Peppermint talks VMAs, new music, her tour with Jujubee and more
From the moment she entered the werk room on RuPaul’s Drag Race season nine, we’ve had a sweet tooth for Peppermint.
This multi-talented performer has appeared on Broadway in Head Over Heels and can be seen inspiring and mentoring aspiring queens on OUTtv’s Call Me Mother. Peppermint is also an accomplished vocalist, recently releasing volume two of her Letters to My Lovers trilogy.
Moment of Weakness highlights the point in a relationship when doubts and resentment start to set in – especially the beginning of the end. “Broken Home” is the first single which features a sultry duet with Jerome Bell Bastien.
Peppermint is hitting the road this November with fellow RuPaul Drag Race favorite Jujubee for a North American tour. The “Letters Live/Good Juju” tour presented by Obsessed will hit such major cities as Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston and New York. The “Letters Live/Good Juju” tour will feature the 2 divas performing with a live band (no lip-syncing for their lives on this stage). The tour is in support of Peppermint’s Letters To My Lovers and Jujubee’s Top 10 chart-topping good juju EPs.
Fans will get an intimate experience with a full show from each artist and maybe even some surprise moments together. Peppermint’s rhythm & blues set will take you not only on a journey of music with song selections from the GLAAD Media Award-nominated Letters To My Lovers Volume 1 & the new Volume 2 and a few unreleased nuggets from the forthcoming Volume 3, but also some humorous and very personal stories included in the live show. Jujubee’s set will highlight songs from both good juju EPs combined with her signature storytelling sharing memories of her time on RuPaul’s Drag Race, Queen of the Universe, and her new podcast “Queen Of Hearts.”
We got a chance to sit down with Peppermint, fresh off her live fashion commentary duties on Sunday’s VMAs to talk about her new music, her upcoming tour, and what’s next in our exclusive interview.
I saw you on the VMAs last night and I thought you looked VMA-zing!
Thank you so much. Wow, that’s a compliment. That’s really clever, I’ve never even heard that. If people ask me later if I had a good time, I might say, “it was VMA-zing!” (Laughs)
So, let’s talk about the tour. How did you team up with Jujubee?
Juju and I have been friends for a long time. We click really well. I mean, obviously because we weren’t on the same season of Drag Race and everything, a lot of people don’t necessarily associate us, but Jujubee and I have a lot of the same musical tastes – a lot of the same love of R&B music, which is obviously a popular genre, but not something that, that a lot of people see drag entertainers singing or doing, especially live if it’s their own original material.
And so, you know, Juju is obviously a really talented lip syncer and drag entertainer and obviously a musician, but I think moving into the world of music is a little newer for Juju. You know, her first couple of albums were only a few years ago. And, you know, it leans R&B, as does my music.
We want to give fans of Drag Race an additional opportunity to see people who maybe they like or love, or are interested to see, do something other than the typical, you know, two-minute lip sync of a remix in a gay bar – which is fun. I mean, that was my bread and butter for so long – but we’re seeing drag entertainers branch out, you know, comedians and musicians and acting on film and television and all these different things. And so why not have a couple of gals singing some original R&B music?
What can fans expect on this tour? Are you going to do any duets together?
Well, there is a surprise coming, but the original core of the show, the idea is two separate shows. It’s her show and my show. Hers has her story. Mine has mine, and it features music from each of our albums, but we are working on something very special, that I can’t quite mention. We’re working on some music that is exclusive to this tour, and some other things that people will only experience if they come to see this show.
You’ve also recently released the second volume of Letters to My Lovers. Was it easier to put together than volume one?
The process for writing volume two was actually a little bit easier because initially when the whole entire idea started, I had just gone through a breakup. I was very emotional and I was like, let me write a song; and then three albums later, we had so much material. And I thought, you know, instead of this just being a jilted lover kind of thing, let me actually go in and talk about my experience. Yes, I was in a relationship and yes, I wanted to murder my ex, but that wasn’t all it was. I wasn’t just like some serial killer. I actually was in love and I experienced some great things and obviously some ups and downs and all these different things. And so, I wanted to be able to have that full story out there and volume two is a little darker and slightly vengeful because I’m moving through the stages of grief with this project. I’m somewhere between the “How dare you?” and “I’ll kill you” stages of grief. This one actually flowed very easily because there was so much passion behind it.
How did “Broken Home” come about? What’s the story behind that song in particular?
Well, I was working with one of my songwriting partners, Adam Joseph, who I’ve worked with for many years on other projects as well, including this. And we were talking about, you know, the idea that my relationship wasn’t perfect today and obliterated tomorrow, it’s little, tiny cracks developing in the relationship. And so, we thought of this as sort of how in a home, cracks in the foundation start to come through that initially you’re like, oh, that’s nothing, you don’t see it.
And then of course it gets bigger the more you ignore it. And so that was the seed for the idea behind the song “Broken Home”. Initially, it was going to be just a solo, and then Adam and I were singing it together – Adam’s also a vocalist. And so, we were going back and forth and I heard him singing it and I was like, this feels like it should be a duet. And so then entered Jerome Bell Bastien who, first of all, is very sexy and second of all has a wonderful voice. It felt perfect. I asked Jerome if would he feel comfortable recording this with me and would he want to sing the song? He said, yes, instantly. I’m just so proud of it. I really do think this song, when I think of the album being an R&B nineties kind of throwback, this is the song that really checks that box. Even though it’s called Moment of Weakness, “Broken Home” is the heart of the album.
And I know you’re working on volume three. What can we expect with that one? Is that going to have a happy ending?
I mean, it depends on the perspective but volume three is definitely transformational. Obviously, this is about the relationship and the end of a relationship. By the end of volume three, I’m no longer in the relationship and I wanted to, as one does – and certainly as I did, I went through, “oh my gosh, I’m alone. I’m this. I’m that” – and how depressing it is. And it was really just focusing on my feelings about myself, but then I had all these people, all this support and love from my friends, from my community around me.
And that enabled me to finish the end of the volume. And so a lot of that reflects in the music and a lot of the lyrics and the themes are really about community the queer community and the trans community and your chosen family, the people who you personally know, cradling you in love and carrying you when they know that you’re depressed about a relationship that’s ended or a big life-changing moment.
On the first volume, you did a fantastic cover of “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?” and then you recently did that Janet Jackson cover (of “If”) for her birthday, which I thought was fantastic as well. Are you planning on doing any more covers?
Absolutely. On volume three, there will be a cover. I’ll just say it’s a Stevie Wonder cover and it’s a beautiful song. So, people have to check it out on volume three, but those who come to the tour will have a chance to hear music from volume three as well. In terms of Janet Jackson, I think we’re going to do another one. We’re actually getting ready to do another one, which I think probably was maybe not a bigger hit, like in terms of the charts, but was definitely a more pivotal moment in Janet’s career, this song in particular. I’m excited to tackle that one. I hope we do it justice.
I loved your story about Janet Jackson, almost hitting you with that you told at the VMAs.
My gosh, it was her tour bus and it’s true. And you know, all of our lives would’ve taken a turn had that actually happened but it was an honor to nearly be flattened by Janet Jackson’s tour bus.
Going back to the VMAs, how did you get to do the black carpet coverage with Monét?
MTV reached out and, you know, obviously Drag Race is part of the MTV family and so they asked us if we would do it. And I said absolutely. I know Bob was also supposed to be a part of the production and so that would’ve been great to have the three of us there. We didn’t even know that Bob was going to the show. Bob surprised us and so we got to be together anyway, but it was great.
Monét is my drag niece and we don’t usually work together that much. People more associate Bob and Monét together. So, the two of us together, it was just a great time to spend some time with my little drag niece. And it was a hootenanny for sure. It was chaos and it was fun and I would do it again.
Now you had a great outfit and so did Monet and I love Bob’s outfit, but who do you think brought the fashion to the red carpet?
I mean one of the more head-turning moments for me was definitely Lil Nas X. What I love about the VMAs you know, it’s not about fashion, but it is. It’s certainly not black tie and people don’t feel pressured to have to go out and spend all their money on designers – not, you know, designers deserve money – but it’s not about that necessarily. It’s about the music, and music is such a personal expression. So, you get to see these artists, these musicians expressing themselves in ways different than actors would at another award show. And so, you know, it’s very casual, but you’ll see some guy in a t-shirt and jeans, which we did, and then we’ll turn around and somebody, their boob is out and you just never know. My boob came out a couple of times.
You never know what’s going to happen and that’s what’s really exciting about the VMAs. I mean, I remember watching moments like the Red Hot Chili Peppers getting completely naked, Madonna and Courtney Love having this sort of tension where they were throwing things at each other – you never know what’s going to happen. One of the guys from, I think, Nirvana during a performance threw his guitar up in the air and bashed himself in the head and passed out. You never know what’s going to happen. It’s always a good time.
You’ve been doing so many things. I love the videos that you do with Bob for Black Queer Town Hall and I heard there’s a second season of Call Me Mother on the way…
Yes. We just finished Call Me Mother season two. It comes out this fall and I’m super excited about it. I was just thinking about this recently since we just finished filming that, you know, I mean, I’ll watch any drag show. I watch all of them, obviously, but the fact that there is a drag reality competition that is focused on sort of the family aspect of it. And the fact that most of these drag entertainers that I know -– and probably most of these celebrities that we know – yes, they have this essence, they’ve got that star power, you know, which is wonderful but then behind that, they’ve got a stylist, they’ve got a publicist, they have a manager, they’ve got an agent, they have someone doing their hair. Sometimes even for the drag entertainers, there’s someone doing their makeup. There’s an entire team that we rely on to make sure we’re where we need to be and what we’re doing.
And so, to be able to be a part of a drag show that shines a little more light on that in terms of the creative process, that these contestants aren’t coming in with publicists but you know, the creative process of conceiving a garment or a performance and what it takes to put all that together and who can help you with that and watching them negotiate with the person making the garment, it’s a great thing to be a part of and to be able to sort of mentor these drag entertainers, that frankly, if you’re doing the drag competition, you’re probably young and newer to your career. I’m excited to see what unfolds on season two. It will be much more dramatic and the level of talent is top-notch. Oh God, it’s heartbreaking…there are a couple of moments. Oh, Lord.
When I talked to you a couple years ago, I had asked you if you had any aspirations of going back to the stage, is that still something that you’re interested in doing?
It is,I am really excited about a few different prospects and this was the first year in a while that I’ve had the chance to really sit down, read some material and connect with it. Because for me it’s all about really wanting to connect with that material. I mean, there are shows that I think would be fun and fabulous to make an appearance in. But when I’m thinking about the type of work that it can take to originate a show, to really put something together. The rehearsals, the meetings, the ideas that you try and then you scrap them because they’re no good and then you have to think of something else. All of that work, which can take months or years to put together, I really want it to be worth it for me.
And if I’m going to do all that, then I want the role to be significant and to have a connection to it. And so finally I found some things that we’re working on right now. I don’t want to talk too much about them but they both are preparing for Broadway. I’m in the workshop process for two musicals.
I, selfishly, want to see you in Six.
Yes! You know, it’s so funny because someone mentioned last night that the outfit that I wore to the VMAs was like reminiscent of one of the outfits from Six. I love the show. I was at opening night and it’s doing so well. It’d be so fierce to be a black trans woman in it. I think it would be fantastic.
Tickets for the Letters Live/Good Juju tour are available here. Listen to Letters to My Lovers here or wherever you stream. Follow Peppermint on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.