Editorials Series

Pride 2018 Playlists: Drag Queen Bella Muerte’s Stargazing Through Smoke

We’re thrilled to collaborate with drag queen Bella Muerte, a performer who splits their time between Minneapolis and Glasgow. Their drag is subversive and complex, calling upon artists of numerous mediums. In our first entry of our special Pride 2018 series, Bella Muerte breaks down their inspiration and the music that influenced their “Starry Night” look.

My drag takes inspiration from many diverse sources, unconcerned with looking human, wishing more to embody the spirits that live in the natural world around us. With this look, I wanted to model myself after Van Gogh’s The Starry Night, one of my all-time favourite pieces and artists. I have always thought that the painting looked like it held a being within it, ancient and powerful, slumbering. Her rest is shallow and fitful, disturbed by the encroaching of man and the drowning of the stars by his artificial light.

Drag as an art form is built upon the mixing of various forms of media into a unique whole. Lipsyncing is famously one of the most popular aspects, but music itself can inspire paint and characters. In this playlist, I have collected tracks that form the soundtrack to my stage presence or getting ready.

Belbury Poly is one of my favourite artists, as his music always plays at memories half-formed from being a child awake past bedtime, seeing but never quite taking in what’s on the television. Hypnotising cartoons by the glow of a candle.

“Í Tokuni” translates as “In the mist” in Eivør’s mother tongue of Faroese. She calls out to a friend, pleading to know if she is alone in the deathlike mist. A gorgeous, desperate song that speaks to the feeling of losing everything, especially the self.

Tanya Tagaq is an Inuit throat singer with music that is driving but rarely with melodic structures. She brings a traditional indigenous form of art into the contemporary, and, to me, captures the incredible beauty to be found in our heritage when we are allowed to embrace it, celebrate it. Her style is dark, longing, and envelops you in its rhythm.

Diamanda Galás’ voice is, in a word, chilling. Her vocal acrobatics touch at something deep within you, driving you to terror and forcing your mind to wander paths often left barren. An outspoken AIDS advocate, her work focuses on loss and injustice. This song to me is cigarette smoke and red wine, a car flying off a cliff face into the crashing sea as the moon looks down, unmoved.

William Basinski is a queer composer whose repertoire is nostalgic, melancholic, reflective. The perfect music in which to lose yourself, to focus on everything yet nothing.

“Varúð” = “Warning”. We look into the cold, the only light our fire. We are alone, the world we knew dead around us. Loss, lost, loss.

ANOHNI’s “Hopelessness” speaks to the realisation that humanity has become nothing more than a virus to the natural world around us. The anger and bargaining before the depression.

Follow Bella Muerte on Instagram, and look out for the second installment of our Pride 2018 Playlists series next week.

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