Some people idolize sports figures, some idolize pop stars, I worship journalists (and drag queens and pop stars, and actors), but I have a sincere professional admiration for those who can get public figures to spill the beans and share things we may not have known about them.
Joseph Shepherd is my interviewing idol. His “Exposed” interviews have helped Drag Race fans get to know so much about the queens. In his insightful and entertaining chats, we’ve learned so much about talented performers such as Willam, Sonique, Shangela, Bianca, and Alyssa Edwards – just to name a few. In addition, he is a producer for the MOM (Moguls of Media) podcast network, for shows including “Hi Jinkx” with Jinkx Monsoon, “The Chop” with Latrice Royale and Manila Luzon, and “Famous This Week” with Priyanka.
Joseph has given us even more entertaining content, as he recently released his debut song, the 90s tinged pop jam “Don’t Call Me.” The song is accompanied by a super campy Scream-inspired music video co-starring Canada’s Drag Race and U.K. vs the World superstar, Jimbo.
With lyrics like “don’t think I’ll be waiting by the phone / just because you’re horny and alone” and “Don’t call me, I won’t answer, don’t you realize you’re a disaster”, Joseph is calling out a cheating ex for hitting his line late at in the night just for attention. Joseph says, “Many will think this is a song about a guy who did me wrong but in fact, the song came from my annoyance of talking on the phone–namely FaceTime. I added in a layer of a cheating ex, because we have all been there or know somebody who’s had a cheating ex. Or hell maybe he’s cheating now, check his phone, girl! When I am stoned, I love singing whatever random melody I craft in my head, so one night I decided to voice memo my nighttime melody and ‘Don’t Call Me’ slowly progressed into what it is now. Catchy. Upbeat. Campy.”
The epic music video for “Don’t Call Me” is directed by Colton Tran, and we see Joseph start out as the Drew Barrymore character in this Scream-inspired pop music romp, with Jimbo as Ghostface–donning very large breasts, in true Jimbo fashion. We were also treated to an MTV-style “Making the Video” about the hilarious clip.
We had the chance to turn the tables on Joseph and get the lowdown on the new song and so much more in our exclusive interview. We also put Joseph in the hot seat and tested him with the Socialite Seven. Get to know this multi-talented, multi-media superstar.
I have been a huge fan of your interviews and I just love “Don’t Call Me!” What prompted you to jump into music at this point in time?
I left my corporate job about a year ago, back in July of last year. I just felt the need to be creative. I’ve always wanted to be the Y2K pop star, just to have one music video and just see what that’s like. And so, it was like a childhood dream that I’ve always had and I decided to make it happen
What was the story behind the song?
The truth is that I was high one night and somebody called me on the phone. And the thing is, I absolutely despise talking on the phone. I don’t like FaceTiming. I don’t really like any of that stuff. And in that moment I was like, don’t call me. And it slowly became like another little beat. And then I hit the voice record memo on my phone and had literally three lines and it just took off from there. So then, every night I would purposely eat an edible and play back the voice note and then keep adding on to it until it became something.
Who else did you work with on this?
The song was produced by Sam J. Garfield who’s done stuff with a lot of people, a lot of the queens in the community. He made the beat behind it. I brought him the lyrics and I brought him the beat that I was thinking in my head, and then he crafted the production behind it. And then we had a mixer and a master who are from Velveteen Music, the people that mixed and mastered Priyanka’s album.
Where did you get the idea for the video?
Scream’s always been a big thing for me. I think that I had the idea of doing a parody of Scream before I even wrote the song. I wanted something to be camp. I think that a lot of times today, the music videos that we get are not that old classic nostalgia, like the late 90s, early 2000s.
I really just wanted that to come together. So once the idea came, I was like, how can I take this parody of Scream and make it camp? And I thought, oh my gosh, Jimbo has to be the killer because Jimbo, in my head, is the villain of the season [of Drag Race UK vs. The World], but like in a good way, he gets the good stuff. You would see Jimbo as a killer.
And so, I literally did a Zoom meeting with him and his husband. And I was like, would Jimbo ever want to do this? And Jimbo was like, yes, I’ll be there. And so we booked him and got him to L.A. So that was the exciting part about it. And the bed scene and all of this stuff that was more of the comical stuff literally came from high thoughts. It was like, how can we keep expanding this? Let’s keep going over the top. Let’s keep it going.
What was it like working with Jimbo on the video?
I have interviewed Jimbo before, but I didn’t know what to expect in person. Jimbo literally is the biggest light in the world. He’s a really, really, really hard worker. It was so funny because the little pasties that he had specifically made for the video that were like Ghostface would not stick on his silicone boobs and they kept falling off. And it was this whole big spectacle over some Ghostface nipple covers.
But Jimbo was a hoot. There were so many times where I was like, how are you doing this? Because it was late at night and he was running in heels on grass over and over and over again. And I kept thinking, oh my gosh, he’s going to hate me for making him run on grass. And then the getting killed part, I thought was the coolest thing with Jimbo. There were takes where Jimbo put the knife actually in between his boobs and killed me that way. He was fully in it and he fully got into character, which was very much appreciated.
Is there more music on the way? Do you think this is the start of something else for you?
Oh, yes, totally. I’ve already been putting in new voice memos for the past couple of weeks and trying to get a new vibe started. I think that progressing into music and visuals is something that I absolutely am going after, but I don’t think that my music will have a clear through line, I guess you would say. I love so many different types of genres and music. I love the 50s. I love the 90s. I love the 2000s, there’s so many different periods. I think the next song, from what I am picking up, it’s going to be very Enya-esque.
You’ve done the interviews. You’re doing music. Is there anything else that you want to conquer, that’s still on your list of things to do?
Yeah, I think I would love to have a TV show like That’s So Raven. I know that’s the weirdest thing to say, but I would love a good comedy show. And if that never panned out, then I would love to host a children’s show like Sesame Street or something. I don’t know why, but when I was younger, those shows were such a pivotal part of my life that I always think that we should be shaping the minds of the children and walking them in nature.
With the song coming out, you’re on the other side of the interview mic. Is that odd for you?
I will say it was completely odd and it was very weird. I know that I held back in some areas and it’s one thing to be confident about something that you do because you’ve been doing it for so long, but then stepping into something else, all of those doubts and every single thing that’s against you becomes right in front of your face again. And I think that was hard.
I’ve watched your interviews and love them because I always learn something new. What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned from any of the interviews that you did?
Okay, this is the craziest thing…I know it’s not that completely insane. I didn’t know that the RuPaul’s Drag Race werk room has four walls. I thought it was only three. And when I talked to River Medway recently, she said, “I legit thought that it was three walls.” And she said, “and when I walked into the werk room, I saw that it wasn’t three walls. It was four walls, so the look on my face was complete shock.” So for me, I don’t know why, but I’ve been going on for the past 14 seasons believing it’s only a three wall werk room, but it’s actually four.
Since you’re in the hot seat now, what’s a question that no one’s asked you yet that you would love to answer?
Oh my gosh. You know what I would love to answer is “What is the biggest misconception of Joseph?” Because I ask people that all the time. The biggest misconception of me, I will say that I think, from an outside perspective, probably that I have all my shit together. I believe that if you’re just meeting me out for the first time, you may think that I’m a little standoffish, shy or bitchy. But I think that those are probably the biggest things.
In social situations, I’m not always the best when it comes to parties and things like that. I’m more in my zone. I am on the spectrum, so when it comes down to like a lot of loud sounds or a lot of people around, I kind of get in my own element. When that happens, people automatically can associate that with bitchy, but it’s literally like there’s 9 million things going on and I can’t concentrate on anything. (Laughs)
Joseph Answers the Socialite Seven
Who has had the biggest influence on your career?
Willam Belli had the biggest influence on my career. Without Willam, in all honesty, I probably wouldn’t even be where I am today. Actually, I wouldn’t. I would still be pursuing the interviews and stuff like that, but I think that Willam just let me do my own thing when I interviewed him. And him being the first person [I interviewed] and then him telling people about it afterwards really helped me kind of get my foot in the door. And he also was the one who ended up recommending me to produce podcasts for MOM. So without Willam, I don’t know.
Musically, who, if anyone, would you like to collaborate with?
Labrinth. I know that’s a very strange answer, but I would love a song on Euphoria, you know, at the end of the day a Joseph Shepherd song on Euphoria with a Labrinth beat? I think that’s ahead.
What kind of music or artists that you listen to would people be surprised that you’re a fan of?
Well, I’m from Memphis, so I obviously love Elvis. I love Tina Turner. Britney Spears is always my diva. I love Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. Frank Sinatra is a big one. The Ronettes and The Chiffons…anything that’s like old school. I don’t know why. I think it’s just a different vibe.
If they made a movie of your life, who would you want to portray you on the big screen?
Oh my gosh. Who would I want to portray me in the big-screen movie of my life? If it were to take place in the future, I would love Ryan Reynolds to play me. And I know that he would have to play down, but I really don’t care.
If you could wake up in the morning with a superpower or a talent that you don’t already possess, what would that be?
Dancing. I cannot dance to save my life. I am the whitest boy in the world. I do not have coordination. I walk like a duck with my feet out. I have tried dance classes. I get so in my own element, I would be eliminated on a dance challenge of Drag Race. So, if I could wake up and dance, I’d love it.
And what are three things you can’t live without?
I cannot live without sleep. Sleep is very important to me. I would say I can’t live without the volume down button on devices. I think that is a very big thing. I think another thing that I could not live without would be Britney Spears. Oh, my goodness! Can I imagine a place without Britney Spears? (Laughs)
Lastly, what is the best piece of advice that you’ve been given?
The best piece of advice that I have been given…So, there’s a lot of times when people will say, “Be yourself and don’t care what other people think.” And I always took that with a grain of salt. I could never connect what that fully meant, but I believe that within the past year and a half, I’ve really understood about being yourself and not being afraid of being yourself.
I guess then the biggest piece of advice that I was given is literally: Be yourself. Act how you are. You’re going to get more opportunities from that and more things are going to come your way. You should never feel embarrassed or socially awkward or anxious being around people. If you’re ever feeling like the people around you are judging you, then you probably shouldn’t be in that environment.
And, you should never go through life thinking that everybody’s thinking something of you or judging you because you’re just causing yourself more worry and more stress than you even need to have, because who knows? Maybe those people aren’t judging you. You don’t know.