You may love or hate Cazwell. You may not even know who he is. But one thing is for sure, he sure doesn’t give a damn. Probably the first, bold “openly gay” rapper, Cazwell definitely will leave a mark on you, perhaps literally or metaphorically. Uncensored and unabashed, the singer of several song titles such as “Unzip Me,” “All Over Your Face,” and “Tonight,” shares his feelings about what we can expect when Cazwell rides his “Ice Cream Truck” into town. And it certainly isn’t to “See Beyonce at Burger King.”
Rumor has it that this will be your DJ’ing debut in Atlanta! Tell us a little bit about what to expect from you at the Rainbow Days event your will be performing at.
It will be the first time I’ve DJ’d in Atlanta! They chose me, and it sounded like a fun daytime gig. It’s at an amusement park so you know there’s going to be a really fun vibe and music along with it. I like DJ’ing, but when I first started, I hated it because I didn’t feel like it really captured the essence of what it is to perform live, but now that I have performed more and more, I can use megaphones and really go with the energy of the crowd, and have dancers in the background in specific themes and costumes. I treat these performances like it’s a party that I’m throwing.
Is there anything in particular which prompted your expansion into spinning beats? And are there any other projects we may possibly expect from you later down the road like a memoir or a journal of all the lessons and experiences you’ve accumulated while traveling?
I don’t think I’m so popular yet to write a memoir, and I don’t really write a “diary.” I do write like three pages a day, but not in a formal way, just more along what I’m feeling at the moment. As for DJ’ing, I’ll be honest; it started as another way to make money. I got asked by a lot of people, “Oh Cazwell, a lot of people know you, come DJ.” And that’s the initial reason I started. And now, it’s like an opened window of opportunity because it’s a definitely a challenge to me, and that’s why I like it. I think you always need a new challenge to continue learning and growing. I watched this Japanese movie and the thing that stuck with me from it was that if you choose what you love to do, never complain about it. If you do it with dignity, people will respect you.
Do you have any specific ritual to bring a “piece of home” with you when you’re homesick and feeling a bit solitary? What do you enjoy doing when you’re not performing for an audience?
I actually toured a lot with Amanda Lepore and she always wears a lot of “sparkling things,” so we have a joke to make sure that she doesn’t “outshine” me. So, I put crystals on my hat, and it was actually her idea, so there’s always some form of crystals on an accessory that I’m wearing. I usually try to fit in a nap right before a performance because I don’t have a lot of free time when I’m traveling. At the end of the month, I’ll be doing Poptronic in Barcelona, and so that’s me right now. There’s a lot of back and forth. June is really busy, and August is getting busier. So I’m not like of those people that brings a pillow or something. I’m thinking of getting a space bag though.
It seems there have been many unexpected but successful combinations that resonated with the LGBT community like Eminem and Elton John. What do you anticipate the dynamic between Tiffany and you will have for the Rainbow Days 2012 event?
We’re not singing together or anything, but I think it’s amazing that I’m even doing a show with Tiffany. In a way, it’s slightly intimidating, but I’m trying to treat it as a pretty basic affair, but I never really thought of that until you mentioned it. I think it’s great though that you have icons from two different genres uniting the community together. I think it’s pretty fearless that she’ll be there and I’m hoping to get some Tiffany souvenir shirts. I hope she brings back those retro t-shirts.
What is it that you think makes a gay icon, a “gay icon?”
There are two types of gay icons. I think history has shown that gay men have usually connected with strong women like Kathy Griffin and Margaret Cho who do amazing things for the gay community like AIDS charities, but I’m not Elton John or anything. I’ll never be like, “Hey, wouldn’t it be it cool if Lady Gaga was our godmother? Let’s call her.” What makes a gay icon a gay icon is that their opinion or expression is relatable to the gay community and they get their point of view across.
Last time you were here, you were performing at Jungle in September. What do you think it is about Atlanta’s gay scene that makes it “Atlanta,” versus a location like San Francisco’s gay culture?
My last show in Atlanta was good. I have two good memories of Atlanta. One was this guy who kept on giving me the middle finger during a show, and I just kept on devoting all my songs to him. I don’t really know why. The second was that this girl was super nice to me and asked for my phone number, and so I did. Then we found out she posted my number online and then my publicist told me never to give out my phone number again. She was trying to deny it, and was like, “Is there anything I can do for you?” but we had proof that she did it. So I was like, “Uh yeah, lose my number.”
So, if we happen to see you at Burger King late one night after a performance, what can we expect to see you eat?
The only reason I would be at Burger King is to get my ten dollars back from Beyonce.