Lagoona also competed (and won) on an episode of Nailed It! A self-proclaimed “mermaid pop princess”, Lagoona just released her solo debut, appropriately titled Aqua. Lagoona describes the album as “a dreamworld that explores love, the highs and lows of relationships and the sensual fantasies in between.”
As bubbly and effervescent as one can be, Lagoona sat down with us for an in-depth chat where she talks about how she transitioned from the Broadway stage to the drag runway, how she is on a mission to change the perception of drag music and, of course, all about the new album. Come under the sea with us and get to know more about this super talented performer (and future Drag Race competitor..?)
Congratulations on the new EP, Aqua. It’s amazing.
Thank you. Oh my gosh. I think that I you’re going to hear that a lot from me. I’m gonna sound like a broken record today! I’m so grateful for that. That means the world to me because I’ve worked so hard on it. And to, to know that it’s finally on its way out and that you know that you like it, and then people are going to start listening to it. It’s just, it feels surreal. It doesn’t feel real. It feels like a dream.
Let’s get to know a little more about you.
I’m David Brumfield, that’s my model name. (Laughs) I just turned 30 years old, and I moved to the city in 2014 to pursue a career in acting. I had my degree in musical theater, and I wanted to be an actor and all of that. And I was actually doing pretty well here in the theater scene. I was booked a lot. I was always working, but I was always like doing roles that didn’t make me feel like a star. I’m a character type, which is usually the funny sidekick track in theater, and it got to be really frustrating because I was 25 years old, and I was in the back and not dancing. I would come on and sing a line here or say line here, or I would have one big song, but that was it. And, and I felt this pull, like I can do so much more than this.
In 2016, I did a workshop of a new musical called Toast by Carner and Gregor and they needed a beautiful voice and a drag queen. So obviously I was like, well, I have the beautiful voice. I don’t know about the drag queen, but I auditioned and I got the part. And in rehearsals for that show, I fell in love with being allowed to be hyper feminine on stage. There’s so much toxic masculinity in theater, and I’ve always been taught to be very manly on stage. And so, to totally negate that, I discovered just to be myself, which is hyper, hyper feminine and not only to be encouraged, but to be celebrated for doing that was such an eye-opening thing for me.
I came back to New York and people are like, “Oh, are you going to do drag?” And I was like, “I don’t know.” And then later that year I got cast in a musical. I got cast on the Broadway tour of Elf. And in rehearsals, it was the same thing. It was a character part where I was in the ensemble, but I had a bunch of little character parts when I wasn’t dancing and there was something that was missing. In rehearsal, our director was like, “Hey, David, you’re so good. Oh, wow. You’re just so talented. But just stop acting, just say the words as fast as you can, we’re trying to get the lines out.” And that was the moment that clicked for me I thought, I don’t think I want to do this anymore. I want to do drag.
And so, in 2017, I decided to do drag full time – and it was the best decision I’ve ever made. I’ve never been happier and like all the things I’ve ever wanted to do as David, all of them like to dabble in reality television, to perform in front of the Simon Cowell, to do commercials. Everything I’ve ever wanted to do has come true because of Lagoona. I’m doing exactly what I was made to do, especially music. I’ve always wanted to create music. And now Lagoona is the vessel for that. And not only that, it’s like a dream because I never, in a million years, would have ever thought that I would be so accepted and celebrated for doing what I love to do, which is to literally dress up like a beautiful woman, a mermaid from the bottom of the ocean and create music.
And so now to have that opportunity and for it to be so well-received without a giant platform like Drag Race is, is really exhilarating. And I feel so lucky and so blessed that I get to do this. I’m overwhelmed by the response. I’m so happy. I’m just so grateful.
Who are your musical inspirations?
Well, my first two icons ever were Britney and Christina. I grew up in the evangelical Christian Church and something that was really specific to my household is that we were not allowed to listen to secular music. And I remember being in the third grade and going to church and they asked me what I wanted for Christmas. And I said, “Oh, I want the new Britney Spears CD” and my teacher pulled me aside and chewed me out and I cried, because I was so upset about it. I had to hide them, and I remember I would go upstairs into our entertainment room and I would plug the CD in and play it on volume one and just sit with my ear by the speaker and listen.
I mean, the only reason I riff is because of Christina Aguilera, because I played her songs over and over again. And I would practice the riffs over and over again. That’s where a lot of my vocal agility comes from. And as far as like style and influences, Britney is the icon, she was the 90s diva for me. Something about [Aqua] that I Iike is that there’s a little bit of 2000s nostalgia in it, specifically in “Bedroom Song”. If I were to take the album, it’d be Britney, a lot of Ariana because now Ariana’s my girl…and, yeah, Britney, Ariana, and a little Christina, but all Lagoona, you know what I’m saying? (Laughs)
So, how did Aqua come about?
Well, it was really interesting for me because if you would’ve asked me in 2020, do you want to release an EP? I would have been like, yeah, duh. And like, how would I make that happen? It wasn’t necessarily planned. Obviously the pandemic was really horrible for everyone. It’s just such a tragic thing and I definitely hesitate to say that I was grateful for it.
However, I do think that the silver lining of it for me was that I went from working five, six nights a week in drag – which was an amazing thing. It’s amazing to be a full-time entertainer in New York, but I was working so much and so hard that I didn’t have the time or the mind space to dive into another form of creativity. So of course, within quarantine, all we had was time. So, I discovered this little app called Voisey, it’s this app where it plays a beat over and over again. and you can record yourself with your iPhone headphones. I started playing with it and within the first few days I wrote “Greedy with My Love”. It just came out of me. The way I write, I hear a beat and I come up with a melody and it just happened very serendipitously.
When I say that it like totally fell in my lap, it was very that. So, I met my, I met my friend Carson, SIXFOOT 5, my producer on Cinco de Mayo of last year. It was right when the restrictions had lifted a little bit. I was painting at the time because I stopped doing drag obviously. I’m an artist and it’s like my side gig. I went to go drop off a painting at a friend’s house and Carson was there and, you know, they invited me in for a drink. I told him I’m writing a little bit of music right now. He heard the song, he looked at me and he said, “I’m going to make this song for you.” And the record just happened. Within one or two recording sessions, we had “Greedy with My Love”. If you listen to the EP, every single one of the songs either started either in a recording session or in my phone, in my Voisey. It was born out of, you know, not boredom, but it just happened.
It was meant to be and that’s the thing that I love the most about it is that it was my solace. It was the thing that got me through this last year. 2020 was so difficult. I had just recently gone through a breakup and my two best friends had just gone on Drag Race, and I had just auditioned and been denied, so I had nothing else to do. And I’m so, so proud of it. And I think like I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. And had I been cast on Drag Race, I would not have this project. I love that this project is setting me apart as an artist. I’m not just a drag queen. I am a singer/songwriter/performer.
I know it’s like picking your favorite child, but is there a song on Aqua that you’re particularly proud of?
I think I have two that I’m really proud of. “Hands”, my second single, is definitely one of my favorite tracks on the EP. I describe Aqua as a dream world because the album explores all of the highs and lows of relationships and how they affect me or how I’ve been affected by relationships or how I act in a relationship. And so, all of the songs are a fantasy in how Lagoona or I would act. And “Hands” is based on a personal experience that I had with my ex, and what’s really interesting is that I was not my favorite at first. I remember working on it and I was like, “Oh, okay, cool”. But I like this, right? When I finally got the first demo of it, I was walking home and I listened to it for the first time from start to finish by myself. And then I just lost it. I hadn’t really mourned or grieved the loss of that relationship, because I was the one who ended up letting him go. And then, of course, the pandemic happened right after and I didn’t have any time to grieve because the entire world was in a state of grieving. “Hands” is just so special to me because it’s real. I experienced that. On the flip side, I love “Game Boy” and “Bedroom Song”. I liked them all. (Laughs) I liked them so much because they were just an extension of me.
What was the experience of working on the video for “Hands” like?
The production was actually very interesting and scary because it was my first music video and it’s very easy for me to admit that I’m a struggling artist. Nothing has ever been handed to me. I don’t really talk to my family anymore. I’ve worked really hard for the things that I have and for my career and the production of the video was actually incredibly fast and scary because I had not planned to make a music video. And I started working with my manager and I started talking to a PR team and they told me “you need a music video.” And I said let’s do it. And so, I called my friend Austin and he asked, “What’s your budget?” I replied, “nothing.” And he was like, okay, great. (Laughs)
It’s actually amazing because that music video is literally a collaboration between so many of my friends who believe in me, I’m literally wearing Jan’s hair. I pulled a jacket from my friend, Casey Caldwell, an incredible designer in New York. I’m wearing a leotard from Capezio and thigh highs. It’s a very simple set. I felt really pulled to gravitate towards something that was really simple, not only for budget, but because. It’s what it’s, it just felt right for the song. It’s also something I’ve never done before because I like big, beautiful costumes.
I have lost a lot of weight in my life. I’ve lost over a hundred pounds now. What’s interesting about losing that much weight is that you feel like it’s an accomplishment. I’ve done it, however, I am still like tormented by my own skin. It’s something that I’ve always been really self-conscious about and the idea of “Hands” is about being touched and so feeling exposed felt right.
And so, for this song that so personal to who I am, I felt really drawn to not necessarily expose myself, but to be vulnerable. The turnaround was quick and beautiful and I love it. And I’m really excited for the next music video, because that one, that one honey, we going in on that one! (Laughs)
What is going to be the next video?
My next single is “Wings of Love”, which is like the summer anthem of the EP. It’s just euphoria. It’s all about those amazing, beautiful sensations that you feel when you start first start to fall for somebody or when you’re like, “I think I like you, let’s try it.” What’s really interesting is that that song did not start that way. That song, I was very inspired by “Love to Love You Baby” by Donna Summer but I don’t have a summer. It was very like “Naughty Girl” and “Blow” by Beyonce. I wanted it to be strings and easy and it was – the first demo of it is like super, super easy and theatrical in a sense, because it doesn’t have any of that. SIXFOOT 5 was the one who pushed it in this summer pop anthem direction and I’m so thrilled that we did it.
For me, Aqua tells a story of Lagoona and for me, especially after “Hands”, it’s like, this mermaid comes back under water, it’s like an underwater disco and she knows that she wants to be on land and she knows that she wants to walk and that she wants to run, but not only that she wants to fly. I’m really excited about it.
What are you hoping overall to achieve with your music?
Well, something that I really want to achieve with music, especially as a drag artist…all over the world there are incredible drag artists who are taken very seriously as pop artists. Some of them that come to mind are like Pabllo Vittar and Gloria Groove. They have millions of followers and they create incredible music and they are drag queens – and that hasn’t really happened in the United States, other than RuPaul. RuPaul has changed the game with “Supermodel”, but ever since then, there’s never really been a drag act that has really like, you know, really created…I mean, not to say that there hasn’t been music that’s been created, but I just, I feel really called to break that boundary, to break that expectation. I feel like drag music in the United States is pushed into a box. People think that you can only hear it at a club and that, people think, “Oh, a drag queen singing, you’re going to hear like, ‘Rrrrra-ka-ta-ti-ti-ta-ta.’” I really just want to change people’s minds about what I do, because if my song was on the radio, it would fit right in with Dua Lipa and Sam Smith the pop divas. And that’s really what I want to do. I mean, like if I’m thinking big goals, like I want to go to the Grammys, I want to win best pop vocal, and that’s thinking big. I really want to change people’s minds.
I really want people to listen to [Aqua] and be like, “Whoa, this is great music.” Oh my God. And something too, is that this is relatable. You know, it’s not about getting drinks at club. It’s not about being gay and out with your girls – which is great, don’t get me wrong, but there’s a connection about love and emotions. I want to raise the bar for drag queens. I want there to be a new standard. I want people to really be blown away and I think I can do it.
What do you think the future holds for you?
The future? Obviously I want to be on Drag Race because, there’s a huge platform there, but not only that, I grew up in the evangelical church and so something that we that’s, something that’s always stuck with me is that, you know, as, as Christians (I’m not really a Christian anymore), we’re supposed to be the salt of the earth and sprinkle like the word of God everywhere. And, for me, I want to do the same thing but through my art. I want to bring people light and love and joy. I want to inspire others to be the superheroes that they are. No one believed in me growing up, no one told me that I was going to be successful. I mean, as a matter of fact, a lot of people told me no and told me that I would never amount to anything because of what I’m doing.
I want to inspire others to do the same. So of course, naturally I would love to be on Drag Race. I would love to have that exposure, but for me more than anything, I see myself on the radio. I see myself at award shows. I want to change people’s minds about what drag music is.
I want to be, I want to be a really big fucking deal (laughs), but only because I want to share that message of light and love. I want people to feel good and I want people to have somebody in the mainstream that is queer and not only queer, but hyper queer and expressing themselves fully.
The future is very bright. I feel like as long as I keep working as hard as I’m working and maybe even harder, I feel like I can get there. I see really big, big, blue, bright things for Lagoona.