Michete Just Wants You to Remember Her

The Seattle-based musician talks Gaga, transmisogyny, and breaking boundaries.

Michete | Photo by Chona Kasinger for Thrillist
Michete | Photo by Chona Kasinger for Thrillist

Michete is one of the most consistently funny people on my Twitter timeline. She also happens to have talents beyond tweeting including music, videos, and drag performances. I video-chatted with this boundary-breaking artist about her influences, connection to the drag community, and what it means to be memorable.

John deBary: I’ve been a big fan of yours for a while, and I found out about you in the context of drag, but I feel like that’s not an adequate description. How would you describe yourself as an artist?

Michete: That’s interesting that you discovered me in the context of drag because I’m not really a drag queen. I am a musician and I have been recording and releasing music for eight years now, and I’ve only been explicitly performing in a drag context for about four years. I consider myself a musician who likes to do drag. I’m definitely part of the Seattle drag community, but I don’t consider myself to be a drag queen in the traditional sense.

I think I’m hard to categorize for a lot of people: I’m a rapper, but not really; I’m a drag queen, but not really; I’m an electronic artist, but not really; a pop singer, but not really. I’m at this weird intersection of a lot of different influences. There really isn’t too much of an established lane for the kind of artist I am.

JdB: How did you learn to make music? Where do you draw inspiration from?

M: Gaga was a really big deal for me. The Fame came out when I was a weird gay 16 year-old. I was the target demographic. It got me obsessed with the idea of pop stars and the personas and chosen aesthetics—all these very intentional things about how the visual and the sound interact with each other.

Peaches was a really big influence for me. I actually do think she’s someone who I operate in a similar lane to. So, I guess when I spoke earlier about how there isn’t much of a lane for the kind of artist I am, there is: and it’s the Peaches lane. There’s no one really like her. Nicki Minaj was a big influence, Lil Wayne and Kayne West, Kesha. But Gaga was the person who made me want to really go for it.

Michete | Photo by Chona Kasinger for Thrillist

JdB: The “Back of the Truck” video is so great in so many ways. I feel like it’s a great video to introduce people to you. Can you describe the song and the creative process?

M: The other day someone asked me what my theme song was and I told him it was “Back of the Truck.” It’s the most Michete song, I think. The hook came to my mind in 2019 and I was really high in a dressing room at a gig that Gia Gunn was headlining, and I was just doing my makeup and just took a mirror Instagram video selfie and started saying “Acting like a slut, looking like a bitch.” I was just trying to make my friend laugh, but immediately I knew, “Oh that’s going to be a big deal for me someday.”

It’s effectively a song about transmisogyny. It’s a song about me coming to terms with the fact that it doesn’t really matter how well I perform femininity or how legibly or socially acceptable my femininity is, because even if I do that to the best possible degree, I’m still going to be subject to so much scrutiny. Even if I were to pass flawlessly in society and fit inside this narrow box of acceptable femininity, my reward for that is that I just get to experience regular misogyny.

I still want people to enjoy the song on a really shallow and primitive level. I don’t need people to be thinking this deeply about it, but it is a song about transmisogyny and how I’m going to perform womanhood on my own terms.

Michete | Photo by Chona Kasinger for Thrillist

JdB: Where does your look come from?

M: When I first started, I didn’t really have a defined aesthetic. I always wanted to have a very striking visual presence. I talked earlier about Gaga and how important it is to have a visual that ties to the music. And also, I don’t want to be on stage looking boring, you know what I mean? A central ethos of Michete is that I never really care if people think that something is good or bad, I just want them to remember it.

JdB: I feel like your makeup’s changed recently, too.

M: It’s changed a lot. I had my little acid doll phase where I would splatter paint that was inspired by being on acid and wanting to have fun looking at myself in a mirror. After I got my FFS [facial feminization surgery], suddenly my bone structure is way different. I don’t really do anything the way you’re supposed to. I just do things that make sense to me.

JdB: What’s on your to-do list for 2022?

M: I have a few things planned. Macy Rodman just put out her remix album that I’m featured on, which was so sick and a complete honor. I’m, like, obsessed with her. I have a few other collabs and fun things I’m doing right now, and I also want to start getting really into the meat of my debut album. I don’t think I’m going to release it this year, but I’d like it if it was at least mostly done by the time 2023 rolls around.

I’m trying to pivot back into focusing on my music as my primary artistic outlet, but I never want to lose touch with the drag community here. I also have some parties and events I’m producing locally that will be announced soon—that’s effectively going to be my way of keeping that connection strong. The overall vibe for 2022 is throwing myself a bit further into my art.

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John deBary is a drinks expert and writer. His first cocktail book, Drink What You Want, is available now, and his next book, Saved by the Bellini is expected in early 2023. He is also the co-founder and president of the Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation, which is dedicated to improving the lives of hospitality industry professionals through advocacy, grant making, and impact investing. John is also the creator of Proteau, a line of non-alcoholic drinks.