An exciting new recording artist and live performer emerging from Brooklyn nightlife, Mel Incarnate is keeping a brand of excitement and edgy excellence in the family.
Thotyssey: Hello Mel! Thanks for chatting with us on this grossly hot day! How are you not melting today?
Mel Incarnate: I just went to get an iced coffee in a bikini, so I am keeping cool by wearing as few clothes as possible! I love New York for that.
She’s always looking out, lol! You’ve been super busy lately, hosting and guest starring in shows, promoting music. Is it fun to be busy, after all that lockdown boredom?
Oh my God, hell yes; I’m super grateful for being busy right now. I’m a triple Capricorn, so that’s kind of my tea. There is a lot of stress behind the scenes of producing, writing and promoting your own art… but it’s been really fulfilling. I’m also in the earlier stages of transitioning, so that also comes with its ups and downs. But I want to be even busier.
Bring on the tasks, lol! Well, we’re grateful to have this moment with you!
So, where are you from originally, and what were your interests while growing up in regards to music, fashion, performance, etc?
I’m originally from Birmingham Alabama. So, a lot of my early influences with music were Christian and country music, as my parents were southern Christians. Being the faggot that I am, I sniffed out the girliest pop I could possibly find on LimeWire: Britney Spears, Kesha, anything slutty and fun. Obviously growing up closeted, I wasn’t dressing how I felt… but I was always obsessed with Playboy bunny looks–like the bunnies from the VH1 show The Girls Next Door. Tits, hair, lashes… the whole thing. Obviously this was all in secret, since my family was not supportive. So now in my mid-20s, that’s where I tend to go to for inspiration.
When did you come to NYC, and how did you find yourself mixing it up with the nightlife dolls here?
I came to New York in 2015, and I was really intimidated by nightlife–I spent the first four years being drunk and sloppy. After I got sober and started to transition, I gained more confidence. With the help of my sister Charlene I’ve been able to meet a ton of people, and it’s been really amazing to meet all of these girls I looked up to for years and be able to perform with them. It’s really fucking trippy, actually… I did a show with my sister and Rify Royalty, and if you had told me a year ago that was gonna happen I would not of believed you.
So is Charlene Incarnate more of a sister than a Mom?
Well, she is my biological sister. And because of the history that we have together, I think we best support each other as sisters and peers. I have to be my own mother.
OMG, I had no idea you were actual siblings! You two grew up together?
Yes! Blood sisters. Lol, could you not tell? Our faces are so similar. I love when people have no idea, that is so funny!
I can certainly see it now! So you two were coming to terms with your identity at the same time. Was that a co-support system for you two, in a household where you couldn’t otherwise be fully open?
Honestly, the environment we grew up in catered to nothing but fear. We were raised in a pressure cooker of homophobia, so we really did not get along until we found ourselves separately.
Did you just recently begin recording music?
I am a Covid Tranny, and a Covid Artist. I found myself in the pandemic, and I found a way to express myself through immense isolation. I began writing around November 2020, and since then have written and recorded seven songs… so it’s a fairly new moment.
When you perform live, are you generally doing these songs?
So far, I’ve just been singing my original music live. It feels kind of strange in a lineup of drag queens, and a little repetitive–but I live for my music, so it’s been fun regardless of my insecurities.
I’m really enjoying your latest single “About Fashion,” which is a little bit about style but largely about all the beautiful flaws and traits that make us unique! How did that song come to you?
I was on my way to a photoshoot, and the photographer asked me “who are you wearing for the shoot?” And it really pissed me off, because I hate that tone of the fashion industry. And I didn’t have the money to buy a cute look, because I just spent money on getting filler in my face. So I told him that I just spent a bunch of money on filler, so “my body is my fashion.”
And I was so heated from it, I wrote a full song. I expanded on that idea, and was like, actually, everything that I’m ashamed of is my fashion. I was realizing that I’m just gonna have to own everything about myself, and be my own cheerleader. In the song I say “oh my God, fashion,” and that’s literally me mocking.
Aaaaak, love it! Macy Rodman is another trans recording artist from Brooklyn nightlife who is currently releasing new music. Macy’s podcast co-host Theda Hammel, who also makes music, once told us that trans music is basically a genre in itself (see also the late, great Sophie). Do you think that’s accurate?
I kinda agree. Of course I have dreams of being a literal “popstar,” but I think myself and other trans artists have a vaster knowledge of music, entertainment, and lyricism. It’s the perspective that makes it different. On the other hand, you have people like Kim Petras working with Dr. Luke who is pumping out incredible pop. But with artists like Macy and I, I feel like we’re really able to put our own fingerprints on the work.
This is a really interesting time for queer indie music! In fact, on August 20th at C’mon Everybody, you will have what looks like a music release party!
Yes, gawd! It’s not as much of a release as it is just a listening party and celebration. I have my friend Medusa coming to open; they are also trans and indie, and really cool. I’m going to give the girls all of the songs that I have been working on and recorded, and will be releasing in the coming months. It’s basically a “what to expect party.” You will see tons of gyrating, and tons of titties… and really good dance music.
And I see that you’ll be doing a Bushwig number in September; that’s going to be everything!
I’m so fucking excited to be in Bushwig this year! It’s always been the secret fantasy of mine, and to see my name on the lineup is fucking crazy.
Anything else coming up?
I have a music video coming out around Bushwig, I have a single coming out mid-September and another in early October… and then I’m dropping my EP around Halloween.
We look forward to it all! So, lastly: because your story is so inspiring, what advice or words of comfort could you give to all the queer kids out there who are stuck in homes where they’re told that they cannot be who they really are?
Listen to that part of yourself that wants to break free, and wants to get out. Let that carry you into a new life… whenever that opportunity comes. You will know.
Thank you Mel!