In the past decade, BeBe Deluxe has become a de facto celebrity in the local Drag Queen scene and overall LGBT community. Outspoken, hilarious, and not afraid to ruffle a few feathers, BeBe (aka Beatrice Palmer) regularly draws crowds to Riverside, where she hosts her weekly Metro Deluxe events every Friday at the Metro Entertainment Complex.
She’s expanding her local-to-global domination with her debut release, Deluxe Enterprise. The EP features five songs, that are a sonic expression of BeBe’s current creative state. Along with being a live performer, she is also a filmmaker and visual artist. Now she adds recording artist to that resume.
“I’d always kind of played around with electronic music on my own, but I never thought I was confident enough in my abilities and knowledge to come forward as an electronic musician.”
At the beginning of 2019, she worked with various friends and hired musicians. “But I came to realize I couldn’t just ‘pay my way’ into this and I’d have to learn.” Five months were devoted to learning how to create a strong beat, along with figuring out mixing basics. Consequently, BeBe composed all of the lyrics, music, and played every instrument in the studio.
The EP was deftly mixed and mastered by Paul Lapinski, who Bebe praises for his quick work ethic and helping translate her ideas into its completed state.
“You know, I could go on a long description and say it’s ‘late 90s/early 2000s revisionist, bombastic, multi-genre pop,” she laughs, when describing her sound. BeBe cites Missy Elliot, Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes, and Keisha as touchstones for inspiration, as well as “deep new wave influences” that she feels like she’s yet to explore. “But at the end of the day, I could just call it: ‘pop.’ It’s just pop music.”
Deluxe Enterprise definitely pops. And it arguably features glimmers of her aforementioned descriptors. Opener “Mad AF” features whizzing electronics, clicking trap beats, and a minimal, fuzzy bass riff. BeBe’s vocals are filtered through effects, issuing a shut-down to gossip fiends and back stabbers.
The electro-rap, summer-y flow of “Cracking Up” shifts gears into introspection and vulnerability. The song features organ for a “church vibe,” with a nod to Motown on the vocal melodies. “I wanted to write a song that was more candid than I allow myself to be and about my general struggles. I have my own unique cocktail of mental stuff to deal with.”
“Bad Taste” and “Messy” boast the same crackle as “Mad AF” albeit with their own style and flavors.
“’Bad Taste’ is about the mixture of shame and apologizing for oneself. It’s also really about people who tear down homosexuals and think that we can’t find love in a same-sex relationship. But that can be difficult in gay nightlife when you measure yourself by how many hook-ups you have. The song is really another opportunity for me to just be honest.”
She describes the song “Messy” as tackling the idea of “reclaiming one’s worst behaviors.” Deluxe Enterprise’s closer “The Sweetest” is a paean to BeBe’s marriage to husband, and photographer, Hayden Palmer.
“I never wanted someone to say the record is ‘Drag Queen music,’” she says. “Drag Queen music is always: ‘I’m the hottest bitch at the club, there’s nobody better than me.’ Well, I’m not the hottest girl in the club. And today so many people’s first attempt at music is rap that’s about money; well, I have no money. I was experiencing some anxiety about approaching the music. But then I just decided to be myself.”
Bebe Deluxe performs at Midnight every Friday at the Metro Entertainment Complex, as well as as the Riverside Wigwood Festival, February 8 at Gramps in Miami.
This feature originally appeared under the headline “The Total Package” in Void Magazine’s February 2020 issue.