“If I can show you my flaccid penis, that’s sex,” says Priyanka. As you can tell from this lovely quote, this isn’t a standard interview. Did it pull you in? Did it do the job? Thought so! The reigning champion of Canada’s Drag Race (and Elle cover star!) has just released her debut EP, Taste Test, a five-track collection of dance-pop earworms centred around a breakup from an absolute, well, fuckboy.
The tracklist includes: lead single Cake, where she beckons a love interest to “bow down for the queen” and taste her [insert filth here]; Bitch I’m Busy, a pulsating club anthem in which she fobs off aforementioned lover because of her workload; Come Through, the anti-The Boy is Mine with infectious vocals from CDR season one bestie Lemon; Afterglow, a sensual R&B throwback track; and Snatch, the resident “drag queen song” assisted by UK alum Cheryl Hole.
It’s a triumph of a debut, so we linked up with Priyanka over Zoom to chat about the the EP, the fuckboys who inspired it and how she plans to break through the mainstream music industry with her BLACKPINK and Little Mix-adjacent sound.
What’s going on Priyanka? Tell me all.
Yesterday was my four-year drag anniversary, which is kinda fucked up that I’ve only been doing this for four years. You know what I mean? The first two years was my Destiny’s Child era and the third year was my Dangerously In Love era. I think now…
You’re in your BDay era.
That means Come Through is your Beautiful Liar moment.
Yeah, I would say that. So, it’s wild. I opened last night’s show with Cake and it was my first time performing it, and it was wild. We got this live band arrangement so it sounded so cool, it felt like I was performing in an arena. Honestly, it felt like it because there was this giant ass patio with the stage. It was cool.
How did the new songs go down with the audience?
I closed the show with Bitch I’m Busy. The crazy thing with Bitch I’m Busy is that no one knew it was gonna happen. There was no lead up or expectation that I was gonna perform it or not, because no one had heard it. I gave them the full fantasy like, ‘Ya’ll wanna hear something off my new album?’ Everyone was like, ‘Yeah! Woo!’ The song started and everyone just started like, ‘Wait, it’s a good song?’ Cake was that true crossover of… Me as a drag queen doing this little pop song and I have my tagline in there and it’s similar to… [phone starts ringing].
Please tell me this is another special guest appearance from Dr Reverend Silky Nutmeg Ganache?
Right? She never called me back. She was like ‘I have some tea for you’ and didn’t call me back. Whatever. But, Bitch I’m Busy and the rest of the songs are true bops. It’s me as an artist not me as ‘Canada’s Drag Race winner’. That’s kind of fun.
Cake is infectious as hell, but Bitch I’m Busy… Priyanka, it’s an absolute smash. Remember the first time you heard major bops like Ariana Grande’s Into You and Dua Lipa’s Physical? The gag?
It’s literally that vibe, YES. When I first wanted to do music… Well, I’ve always wanted to do music but when I had to record my verse for Queen of the North with Brooke Lynn Hytes, Stacey Kay and Leah Allyce Canali they were like, ‘Do you want to do music? If so, let me know!’ which was perfect. I said to them, ‘I wanna do music but I wanna do BLACKPINK, girl-group pop songs. I don’t wanna do drag queen music. Don’t want it. There’s a specific tone to drag queen music and I want do to pop songs. I’m capable.’ So, I remember hearing Cake for the first time and I was like, ‘This is a great first single, I just know it. It’s big, it’s loud and it sounds like a big production.’ When I heard Bitch I’m Busy… I was like, shocked. I was shocked. I was shocked. I’m still shocked. It’s just a good song. After this guy dumped me in October, I wrote Bitch I’m Busy about filler boys in-between. You know, like a rebound?
I’m absolutely with you, tell me more…
I remember there was this one guy – well, there were two guys actually.
Both filler. They were so in love and I was like, ‘How?’ Like, I get it. I’m sexy. I’m like, ‘Why are you not understanding the vibe I’m giving off here? It’s very clear that we’re chilling.’ But then sometimes I think, ‘Maybe I do like you? Maybe this is… nice?’ But I’m also like, ‘No. I’m a busy bitch. I have to focus. Eye on the prize!’ The other boy was a little distracting because he gave me copious amounts of anxiety. Bitch I’m Busy was about that. It’s not that you can’t do both: be in love and have a very successful career, but there’s some people that you meet in your life that are quite toxic where you just have to be like, ‘I’m a busy bitch.’ Know what I mean?
That brings us onto Come Through, which is a bit more cut-throat than Bitch I’m Busy. I live for it. Lemon’s verse slaps!
Oh my god, Lemon is so talented. The intention was to always have her on it. When I listened to the demo, it was this weird ‘reading is fundamental’ kind of song and I was like, ‘I hate this. I’m gonna take this and rewrite it.’ We rewrote it as Come Through and we put Lemon on it because the same guy who dumped me tried to date her before me… and I didn’t know. Could you imagine showing your friend somebody you’re so excited about for them to be like, ‘Oh yeah, we FaceTime’d last week…’ Not only that, this is your Drag Race sister. Not only that, but the show was currently on air because we were feeling our oats. I remember being so brainwashed. I was like, ‘Well no, it’s different for us… Maybe what you had is not what we had.’ Very that energy. Having a connection with somebody is so rare, so I thought that this guy was… the one. When you’re at the height of success in your life, I won’t say the feeling is “lonely” but the other areas in your life tend to have more spotlight on them, if that makes sense? You go to bed like, ‘Wow, I’m performing, I’m on Canada’s Drag Race, my life is perfect, but… I’m single.’ You always find a negative thing because people are never happy. All the signs were there, people were telling me to be careful. Okay, so this is real tea. I’m spilling so much tea, this poor boy… I feel so bad for him.
Rip him to shreds Priyanka, I’m ready. Give me the tea! I want the drama! The conflama! All of it!
So, this is real drama. He came to my finale viewing party, when I won, and I’ll never forget him being so shit-faced plastered, it was embarrassing. It was, like, bad. During my verse for U Wear It Well he wasn’t even paying attention. He came up and gave me a shot like, ‘Mdfhhdsfdkfsdf.’ You never forget those moments when things happen and the relationship ends and you remember the times. You’re like, oh. As gay people, we suppress a lot of things. And during that relationship, I was suppressing all of the negative things because I was trying to prove to my friends – and to myself – that the relationship was good. So when Come Through lands on the table I’m like, ‘Imma call a bitch out.’ Because he made me feel like I was the issue! I have a few issues here and there… But you don’t get to treat people like that, you know? So, Come Through came along and it’s a nasty track. It’s dirty! That fucking, whatever that instrument is, the synth? [Makes synth sounds]
Come Through feels like the anti The Boy is Mine.
Pfft. We’re like, ‘No, no, no.’ It’s like, I’ll still go and suck a good dick… but I don’t need it. We’re not going to fight over this boy. The thing with my friendship with Lemon is, and a lot of people have this kind of friendship, is that it’s unconditional friendship. Sometimes in life, you take your friendships for granted and the friendships you have with people is the shit you can’t buy. Do you have a best friend? Or am I your best friend?
You’re my best friend.
Good. This… is rare. I know it’s an anti The Boy is Mine but we stress over love and it makes amazing pop songs. If you’re gonna do it, do a song about how the boy broke your heart and call him out because sometimes the anger helps you get over it.
What is his name?
Of course it is. The story behind [Redacted 1] also ties into the album cover, right? Tell me about that.
We met at the bar where we shot the album cover. I shot the album cover at Crews & Tangos, a bar in Toronto. I wanted to shoot it in the bathroom because so many people have done drugs and had sex in this bathroom, but they’ve also cried over boys in this bathroom. When you think about a bathroom, that’s where people go to gossip and giggle, do touch up’s to make sure you look good on your date. I remember performing on stage in that same bar when I first started drag and dating these boys. You’d be on Tinder or Grindr and have this connection with them and say, ‘I’m a drag queen, wanna come see my show?’ They’d come, I’d be on stage doing my hardest to impress them and then you look out and they’re making out with somebody else. The most gut-wrenching feeling ever, it’s happened to me like three times.
It’s awful! That feeling of seeing that is awful. There was this one time where I met this boy at a swimming pool. I spent all day looking for him on Tinder, Grindr, Craig’s List, whatever I could do. I was trying to find this boy because I’m a sucker for love. I really am, as you know. I went to this party and he was there. I was like, ‘This is fate!’ Then, I went up to him and he said, ‘You look so familiar, me and boyfriend were saying you look familiar.’ I see him the next day, they broke up. We hooked up all weekend, that regular shit you do, and I went out… Wednesday was pool, Thursday was the break-up, Friday sex, Saturday sex, Sunday sex – we were just chilling and talking and connecting and drinking, everything was so lovely. ‘How did I meet someone like you? Never seen someone like you before…’ All of it. We go out to the club on Monday. I went to grab drinks and saw him making out with somebody else.
For fuck sake. How on earth did you respond to that?
You know when That’s So Raven has a vision? It’s that face. I was like, ‘What the flying fuck?’ I was shattered. That was the domino that started bad boy after bad boy after bad boy…
And what was this boy’s name?
See, I’ve never met a good [Redacted 1] or [Redacted 2].
Yah. I just never. I will never. It was so fucked up. I think the weirdest thing is, I haven’t heard from him since we broke up.
Was Lemon at the premiere party?
Lemon was there. Apparently they were talking, but I don’t know what they were talking about. Lemon hates him. So Lemon was like, ‘Yeah girl, I was talking to him but I don’t care because he’s an idiot.’ She hates him with a passion. That’s what Come Through is about. We all think we have to be nice and think about people’s feelings, but sometimes you just have to be an asshole and say, ‘Fuck off.’ He knows this music is coming, but I think he likes the attention. That’s the other thing too, he just likes the attention which is even more fucked.
How did you meet him? Was he a Priyanka fanboy?
I don’t know… He tried to play this whole game like, ‘Yeah when I saw you on the patio I was like, who is this cute boy?’ and I was like, ‘You watch Canada’s Drag Race, you knew exactly who I was…’ Men are nasty. I didn’t come out until my mid-20s, so all my young love and Driver’s License by Olivia whatever her name is, that’s happening now. That’s my era.
That’s what they say, right? We’re a decade behind the straights because we couldn’t live truthfully in our teens.
Exactly! I had a girlfriend when I was 18.
Do you still talk with her?
No, I wanna know how she’s doing. I think someone told me she’s proud of me, which I really liked. At the finale party, these girls from high school came like, ‘You remember Jen, right?’ I was like, ‘That’s my ex-girlfriend.’ They said, ‘She wanted to send her love and say she’s proud of you.’ That must be really crazy for girls with their exes, ‘I dated this guy in high school and…’ I’m that guy! ‘Now he’s on the cover of ELLE and he’s the winner of Canada’s Drag Race and…’ I love that they’re supportive, it’s iconic.
That’s so sweet. We love Jen.
Love Jen. She’s married now. I should write a song about her, she deserves it.
I wanna talk to you now about Afterglow. It’s a moodier song than the rest and it’s quite… sexy? There’s also a bit of a throwback R&B sound there?
It gave me very R&B vibes, like Boys II Men-ish? There’s something about it, even like a Destiny’s Child album deep cut. But the beat itself? That nasty, raunchy, sexy base beat is very now-times mixed with some nostalgia. That song is not about [Redacted 1]. This song was written from scratch scratch. I sat down with Stacey and Leah and it’s focusing on this connection of love where you’re like… You don’t meet people, but when you meet somebody that you can take your clothes off in front of, that’s when you know you have a good person. I don’t know about you but I hate my body, I hate taking my clothes off in front of men. It makes me feel like shit. It’s like you’ve unlocked a level. So, that kinda makes me feel excited because you do meet somebody sometimes in your life where you can have this trust. We talk about betrayal, we talk about hate, we talk about this shit but when you can finally have sex, intercourse, penetration, in and out with the lights on… What the fuck?
Even just showing someone your naked body, I’m like… That’s sex.
If I can show you my flaccid penis, that’s sex. Cheers to that. Afterglow is just that. It’s such a meaningful song. It means so much to me because, in the same sense that Cake, Bitch I’m Busy and Come Through are relationship songs with the ultimate ‘fuck off I hate you,’ Afterglow is that feeling of love you get when you meet somebody. The reason why I put the violins in there is because, first of all, having live violins… It’s so beautiful to listen to live violins. I need to send you the isolated violin track, it’s absolutely haunting. In Bollywood musicals, violins are the instrument of love. In every Bollywood song if you hear the violin it’s like, ‘Oh, they’re in love.’ It was a mash-up of all those influences and just talking about how you can find somebody who will cure your body dysphoria that you have and make you feel very comfortable to have sex and fall in love with them, and be unapologetically in your skin. It sucks, being a human is so iconic but it also fucks sometimes. The shit that we deal with mentally? Afterglow is just that, when you’re feeling… frisky.
Was there someone in particular who made you feel like that?
There’s this boy named [Redacted 3]. We love [Redacted 3]. I met him and it was weird because it wasn’t… toxic.
Know what I mean? The other weird thing is, I wasn’t even trying to make it toxic and that’s when you know it’s good. You know sometimes when you meet somebody and think, ‘Oh this is really nice, I’m gonna start a fight!’ It’s like all of that is out the window, it’s just good. Impossible! As I said before, I want people to know that they don’t have to ditch their successful careers to have a successful relationship. It’s about balance. It’s about having your Afterglow’s. It’s about turning up during the day and being a busy bitch, then turning off, and Afterglow. Then, having the afterparty, going to the club to snatch that body with Cheryl Hole.
Let’s talk about Snatch. I can’t deal with it. I cannot!
Snatch is so chaotic! It’s so fun.
If I had to pick one song on the album to be the ‘drag queen song’ then this would probably be it.
I totally agree. It is the drag queen song. It’s funny because it’s my escape song. It’s saying to my friends and fans, ‘If you feel like shit, complain about it. If you wanna talk shit, just talk shit about that person. Get it out of your system! Be a bitch, scratch your itch.’ All that shit. Drag and this entertainment and how it’s taken over this motherfucking world, that’s what Snatch is about. It’s that escape I feel when I watch drag and the escape that I give people when they watch drag. Last night at my show, with the 300 people that we there, we were all lifted. We were all together in one and Snatch is just about that.
Have you met Cheryl yet?
Not in person! We only FaceTime. I FaceTime her when I paint sometimes and just chat.
Cheryl is one of my favourite people.
She’s a workhorse like me. I guess, when you look at the bigger picture, me and Cheryl Hole is kind of a weird match, but it also makes sense because I’m so inspired by her and how she works so hard. No matter what, she’s always in an Uber and always driving to a gig, making sure she’s out there because what she’s not gonna do is sit at home and complain about not getting work. She’s gonna go get her work and I love that. Also, Bimini Bon Boulash was supposed to record a verse on it.
Oh. What happened there?
She’s too busy. But, she text. Lemme read you the text. She’s so nice. This is some fun tea. I like spilling tea. So, she’s left me on read since May 21 but that’s fine. It’s okay, she’s busy. She’s on the cover of magazines too. She was in and she really wanted to do it, she even sent me voice notes of her giving me the verses and stuff. She was like, ‘I’m non-stop, I wanna make it work, I’m so sorry.’ I’m like, ‘Don’t worry, we’re gonna drop a remix and I wanna see how many drag queens I can get to do their own Snatch verses.’ I want Tayce, Bimini, Shea Coulee… Remember when Busta Rhymes did Touch It or Monster by Kanye? It’s just verse after verse after verse. That’s what I wanna do for the ‘special edition’ release.
What about Darienne Lake? The greatest rapper of our time?
Exactly. That’s the obvious choice.
We need the 2021 version of “Big girl walking down the dirty street.” Make it happen!
Exactly. It’s just a celebration and it’s a party. Isn’t that fun? Whenever drag queens and drag entertainers release a song, there’s a little bit of an eye roll because typically, drag queens don’t chart. But, Trixie Mattel charted and she tours her music. Bimini just performed her single live and I just did my two songs yesterday. We can open for Ariana Grande’s and we can also headline these big Coachella’s and Lollapalooza’s. We’re breaking into the mainstream and my EP is gonna do that.
Taste Test is now available on iTunes and streaming services. Listen here on Apple Music or below.