Freddie Ross Jr., known to nearly everyone in his native New Orleans as Big Freedia (pronounced Free-da), is an iconic figure in several ways. On one hand, he is a flamboyant, larger-than-life representative of gay pride and member of the city’s Sissy culture, a local appellation denoting men with ambiguous sexual identities. A quick scan of stories written about Freedia over the years reveals a tendency to waver between “he” and “she” as the personal pronoun. Although his website bio clearly favors the feminine, Freedia isn’t vested in either form.
“It doesn‘t matter to me,” Freedia says by phone from his New Orleans home. “I’m comfortable with my sexual preference. I know who I am: I am a gay male, I’m not a transexual. Whatever my fans decide to call me, he or she, is whatever.”
On a related but different level, he is a passionate spokesman for Bounce, a bass-heavy, lyric-light Dance genre that has been bubbling in the NOLA/Southern underground for nearly two decades. Related to Hip Hop by virtue of samples and Rap-like lyrical content, Bounce has clearly evolved its own distinct sonic identity, and with Big Freedia’s recently released eponymous five-song EP, distributed by Scion A/V, the style’s profile is about to get the kind of raise one would imagine for a Wall Street banker.
“The five-song CD was a project I had with Scion, the first Bounce CD to get national publicity,” Freedia says. “I’ve been to New York like 13 or 14 times and my shows are getting bigger and bigger. I’m getting bigger in a lot of different places — L.A., San Francisco and all over Canada: Montreal, Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver — and I’m excited about that.”
Big Freedia headlines the MidPoint Indie Summer Series 9:30 p.m. Friday on Fountain Square. Go here to read Brian Baker's full interview.