Double Duchess is Killing It

Milk Bath Photos by Jose A Guzman Colon

San Francisco’s Double Duchess transcends genres and genders through its live experience and high-energy delivery. Krylon Superstar’s mesmerizing voice and performance art genius, coupled with davO’s emceeing and production deftness, delivers a raw and campy electronic sound. Double Duchess’ musical influences include Baltimore club, booty breaks, and ballroom house, all wrapped in a world of couture fashion.

The electro-hop duo, made up of Krylon Superstar and davO, are creating a buzz with their video for their song “Good Girl Freak Out,” a throbbing, slick dance number that features Kelly Osbourne (as a reimagined Jem!), strappy leather outfits, vogueing realness and hipster L.A. band Future People. Oh, and did we mention that it was directed by J.B. Ghuman Jr., the gay filmmaker behind Spork?

Krylon and davO started making music in 2010, “inspired by their love for boys, being sassy, and the queer community in their new city of San Francisco.” The first big break came from their gritty, street-savvy video for “Bucket Betch,” featured in their 2012 EP Hey Girl. As members of the LGBTQ community, the San Francisco-based pair fuse their histories— Krylon as a New York club kid and performance artist, davO as a member of hip-hop/funk/punk Jepetto (“We were part of the Warped Tour a lot just out of high school.”)—to create fun dance music everyone can party to.

Now working on a full-length that’s scheduled to come out in March 2015, Double Duchess like to say their music transcends gender and genres—and that’s true—but the duo have another agenda: to bring their music to the mainstream while being true to themselves.

You guys rocked it in Austin at South by Southwest a few years back, how was that? <DavO> It was the first time we’d been to Austin; it was a good time and I feel like a lot of people saw us and really responded to us. It had impact for sure. But we mostly run around doing little shows in small venues and parking lots <laughs>

Krylon, you’re like an old skool raver from way back, am I right? <Krylon> I was a club kid for sure. I worked at the Limelight in 2000. I was there with all those kids.

I actually worked with Superstar Dj Keoki a few times. I think he was all up in that scene. <Krylon> Gorgeous! I love him!

He’s actually cleaned up a lot, if you know what I mean. <Krylon> <laughs> Girl, we all have. <laughs> It’s a beautiful thing. I wouldn’t trade or change any of it. It was a really good time and I was really young, but I learned so much from that experience.

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I am loving the videos you guys are putting out. Do you guys collaborate well or do you defer to each other depending on your different strengths? <Krylon> We actually meet somewhere in the middle most of the time. DavO has a beautiful way of putting together music. And I can sort of get into that groove and just build on what he’s doing with my arty performance stuff.

<DavO> The majority of the time, we’re both right on point. But like every artist, we have moments where we look at each other and say ‘what are we going to do here?’ I think we’ve learned to play to our strengths. We are a really good circle.

DavO you started as a drummer. Your beats are fresh and complex and interesting. I love the way you put shit together. Do you feel like the foundation for every good track is the beat? <DavO> I do. Particularly with what we’re doing. Dance music and hiphop is very beat oriented. I am absolutely more beat-minded than I am with melodies.

Do you play other instruments? <DavO> Drums and keys – but no stringed instruments.

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You traveled as a musician before? I was on the Warp Tour in 1999 and 2000 with a band out of high school that was making a lot of noise. It was a live band but I was doing more this rap/rock thing that was hot at that time. I eventually moved more into production and Dj’ing – that whole culture shifted for me. I met Krylon in 2010 and we’ve been doing some really fun things together ever since.

I feel like Krylon is giving me Sylvester. I’m getting some vintage hotness. <Krylon> That is some high praise, honey! Thank you. I love me some Sylvester.

Do you feel like queer music is better received in 2014? It’s rare that an out and queer band is embraced by the straight scene. I mean, there was Boy George and Culture Club – but Boy George wasn’t technically out. Isn’t that crazy? There was a time that people didn’t know Boy George was gay? <Krylon> That is crazy! But we get support from the straight community all day long. Today I feel like there is less of a need to make any sort of announcement about your sexuality. It’s irrelevant – thanks in part to people like Boy George, who paved that path for other queer artists.

<DavO> The queens all know who is queer and we get it, but I think people just care a little less these days about that kind of thing. Double Duchess is a bit more in your face about it but some bands lay low with that kind of thing. It’s a creative choice I suspect – and a choice that the audience seems to respect.

You guys kind of have some David Bowie coolness about you. <Krylon> I hear what you’re saying. There were these lines that existed that gave people an opportunity to like an artist and still believe that they weren’t gay – I think those lines are all sort of blurry now and irrelevant. I also think that queer artists are tearing down those walls by saying ‘we are going to be authentic and we’re going to make what music we make and be who we are.’ I love that because it means the music is the focus – and not the sexuality of the artist.

I love the way you guys blend the music and the art. Lady Gaga has made a career out of it – but do you feel the music inspires the art – or is it the other way around? <DavO> I think it’s both. I think it’s different. I personally think musically first – but then I think visually from that point of view. I am more inspired by creating the song. But I think Krylon sometimes gives that old money/high fashion sort of vogue ball theme that flows from that. And then I have an interpretation of what I think that might be with audio.

<Krylon> I am definitely more visual I think, I am a performance artist so I think visually.

When does your album drop? <DavO> Well, we’ve been working on material for a long time – so we’re shooting for late spring. It takes some time to do all the finalizing and mastering. We need the time to do that. 80% of the record is finished. But the great thing is that it will have some of our favorite tracks and our best work.

I also have to ask, how is Kelly Osbourne to work with. I think she’s so fucking cool. <Krylon> She’s so awesome. I absolutely love her. We had the chance to really talk with her intimately. She’s hilarious and seriously one of the funniest people you can meet. Turns out that she was at Squeezebox underage in New York and I was gogo dancing. She doesn’t take herself super seriously and I love that.

Back in the day, an artist would tour to promote the album; now you drop a record to get people to your live shows. However, you need to have a live show that represents the record. Do you guys think about how all your stuff will translate live? <Krylon> To some degree. I know when I am in the studio and I am listening to the play back on some of our stuff, I immediately think ‘Hmm, how will we do this on stage?’ and ‘How is the crowd going to react to this?’ I literally, physically try to put myself in the crowd and I think ‘yeah, I can pump my booty to that.’ So, yeah, I think the live show is important to us and we do think about it. Our live shows are known to be high energy and energetic – and we love that.

Your music is so intricate and your art is so intricate, how do you do that on stage and maintain that intricate message? <DavO> A lot of it comes from knowing your crowd and knowing what to expect. Some of the challenge is that some of this new record is kind of R&B and more downtempo. That might be tough for us to pull off live, because we can do dance music and we can serve that – but taking it down a bit will be a challenge for us. But it’s like a DJ set; it’s a journey. We need to think about it like a soundtrack. Of course, we have to remember that everyone is pretty much A.D.D. right now <laughs> So we have to craft something so people don’t want to go get a drink while you’re performing.

<Krylon> But high-energy is not a problem for us. We can bring that heat any moment of the day. But the challenge for us might be some of the other dynamics of the new tracks.  But it’s a challenge we are up for! <laughs>


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