What do country music, RuPaul’s Drag Race, 16 strips of fake eyelashes and Milwaukee have in common? Trixie Mattel! From the moment Trixie Mattel walked into the Werk Room on season 7 of Drag Race, she exuded charisma and charm. Although Trixie was eliminated early in the competition in episode 4, she became a fan favorite and was brought back in episode 8 only to be eliminated once again in episode 10. Trixie’s rise to the top didn’t end there, she went on to star with fellow season 7 alum Katya in Viceland’s The Trixie & Katya Show, where they delve into a single topic like sex, money, spirituality, and the internet. This year, Trixie returned to Drag Race to take the crown in All Stars Season 3.
There’s more to Trixie (aka Milwaukee-born Brian Firkus) than the lashes, big bosom, cartoonish makeup, humor, and colorful 60s psychedelic Dolly Parton inspired wardrobe. There’s a plethora of musical talent that exudes out of Trixie the moment she walks on stage and performs. Not only does Trixie play the guitar but she is also skilled at the autoharp. In an interview with WUSSY, Ms. Mattel mused, “That strange pentagon shape and music box sound has always been so enticing to me, but I thought I wouldn’t be able to learn. After playing guitar for 15 years, I picked it up, and it was second nature to me. Now I am obsessed.”
Being both a gifted musician and performer, it was only a matter of time until Trixie released an album. In May of 2017, she graced us all with her debut EP Two Birds. While other Drag Race alums filled the charts with pop songs, Trixie stayed true to her country-folk roots. When asked about her dream collaborations, she mentions Aimee Mann, Jason Isbell, Kacey Musgraves and of course, Dolly Parton.
This year her second full-length country album titled One Stone rose to #1 on Billboard’s Heatseekers Album Charts. “I think on Two Birds the sentiment is very ‘why me why me’ and in One Stone it’s more introspective. It’s more like ‘Well maybe the problem is you and maybe you bring a lot of things on yourself.’ I think growing up is learning to take the good with the bad.”
Heading into write and record One Stone was similar to first album, Two Birds. “I don’t use songwriters or anything, so the process is really me crouched in my garage drinking yellow Red Bull and writing the music for my own human development. The second time felt exactly the same since the two albums, Two Birds and One Stone, were always meant to be companions.”
The tunes on the album are heartfelt and catchy. Highlights on the album include the songs “The Well” and the tearjerker “Red Side of the Moon,” which is about “two lovers that have a flower/gardener relationship and how taxing it is to be the gardener.” The colorful music video for the single “Break Your Heart” currently has over 500,000 views on YouTube.
Trixie is currently on tour to support One Stone and the live show is an experience filled with laughter, music, and of course, drag. How does Trixie calm her nerves before she performs? “I usually sit backstage and play my pink Gibson Hummingbird guitar for every second up until I walk on. It keeps my hands and my brain busy. But once the first song starts, I’m not nervous anymore. I just picture the audience naked, even the kids.”
RuPaul once said that “drag doesn’t create who you are, it reveals who you are.” No statement could be more on point when it comes to Trixie Mattel who’s not just one of the many Drag Race alums, rather she’s a shining star in her own country folk right.
Deana Morton is a freelance writer based in Colorado and has written for Dazed Digital, Huck Magazine, and Today's Parent. She is currently working on her first YA novel.