The TV show RuPaul’s Drag Race has bought mainstream attention to the drag world unlike any other show before. But just like any other reality or competition show, it is what you do with the platform that determines where you end up. Born Aaron Cody and growing up in Iowa, Sharon Needles rebelled against his conservative upbringing by moving away, creating her character Sharon Needles, and incorporating goth, punk, and the macabre into his drag persona. Her style of drag attracted a massive fan base and she won Season 4 of the show. Rather than rush out a melodyned club track like most of the contestants have, she wrote and recorded a full-on artist album that blends rock and electronic music in a unique and cohesive way. What’s really impressive, aside from the quality of the album, is how active she was at the Winter Music Conference – speaking on panels, hosting the IDMA, and making her presence known. She is also a pleasure to speak with, respectful of those who came before her, and not afraid to speak her mind about anything you ask her.
DJ Ron: Listening to your album, I’ve been wondering what your songwriting process is. Do you start with a track and write to it or do you write your own lyrics first?
Sharon Needles: I write all of my own lyrics, but it really depends on the song. A lot of songs, especially “I Wish I Were Amanda Lepore,” was something that I wrote when I was 18 years old. “Dead Girls Never Say No” was also part of my old poetry. I get my tracks in advance and I write my songs according to my tracks. I have a great topliner named Ashley Levy who helps me make sure that everything sounds phonetically correct and that the timing of words is correct. My production company, Killingsworth Records, are phonetic Nazis. The way that they look at timing and think of vowels and words in a song is very important to them. It is all my writing, but they just kind of chop it up and help me make it “correct.”
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