Perpetual Change — Rouge Mary

| Apr 6, 2015

Interview with Rouge Mary of Hercules and Love Affair

Rouge Mary

Rouge Mary

The last TransVocalizers column that we posted, September 2014, was a review of the latest Hercules and Love Affair project, Feast Of The Broken Hearts. The current line-up of the band includes a singer named Rouge Mary, who definitely caught my eye. Not only is she visually striking, but has a very intense style and professional attitude.

I had contacted the PR agency in New York City that had initially sent me the CD, and inquired about obtaining an interview. It took some time, but she finally contacted us and we set up the interview. So, it’s with great pleasure that TGForum/Perpetual Change has this opportunity to introduce our readers to an extraordinary vocalist and entertainer, Rouge Mary.

TGForum: I know you’re French and living in Paris. Where are you from originally?

Rouge Mary: Yes, I am. My parents are Algerian. I was born in a little city in the north of France. Arrived in Paris at 18, easier to get closer to my dream.

TGF: In one press release, I saw a mention of a “gospel education.” What specifically does that mean?

RM: I knew at a very early age I wanted to be a singer, but the style was not determined, and because I believe in Jesus Christ, I thought I wouldn’t make a mistake singing for Him. So instead of going into opera, rock or pop, singing Gospel was the best way for me to sing and be truthful to my desire.

rouge_maryTGF: Do you have any formal music or theatrical training? If so, where at?

RM: I had my singing training through gospel choirs, and after about ten years, I felt the lack of visual asset, then opened up to theatrical world. I had a role in Bagdad Café Musical alongside The Steels Singers (gospel band from New Power Generation), and then another role in Streetcar named Desire, staged by New Yorker Lee Breuer at the “House Of Moliere” French National Theatre, la Comedie Francaise.

TGF: What are your musical influences? In other words, what did you listen to growing up? And, what do you listen to now?

RM: Growing up, I was always mesmerized by artists who would play with gender identities. So Boy George was of course on the list, just as Annie Lenox, Ziggy Stardust, Prince Skunk Anansie or Denis Bortek…

When I started using my singing voice, the sound was to me more important than the look, so I listened to Aretha, Janis Joplin, Otis Redding, and every powerful vocals would captivate my attention and helped me build my own voice.


TGF: Prior to Hercules and Love Affair, what were you doing musically?

RM: I was singing in theatre plays and different bands, playing in Parisian cafes alongside John Margolis, a great jazz musician from New York.

TGF: What’s it like working in a band like Hercules And Love Affair, where there is more than one vocalist, representing different styles? Who makes the final decision as to who sings what?

RM: It’s amazing having the opportunity to sing in HALA. At first, I was not so excited about singing in a band with no live instruments. Electronic music has never been in my playlist. But Andy Butler was really reassuring and convinced me that there is musicality in it too. As for who decides who sings what, it’s a bit of a mutual decision. I would say, “I love the track My House.” Andy would say, “I think your voice would sound good on it.” We try it on a live show and there we go. Sometimes we also swap just for excitement and change. The experience I had with gospel choirs really helps the ego part. My philosophy is there’s room for everyone, every style and every voice, as long as you rock it! So, no ego conflict.

TGF: Your most recent project is with DJ Mason. You’re featured on Gotta Have You Back on his album, Zoa. Is this a sort of one shot deal? Will you continue to take on side projects such as this during down time with Hercules?

RM: Yes, of course. “Gotta Have You Back” I wrote on Mason’s music after I had met one of them in Amsterdam and had a great feeling with them. Then we said, we should do a track together. As simple as this. If I have a good feeling with an artist and there’s a good sound, making song together becomes obvious and exciting. So of course it might happen again with various artists. Like it did with The Subs from Belgium or Chateau Marmont from Paris.


TGF: When did you start performing in drag? Was it difficult at first to mix that with your music?

RM: I think theatre got me using make up more than normal. I met this amazing make up artist called Beth Thompson at Comedie Francaise. She created a make up for my role. And the more make up she would put on my face, the better I felt. Before this I was always representing an androgynous character, long hair and ambiguous silhouettes. I like to describe myself as androgynous more than drag, because I never want to make people think I’m a girl. It matters a lot to me that they keep in mind I’m a boy.

TGF: I’ve noticed from several photos and videos that you vary your appearance a lot. You seem to move quite easily from very femme, to almost androgynous, to even almost camp. You don’t seem to have one style or “look” that’s prevalent. Care to comment? Does this tie in with the music, or is it just sort of how you feel “in the moment”?

RM: It totally depends on my mood and sometimes on the songs I’m signing or venue or the country I’m in. Chameleonism is my way to go with it. Also, it allows me to feel free in my looks and not having to stick to a visual stamp. I just spend time to create a look and feel pretty. It has to do with feminine allure.

TGF: Any solo projects and/or solo tours in your future?

RM: I would love to! And I’m always trying to find a good opportunity to make this happen. Fingers crossed….

TGF: Is it correct to assume that you’ll be working with Hercules And Love Affair again?

Hercules and Love Affair Rouge MaryRM: Of course. Andy is like family to me and I will always consider HALA projects.

TGF: I found this great quote of yours: “My voice does all the training; all I do is exploring different genres.” Are you open to working in any musical genre? Is there anything musically you wouldn’t consider doing?

RM: Ha! Very true! Exploring genres is my point musically and personality wise. I love to be surprised and even more by myself, so ANY kind of music, any kind of looks, any kind of collaboration you might find me in.

rouge_mary03TGF: What advice would you offer to young artists who are just starting out?

RM: I would feel very pretentious giving advice to anyone. Who am I after all?! But for sure, no matter how different or weird you feel, you are. Be that! Fully! Enhance it and embrace yourself. This is always beauty in art.

TGF: In closing, anything you’d like to say that I might not have asked?

RM: Nothing. I’m just happy you didn’t ask my age!


Rev. Yolanda
Rev. Yolanda has a lot going on. She won another Manhattan Association of Cabarets and Clubs (MAC) Award for 2015 in the category Impersonation/Characterization/Drag Artist for Rev. Yolanda’s Old Time Gospel Hour — Be The Love, at The Duplex. Let’s wish the Good Reverend a hearty congrats!

But wait, there’s more! Rev. Yolanda is fast becoming the (Drag) Queen of All Media.  We’ve previously mentioned the movie made about the Old Time Gospel Hour show. While the initial  version has been shown at a few film festivals, a more general release date has yet to be negotiated. Plus, there are still some final edits to be made. But, there is now a coffee table book showcasing the behind the scenes effort to film Rev. Yolanda’s Old Time Gospel Hour. It’s available through and we’ll be reviewing it in this column next month.

Storm Miguel Florez
Storm Florez has posted information regarding the upcoming Trans March in San Francisco on June 26th. Check out  for more information. Storm is also involved with a film project about trans elder and activist Miss Major Griffin-Gracy, as well as working on a new CD. We’ll keep you posted about both projects as we learn more.

Shawna Virago
Shawna Virago is another San Francisco musician we’ve featured in this column in the past.  Last month, she announced the start of a Kickstarter campaign to raise the necessary funds for her next CD project, to be entitled Heaven Sent Delinquent.


The Avener EP by Avener
Avener is a French musician and producer who has released an EP that features several remixes of his hit Fade Out Lines. Prior to the release of the EP, the song had scored over 1 million hits on YouTube and 12 million plays on Spotify.  It has also been on the iTunes electronic charts in Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Denmark and France.

The EP opens with the instrumental cut Panama, which is something of a hybrid in that it’s a definite dance track, but with real guitar and bass lines instead of just techno keyboards. Other songs include Let Myself Go (with Ane Brun — dance with sort of half sung/half spoken vocal), and Hate Street Dialogue (with Rodriguiz), which actually sounds more like a demo than a finished track.

There are four remix versions of Fade Out Lines, with track # 5, the AAlle Farben Remix) being the most musical and the best produced.

As I said, the one thing that caught my attention was the use of real guitar and bass on more than one track. It’s not all techno programed keyboards and that’s a nice change to be found in a remix CD for once.  Of course he’s on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Froot by Marina and the Diamonds
This is Marina’s follow-up to 2013’s  Electra Heart. It’s definitely a departure from her last outing in that the songs tend to see-saw back and forth between being somewhat techno dance and mid-tempo light rock. The best tracks are the title Froot (definitely dance/techno), Forget (dance, but mid-tempo light rock; light rock but perhaps the most radio friendly tune and the most dynamic overall), Better Than That (rock, with a very good retro feel), and Savages, (very danceable rock material).


The project closes with Immortal which contains perhaps the best vocal performance and one of the better production moments, albeit laid back and mid-tempo.

The only thing that I’d say as a real criticism is that Marina’s vocals are sometimes drowned in way too much echo. I know they were going for a retro feel, but they overdid it sometimes. Marina co-produced with David Kosten and used Everything Everything on guitars and Jason Cooper of The Cure on drums. Everything else is Marina’s work.

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Category: Fun & Entertainment, Music

Pam Degroff

About Pam Degroff: Pamela DeGroff been writing for TGForum since the start of 1999. Her humor column, The Pamela Principle, ran until 2005. She started the Perpetual Change music column in May of 1999, and in 2008, Angela Gardner came up with the idea for the Transvocalizers column and put Pam to work on that. Pamela was a regular contributor to Transgender Community News until that magazine's demise. While part of a support group in Nashville called The Tennessee Vals she began writing for their newsletter, and also wrote for several local GLBT alternative newspapers in Tennessee. Pamela is currently a staff reporter for a small town daily paper in Indiana, and is also a working musician.

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