JODIE: THE PAST, THE PRESENT AND THE FUTURE OF THE UK DRAG SCENE

MUSIC

She is the household name of the UK drag scene, providing us with both beats on the dance floor and a beat mug on the runway, Jodie Harsh joins us as we manage to grab the walking icon for a chit chat about adjusting to the new normal, re-discovery in lockdown and the future of drag.

SEP 2020

'JODIE'

ARTWORK DESIGNED AND CREATED BY JACK ALFIE

COVER AND INTERVIEW PRODUCED BY CHARLIE LONG

OTHER IMAGES TAKEN BY EIVIND HANSEN

From her infamous wigs to her groundbreaking beats, Jodie Harsh is one of the UK’s leading ladies of drag, with a magnetic presence and a true yearning for music, it is no wonder the living legend has been gracing the club scene for so long. Jodie’s multi-dimensional career and high social regard have been earned through years of fierce dedication to her craft, as well as a good old dance in a DJ booth from time to time. Of course, with the new normal surrounding us and the club scene being taken away, many of us who rely on nightlife have had to find ways to adapt, including Jodie Harsh. 

 

We managed to grab the busy DJ and music star live from lockdown to catch up on how London’s finest has been adjusting to the new way of life, whether it be having to put DJ sets on from her living room to making music from her bedroom, we dived into everything Jodie Harsh, looking at the past, being in the present and taking on the future. 

 Lockdown, how has it been for you living in this new world and climate and having to shift

your work to being completely digitally based?

It's been a bit of a trip! At first it was pretty nuts - all my touring was canceled, everything seemed very uncertain in the world. But then you have to just adapt, so I did. The digital DJ sets are sort of a 'best solution' - there's nothing like a DJ set in front of a live audience and them hearing the music on a great soundsystem and me bouncing off their reaction, but that will come back in good time. I didn't exactly sign up for this job and expect to be DJ'ing to my phone in the living room but needs must!

Who doesn't love a good Instagram live gig?! Of course, we are all missing physical nightlife as the pandemic has taken that all away from us at the moment, what has it been like not having that human interaction? What has it been like having such a big part of your life and career absent? 

For me, it's been really frustrating as I thrive in those environments and I'm very social. I get my ideas from the clubs. For other people the clubs are safe spaces, a place to express themselves and meet people when it may not be easy to do in the rest of their lives - I'm sure that's been really difficult for a lot of the kids and we need that back.

Totally. You have been a DJ for a number of years, created your own music and of course been a walking drag icon, was this how you pictured life growing up?

I never really had a master plan to be honest. I wanted to be an actor, then a hairdresser, then work in fashion. All the really gay jobs! Things just sort of fell into place when I started going to clubs when I was at university, like I found my home.

What was growing up queer like for you?

I think it's difficult for most people, I always knew I was different and didn't fit in from a very early age, but to be honest I loved that. I didn't want to be like 'most people' - I thought they were boring!

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I read in your interview with VOGUE that as a child you wanted to be an actor, what was the experience like to then have the opportunity to appear as a cameo role in ABFAB?

Well that was my favourite TV show growing up, so when I got that call I was so excited. We filmed at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern and honestly it was so fun - especially being directed by Jennifer Saunders. Joanna Lumley even came by to say hi to everyone on set. It was very surreal.

I can only imagine! I saw you recently went away to Ibiza during lockdown, what was it like going to 'the part island' without the 'party' element of it we are all so used to?

It was actually really nice - very chilled, less rowdy. Just late night meals and lovely beach days with my friends. The island didn't seem that quiet to be honest - masks are mandatory on the streets and obviously the bigger clubs aren't open this season but other than that it seemed to be business as usual.

Of course, drag in the last decade has blown up, with the introduction of Rupaul's Drag Race and so many young queen's now circulating the different nightlife scenes, what has it been like to watch the art of drag take off in the way it has?

It's been exhilarating to watch - I always knew it would take off like this. It requires so much talent, focus and fighting against adversity - therefore the people who put themselves into this career are always special, and finally there's a huge public platform for their stories to be told. Long may it reign!

QUAZAR DIGITAL ISSUE - "JODIE" - JODIE HARSH

Now that things are starting to open up slightly, of course albeit nightlife still very much being off the cards in terms of nightclub, what are your plans for the future and what do you want to achieve heading into this 'new normal'? 

Releasing tons of new music - my EP Beats and Pieces just dropped, which is four bangers, ready for the dance floor. Can't wait for clubs to open so I can play it live.

Yes, 'PARIS' is doing incredible numbers and rightfully so! I am excited to hear what else you have been cooking up! To finish, what advice would you give to someone struggling with their identity?

It takes time to work out who you are, especially with so much information and so many opinions thrown at us all day, so breath and do that on your terms. Life is a journey, not a destination.