When I was sent an offer to interview Tommy Lee on his new project "Bettie," with "RuPaul's Drag Race" contest Violet Chachki, I had no idea what to expect. Everyone knows Tommy Lee, but everyone doesn't know that he's been in the electronic game for sixteen years (longer than I've been listening to it!) It's definitely not MotleyCrue,but it has the racy edge that you'd expect from Lee and hits on some of the new sexuality revolutions occurring in popular culture. Watch the video below and draw your own conclusions.
EARMILK: So what made you want to work with Violet on this project?
TL: It's kind of odd how it all happened, I've watched the RuPaul show before and that's always fun to watch, always a little bizarre but cool. I wasn't really aware of Violet at the time because I hadn't really watched any of the new season, but a buddy of mine happened to be mixing a track that I had produced for my fiance and suggested it. He said, "Tommy, I've been working with a few drag queens and they're looking for some tracks," and asked if I had anything. I said, "Actually, I probably have a few things that are right up their alley," and sent over about three or four tracks.
Violet picked the track, "Bettie," and love it and that's how it began. It's kind of strange how people meet these days and how collaborations come about. A lot of the time people haven't even met. I'll be introduced to Violet in Atlanta when she comes to check out the show but especially in electronic music it's insane the way that tracks are created. I love it, but it's wild how you can make an amazing track and not even meet in person.
EM: You can just send Dropbox files back and forth.
TL: Yeah, crazy right?
EM: So I watched the music video, were you involved with that at all? I liked how the Bettie Page themes were put into gender fluid imagery.
TL: Yeah that was all Violet. I had nothing to do with the video, just the music and producing.
EM: I could hear a lot of heavy elements to it, was that intentional or just natural?
TL: I actually sent the track thinking that the Drag Queen scene has a lot of the darker side of techno. When I was going through some of my tracks I'd been working on that were sitting aside and thought that it was definitely up that alley. I didn't write it with that intention, I'd had it kicking around for a few months but it was the one that I thought would fit best. It was definitely one of the harder, darker tracks.
EM: What made you want to get into electronic production?
TL: I got into electronic music back in 2000 and started to get into the whole DJing thing back in 2004, so I've been into it for a long time. Just being a drummer, I think that I've always been attracted to anything with beats and dance music has beats all day long. It's a natural attraction for me, so I really have been into it for awhile. Not just dance music, industrial electronic music, Nine Inch Nails, Bauhaus, sort of the more rock-based industrial stuff. I like it all really, except for the latest -I actually hate to use this term- but "EDM." There's some really bad EDM out there and I hate to put all electronic music in that category, you know what I mean?
EM: Yeah, it's like an umbrella term with some bad connotations.
TL: I know, I just like to call it dance music. I'm not sure how that happened but I think it's what happens socially when something becomes popular. It happened to metal, it happen to rock, it happened to rap and all other genres. Once it's popular, it gets a new title all of a sudden and everything is lumped into one. I'm not a fan of it but it does happen… I just don't like it (laughs).
EM: It's always more real in the beginning.
TL: Yeah, I'm a big fan of hip hop and a lot of the newer stuff sounds like full on dance music, you know what I'm saying? Especially the trap stuff, trap is like hip-hop and it all just gets regurgitated doesn't it?
EM: It does. One last silly question, are you a fan of "RuPaul's Drag Race"?
TL: I am, it's so cool. I like to see people be completely free, it's entertaining and there's some pretty wild personalities man. I love it, they just don't give a fuck.