“I describe it as Little Mix going for dinner with Steps, hosted by three drag queens,” says Divina De Campo. The star and her Frock Destroyers sisters Baga Chipz and Blu Hydrangea are in full drag on Zoom, spilling the T about their debut album, FROCK4LIFE, to their executive producer Leland. Last week, the trio earned critical acclaim with Her Majesty, their first single as a collective since the release of Break Up Bye Bye, which they memorably performed on the main stage of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK last year.
The pop anthem proved to be a crossover success, debuting in the UK charts at number 35, making herstory as the highest-charting single by a drag group in the process. While all three stars are hopeful that the accompanying album will follow in the footsteps of Break Up Bye Bye’s success, more importantly, their aim is to provide listeners with some “campery and foolishness” in these turbulent times. “It’s time to unleash this beast onto the UK and the world and let people enjoy it,” says Blu. “I just want to make people smile, for them to stick FROCK4LIFE on and have parties at home.”
Here, Leland speaks with the Frock Destroyers about the creative process behind their highly-anticipated debut album, FROCK4LIFE, why now is the perfect time for drag entertainers to dominate the charts, Supermodel-style, and their hopes for the second season of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK. Expect – in the words of Leland – some “good old fashioned dirty humour.”
Leland: Hello Frock Destroyers, how are you?
Frock Destroyers: Hello Leland!
Leland: So, I am very excited to be here with GAY TIMES today to deep-dive and ask you some questions about the making of the album.
Blu: We know you love deep diving, don’t ya?
Leland: That is certainly true.
Blu: This is really giving me Charlie’s Angels vibes, with you being Charlie.
Divina: Yes, exactly! When we all said hello, I was like, we need to be saying, ‘Hello Charlie!’
Leland: So fun. My first question for the three of you, why is now the right time for you all to “Frock Destroy”?
Divina: The world has been starved of joy and great music and campery and foolishness, all mixed in with some sexy good times. That’s what we’re bringing, that’s what we’re here for, so come on!
Blu: Totally, and Her Majesty came out a year and a week after Break Up Bye Bye, so what better timing than on our anniversary, to celebrate with a new song, which is just as much of a bop? We all have our cute little moments, it’s really good.
Baga: Well everyone would just keep on at us, ‘When are the Frock Destroyers releasing a new song? Are they gonna do an album?’ I’m like, ‘Let’s just give them what they want!’
Divina: Also, all the most successful reality show fans and contestants wait a year, and then they release their album, so we were just making sure that we were gonna be super successful!
Leland: What better way to follow-up a hit than with nothing?
Divina: [Laughs] We were working on it!
Leland: Of course. So, how would you describe the sound of the album?
Blu: Oh gosh.
Baga: We're all crazy basically. We like to produce the goods, do you know what I mean? We want quality. Some people like quantity. We waited a year because we want quality.
Baga: It’s got every genre.
Blu: Eurovision, pop, it’s like an amalgamation of all three – well, four – of our personalities, just crumpled into one little album.
Leland: Divina’s two personalities, is that what you mean?
Blu: You’re the other official Frock Destroyer!
Divina: I describe it as Little Mix going for dinner with Steps, hosted by three drag queens. That’s what I think the sound is. It’s camp, it’s sexy, it’s now and then it’s got some drag queen foolishness thrown in there as well.
Baga: There are some songs that are sugar-coated pop songs, very poppy, but there’s also some very sultry, sexy songs. Then you’ve got Her Majesty, which is more of a Drag Race camp song. Yeah, it’s proper credible music. I’m just a fan of my own album, I love it!
Leland: I was describing this project and this album to someone yesterday as three people who aren’t taking themselves too seriously but are taking the music very seriously. We are all having so much fun, but the songwriting and the music aspect, performance, production, all of those are being taken super serious – even though the music might not always be super serious in itself and have comedic lyrics here and there.
Divina: I don’t know about you two, but that’s how I’ve tried to approach doing drag, full stop. I’m not serious about myself, but I feel a real responsibility to my audience to make sure that what I’m doing on stage is. I take the work seriously, but not myself because I’m a clown, and that’s the point isn’t it?
Leland: It is. I do believe that’s the point.
Baga: We’re all crazy basically. We like to produce the goods, do you know what I mean? We want quality. Some people like quantity. We waited a year because we want quality.
Leland: I couldn’t agree more. So, after Break Up Bye Bye became the highest charting single by a drag group in the UK last year, did you feel pressure with this album?
Blu: I don’t even think I did, really. People love us individually. They love us more when we’re together and I’m really proud of what we did. I knew that as we were doing it, it was going to be fabulous. I could just see the pieces of the jigsaw fitting in place perfectly. Even if we came out with some crap old music, people would still come to the gigs and give us love! But, it’s not like that. As you said, we give them the goods.
Leland: Because Break Up Bye Bye was, for me, I’m assuming for you, a surprise hit and really crossed over easily into mainstream consumption, this project in itself is all bonus and fun. Because it didn’t exist prior to Drag Race UK season one. When I hear about different opportunities coming in or people reacting the way that they do, this is all great because we truly created this. This didn’t have to happen, so it’s all just fun.
Baga: Like you said, The Frock Destroyer experience, in general, was just a big massive cake and this album is basically the cherry on top of the cake. It didn’t have to happen, but we’d be stupid not to because it had such a huge response and everyone loved it. Because of all the support we’ve received since the show, we just owe it to them to be like, ‘Okay, we’re gonna do it. You’re going to get more content!’
Leland: Let’s talk about making the album. How was this experience? Divina, I know you’ve put out so much incredible music, and you’re a self-sufficient, self-sustaining artist in your own right. So, you’ve made albums before. How was this experience of creating an album in lockdown different for you, and then how was making your first album Blu and Baga, I know you’ve done music before as well?
Divina: For me, it was similar in ways. Usually, what happens is that I come up with the concept fully, and then I’d go and talk to the music producer or composer. There’s a sheet where I’ll have a thousand different options for lyrics, and then I’ll have an idea for a melody or a feel that I want. Whereas for this, it was the opposite way around. We sent away an idea, and then you came back with more of the meat and the bones. That allowed us to dive in and fill it out, which made it such an easy and quick process, but there was still back and forth with that. It wasn’t like, ‘This is it and it’s done, thank you.’ There was still a conversation being had. For me, it was a lovely process to be a part of.
Blu: Well, I didn’t come into Drag Race saying, ‘I can sing in five different languages while doing the splits in four and a half octaves!’ and this and that and the other.
Blu: At first, I was just happy to be there. ‘This is cute, thank you so much for the opportunity.’ But getting to the meat and bones of it, it was so fun writing our little bits because we had more time and we could be referential, make fun of ourselves. As you said, but still take it seriously. You have been such a great person to have with us. You held my hand the whole way! Any problems I had, I could literally send you a text and you’d have my back. The album wouldn’t be here at all if it wasn’t for you. I’m so thankful for you making this experience so incredible.
Leland: Thank you, I’m just glad that we’re on the other side of this process, and no one’s killed each other! And no one felt like they weren’t heard. That truly was my biggest goal. Even from your referencing “home” with “home” in Her Majesty, which was genius, all three of you are excellent songwriters. To be able to utilise your talents in this, the album wouldn’t be what it is. It wouldn’t be your love letter to the UK, referencing so many hilarious things and taking the piss out of so many fun things, this album wouldn’t be what it was if we had not collaborated as closely as we did. It was interesting for me, waking up at 3.30 in the morning to record your vocals remotely. But we made it work and you three showed up, in drag as The Frock Destroyers, and throughout each song undressed a little more! We did it and you did it. You don’t record all of the vocals for an album in a single day, and that’s what you did. If anyone can make an album in lockdown, it’s World of Wonder! Baga, what about you? What was this experience like?
Baga: It’s just mad, to be offered an album. When I went on the show, I obviously knew I could hold a tune and I can sing and all this. When I first heard Break Up Bye Bye we were like, ‘This is a really good song, everyone’s gonna love it.’ I never in a month of Sundays thought it was gonna be in the charts and all that. To do the album, as you know we were writing together, going back and forth, ‘We like this, we don’t like this,’ and we were helping each other with lyrics. When we all met on the actual recording, we were just like, ‘Yay! I get to see my sisters and see each other in person.’ Me and Blu were eating, and I was smoking most of the day, because Divina was doing her bits. I was like, ‘Oh my god, I’m half an hour late!’ but it was alright because Divina had just gone in. It’s been an absolute joy. You’ve been amazing, World of Wonder has been amazing. Just to be given the opportunity, you know what I mean? It’s one of the greatest things I’ve ever done, really, because The Frock Destroyers is such a big part of my career. It’s the highlight for me, for our season. We all won the challenge, and I look decent as well on the runway. We was picked last, our team, and people saw us as the underdogs.
Blu: I bet Crystal regrets that now, that bitch.
Leland: Since I wasn’t over there… There have been moments where I’ve had songs do well in other countries, but I’m not there so I don’t get to experience the song doing well. You were, and correct me if I’m wrong, in the UK when Break Up Bye Bye came out and did what it did. What was that first experience like, of going out and even performing the song for the first time?
Baga: People just sing it to us, everywhere we go. If we do solo shows, I don’t know about the other two, people shout if we’re going to do Break Up Bye Bye. It’s one of those things, if we don’t perform it, even at our solo shows, people feel like they’re being robbed.
Blu: Do you know what the funny thing is? We do these two-hour long shows as The Frock Destroyers, and we’d only have a two minute song to do at the end of it! But now, we have a whole album. It was a weird experience, wasn’t it? Going out and doing it for the first time? It was the first time that the three of us had worked together since the show.
Divina: I can’t remember where it was. Where were we the first time?
Blu: Newcastle, pet. It was on this really high stage and we were trying to remember the choreography that we hadn’t done in nine months! It was crazy. To this day, the kids send us videos of them doing the dance.
Baga: To see strangers on the front row of a gig, singing your lyrics and doing your dance moves, and everybody in the room is literally like, ‘Baga Chipz is stunning! Baga Chipz is…’ It’s crazy.
Leland: I’m calling it now, I fully believe The Frock Destroyers will be playing one of the stages at Glastonbury, whether it’s 2021 or 2022. I think that’s how I’ve navigated my career as a songwriter, just having these larger than life dreams that feel out of reach, but somehow takes a year or seven years to come to fruition. As long as you keep putting out music consistently, the opportunities are going to be endless.
Baga: I want a back catalogue, do you know what I mean? When I’m older I want about ten albums! I want to be like, ‘Oh, which album?’ We want a back catalogue – if you’ll have us!
Divina: Exactly. If you want it, then we’ll do it!
Baga: Don’t leave us, we want more.
Leland: Why was Her Majesty the right song to use as lead single? I know we had this chat, so what was it about that song that led you to release that as the next one after Break Up Bye Bye?
Divina: To me, it’s got that quintessential Britishness about it. It’s also got those very self-referential moments in there, where we’re clearly not taking ourselves seriously. After the year that we’ve had, I think that’s what everyone needs. A, something that you can dance to. B, something that’s going to be a bit of fun as well, rather than more morbid miserable-ness.
Blu: It’s like a little reintroduction to each of us as well, Break Up Bye Bye on steroids. Do you know what’s funny? We all walked in the werkroom, Baga, Blu and Divina. The verses on Break Up Bye Bye are Baga, Blu and Divina, and the same with Her Majesty! I don’t think we planned that.
Baga: Basically, what Blu’s trying to say is that I’m a brilliant opener.
Divina: Then Blu’s the middle bit, meh. Then you get the highlight at the end!
Blu: I don’t think.
Divina: I’m the bit, actually, where they go for a fag. ‘Alright, we’ve seen the good bit, let’s go for a fag and come back at the end.’
Leland: Did you see the video of Ariana Grande and Mariah Carey harmonising in whistle tone?
Divina: Not yet!
Leland: Divina, you need to add the third whistle tone harmony to that video.
Divina: Okay, I’m ready.
Leland: When I think of whistle tone, I think of Mariah Carey, Ariana Grande and Divina De Campo – the trifecta! So, the aesthetic of this album feels very punk/metal with the outfits and the font, and even the sonics of Her Majesty – was all of that intentional?
Baga: I’d say it was, because our look on the runway, we’re all in fishnets, black leather, thigh-high boots. It is very rocky, PVC. We’re rockers! We’re frock ‘n’ roll, that’s what we are. We have the pop factor, but we want to do everything. You never know, the next album we could be doing full on rap!
Divina: It’s more like good, classic soft-rock like Marillion, Whitesnake, those kind of people.
Baga: Even Gaga kind of rock.
Divina: Exactly, so it’s still like commercial for pop audiences, but we’re not Megadeth. It’s not that.
Leland: I think, and I want, people to not view The Frock Destroyers as pop stars, but as rock stars. I feel like rock stars are more encompassing of genre and can navigate whether they want to go more poppy or rocky, and navigate the universe as a rock star. And I think Lady Gaga is a rock star. I even think, in some ways, Beyoncé is a rock star and not just a pop star. Rock stars have this deity about them. The album is a great example of how you can navigate genre, and maybe even with the next album you commit to a specific genre; do a disco album, a Little Mix-esque Britpop album. There’s so many things that you can do. You’re not constrained to genre, which is really exciting.
Baga: Rock is not just music. Rock is an attitude. Like you said with Beyoncé. That’s why I love people like Tina Turner, who is the ultimate rock star. It’s an attitude. It’s when you get on that stage. It’s confidence, know what I mean? You don’t have to be doing “rarara” to be a rock star. Madonna is a rock star. I think we all convey that attitude through the screen, well, I know I do!
Leland: This next question is one that I was actually asked yesterday, but I felt, not uncomfortable, but I sort of shied away from answering it because I am not a drag queen making music. So, the question was: do you think drag music is taken seriously in the music industry?
Divina: I think that depends where you are. I mean, you’ve got Pabllo Vittar in Brazil, who is enormous, absolutely huge. And rightfully so, an incredible talent. Same with Conchita Wurst. It depends where you are. That also depends on the culture that has grown up around it and then, what it is you’re producing. The only kind of person who was making music here was Dame Edna and Lily Savage, but all of theirs was a pisstake. But, they were operating at a time where there was lots more comedy music in the charts.
Baga: I think we’re going backwards, if anything. It’s true, we haven’t had any proper, credible drag music. Well, I know there’s a lot of Drag Race queens releasing music, but I mean, in the charts and all that. In the 80s, and I don’t know if they were drag but they were very androgynous, you had people like Sylvester, Divine, Boy George, Pete Burns, most of which were necessarily drag queens. Divine was, but they were still make-up and wigs.
Leland: You’re right, that’s such a good answer. It almost feels like, in the 80s and 90s, the public gravitated towards that, so more was presented. I think the desire is there, within popular culture, obviously, look how big Drag Race has become. What my answer was, is that it’s hard enough not as a drag queen. It’s hard enough making music and it’s expensive making music, so if I were to put myself in the shoes of a drag queen, where it’s expensive to drag alone, and then you’re working on these other streams of income, music is not cheap to create. Quality music is even more expensive to create. I said we should be celebrating and supporting any queen that can manage to do drag and put out music. Those are two massive undertakings on their own, and my hope is that every once in a while, or a lot, a record label will get behind these queens who are making music that can be consumed on a more mainstream level. Even artists who aren’t drag queens will make music for a small sector of people. I know for you three, you want music to connect with, not just fans of Drag Race, but people beyond that. You want moms, kids, teens, straight kids, queer kids to gravitate to this group. I think, like Divina said, it depends who you’re making music for. If you’re a drag queen that’s making music for a very niche group of people, then that mainstream radio success may not happen. But if you are making music that a lot of people can listen to, like Adele makes music for 100% of the population…
Divina: We just all need to have really traumatic breakups, girls.
Baga: Even with RuPaul when she released Supermodel, that was a massive hit, and it was very credible. Like Divina said, it wasn’t a Dame Edna or Lily Savage song. I think RuPaul brought the whole “slay!” music, fabulous drag queen music. When I first saw Supermodel, I literally thought it was Naomi Campbell.
Leland: It’s because Ru did not take himself serious, but took his music and art serious. It’s interesting how it’s been quite a long time since, in the US, because Supermodel was a big hit. I think people are ready for it, I really do. What kind of impact do you want FROCK4LIFE to have on fans during this time?
Blu: Well, it’s 2020, so it’s been a horrible year. And we’ve had the joy of FROCK4LIFE, we’ve had the joy of being able to create it and spend time on it. It’s time to unleash this beast onto the UK and the world and let people enjoy it, smile and listen to the camp references and little touches of personality in there. I just want to make people smile, for them to stick FROCK4LIFE on and have parties at home.
Baga: I just want one person to say, ‘That’s my favourite song.’ Already with Her Majesty, I’ve had nothing but non-stop Instagram posts of people singing it. We just want to bring joy and good music. When this lockdown is over, I want to walk into a club and hear us, Big Ben and Her Majesty. Once, I walked into a bar and Break Up Bye Bye and at first, I was like, ‘Oh no…’ and people look at you like, ‘Are you gonna do it?’ If I’ve had a few drinks, I’ll be like, ‘Baga Chipz is stunning…’
Blu: I think we could hit Christmas number one, that’s what I want. Christmas number one album, anyway! Next year, we’ll be in everyone’s Spotify Wrapped, right?
Baga: Next album, I’d love disco, like what Kylie’s done. That’d be amazing.
Leland: How good is that album?
Divina: So good.
Leland: We’ll get Kylie to feature on it.
Baga: She can support us.
Blu: I don’t know if Kylie could cope being around three, dainty women like us.
Leland: I have a feeling Kylie has been around gays her entire life.
Divina: I don’t get that feeling from her at all.
Blu: She’s a lumberjack in her days off.
Leland: Since it has been a whole year since Break Up Bye Bye, what do you want to see on this next season of Drag Race UK?
Divina: Nothing as successful.
Baga: [Laughs] We don’t want them to fail, we want people to thrive, more diversity and visibility, we just don’t want them to do “MUCH BETTA!” than me. I want all the work and all the money because I am a greedy bitch.
Blu: What made our season so successful was the heart and camaraderie, and we were there to prove that British drag is just as good as US drag, and we weren’t out to get each other – except for the red wig and silver dress debacle. I hope that they continue that, and there’s no feistiness. Now that they know Drag Race UK is a success, I hope that there’s no clawing your way to the top. I just want them to be friends, and to see that British, humble humour.
Baga: I have never been called an OG in my life, but we are the OG’s! We were the first ever ones.
Blu: I think we could hit Christmas number one, that's what I want. Christmas number one album, anyway! Next year, we'll be in everyone's Spotify Wrapped, right?
Leland: You’re royalty!
Baga: Someone called me a Drag Race legend the other day and I was like, ‘What the fuck?’
Leland: When I heard that Drag Race UK was happening, I was so excited and the main reason why was because I was looking forward to the humour. I was looking forward to, creatively, working with queens who I knew were going to have this comedy backbone and were going to be quick and irreverent. Truly, I think The Frock Destroyers are the epitome of that. I feel like you three, and the cast of season one, fully delivered. I’m looking forward to more, good old fashioned dirty humour.
Blu: Sounds good to me.
Leland: My last question for my interview with GAY TIMES, besides FROCK4LIFE, what is next for all three of you?
Divina: I’ve got loads of theatre projects in the mix, which I’m really excited about. Some of them are dream come true stuff. I’m already planning more solo music because I don’t want to stop. There’s a couple of TV bits and pieces bubbling along also, and then it’s more frocks. C’mon frocks! Let’s frocking destroying the world.
Baga: I’ve got so much TV stuff coming out. I’ve filmed loads already, proper primetime TV. I’ve been so lucky, and there’s so many brands advertising for cocktails and all that. I’ve got my own gin coming out. I’ve got my own autobiography with Penguin Books. A little bit of solo music, but yeah, loads of gigs, adverts and reality TV.
Blu: Baga, don’t Penguin Books just do kids books?
Baga: No, it’s a publication. I don’t think they’d let me do children’s books. Could you imagine me doing a children’s book? ‘This is how you light your cigarette, this is how you drink your gin…’ Yeah, it’s crazy. Most famous woman in Britain at the moment, what can I say?
Leland: Blu, what about you?
Blu: I’ve been working really closely with BBC Three on my Strictly Come Dancing show. They’ve also asked me to host a pilot of a TV show in January, which I’m very excited about. So hopefully, I get to go into that realm. It’s uncharted territory for me, but I’m very excited. Yeah, tour for The Frock Destroyers – worldwide, hopefully! I think 2020 was a great year for Drag Race UK, but 2021 is the year of The Frock Destroyers.
Leland: I couldn’t agree more. It’s exciting that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel with the vaccine, so that you can tour this album. This has been so nice, thank you GAY TIMES for letting us do this.
The Frock Destroyers: We love you GAY TIMES!
Frock Destroyers’ debut album FROCK4LIFE is released on 11 December via World of Wonder Records. Pre-order the album here.