-Dae is the hot new label from recording artist Inaya Day. How did you two divas hook up?

M: Inaya and I have been friends for years! I actually used to tour manage her around 2004-2006. We met through her late brother Schon Jomel Crawford many years before, who was my musical mentor, putting me on the stage at night clubs in NY since I was 16! He was also an amazing singer.

DBB: New Yorkers can see you performing soon, at Icon in Queens, where I look forward to seeing you live. Can you share the date and tell us a little of what we might expect from you?

M: Yes! I’ll be at Icon on Friday August 15. You can expect me to look nothing like any of the pictures you’ve seen! I don’t even know what I’m going wear yet... but it will be HAWTTT!! Expect to have a blast and to sing along to Higher- because I will be testing... you especially!

DBB:You performed at Chicago Pride Fest earlier this summer. What was that like and is there anything in particular you'd like to say to your LGBT fans?

M: Performing at Chicago Pridefest was exhilarating and terrifying all in the same breath! I mean, here I am a new artist, on the same stage with Jennifer Hudson, Thelma Houston, and of course Inaya Day! That was pressure- but soooo much fun! The LGBT community embraced me, and was singing my song (a song that I’m sure most of them had never heard before) long before I’d even finished the first chorus! That was such an amazing feeling. So to the LGBT fam, I want to say THANK YOU… ! Thank you for being the ones who show up, support, sing the songs and buy the music!!!! (Got me higher --Thank you!)  

DBB: You live in Atlanta, you have a little girl, you work, you tour, you record. How do you juggle all this? What are the demands like to live in both worlds: that of a dance diva on the go, showing up at clubs to perform, recording, and being a mom with a child to take care of?

M: Honey!!!  I thought I was keeping all of this stuff under wraps! Do I look like I’ve had a child!? Stop spreading rumors!!! MASQUERADE has no children! But I guess the chick behind the mask has one or two, or THREE! And she told me that it’s crazy trying to juggle being a mother who is active in her children’s lives while still trying to pursue a career in music. I think it would have a little different if she had been established as a successful artist first and then started the family. Because right now, there is a whole lot of ground work that has to be done as an up and coming artist, with little compensation. That scenario makes it imperative to wear 2 and 3 hats in order to maintain a lifestyle that will not conflict with [what] her family has come to know. She records at home -- sometimes with one kid sleeping on the couch in the studio, another on the floor doing homework, and one sitting on her lap with her hand over his mouth! Luckily, she has a great support system. All in all, I'd say it’s rather impossible- but Masquerade hails from a land of infinite possibilities!

DBB: Great answer. What career do you see for your alter ego, the glam and somewhat mysterious Masquerade? Where do you see Masquerade five years down the road?

M: I hope that Masquerade is household name in 5 years. Heck! I hope Masquerade becomes a household name by the release of her next single!!!  In five years, I see her singing because she wants to, not because she has to. Being able to live comfortably through the success of my craft, cranking out Billboard chart toppers, and coming back to hang out at cool places like Icon without the mask and no one be the wiser? That's my ultimate goal!

DBB:  If my information is correct, you were born in Grenada, grew up in Brooklyn and later moved to Atlanta. What was the time frame for all that? That is, what years did you live in each of those cities?

M: What?! Are you the CIA?! I’m supposed to be incog-negro!!! Remember?! MASQU- erade!!! (laughs) I’m not giving you specific years either! Because then you’ll figure out how old I am! I was born in Grenada, a beautiful island in the Caribbean, and came to America when I was 5. I grew up in little West Indies (Brooklyn), and didn’t leave there until I was in my twenties. Then I moved to Jersey City for about 2 years until I relocated to Atlanta, (the metro Atlanta area) in 2008. Been there ever since. I love it, but I do miss New York a lot, and can’t wait to get my fix in two weeks!

DBB: You also have a fabulous new single coming up which is, in fact, titled "Fabulous" and there's a video in the works by famed celebrity photographer and music-video director Karl Giant. What can you share with us about that?

M: FABULOUS is my baby!!! I love that song! Much like HIGHER, it’s an empowerment number, but it’s a little more fun, and playful. I actually wrote and recorded the original version of this song over 10 years ago at Inaya’s home studio in Brooklyn! When Inaya told me that we were vastly approaching the time for a follow-up, FABULOUS was the first thing that came to mind. When I told her that I was thinking of recreating it, she told me that she was thinking the same thing! As for the video, I love Karl Giant’s work, and when we finally got a chance to speak, his ideas were amazing... and costly!  But, oh so WORTH IT! I cannot wait to get the ball rolling on this! We are due to start filming when I come to NY for the gig at Icon in August.

DBB: Great timing! Masquerade, thank you so much for doing this Q&A. I look forward to seeing you perform at Icon when I will join your Ball. Any last words you'd like to leave your fans?

M: Fans?! I have fans?! Surreal. I really want to meet and personally thank you all! So if you are in the NY area on the 15th, PLEASE come see me! MUAH!

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