If Lena Lovich and Nina Hagen got together with Nicki Minaj – in the looks department, anyway – you’d get someone who vaguely resembles Nicky Click, an outrageous indie musician who first landed on our radar during the electro boom in the mid-2000s. Her “I’m On My Cell Phone” not only became one of the most played videos on LOGO when it was released in 2008, but this New Englander has since dropped her third solo album, Metaphorically… Of Course, on her own label, Crunks Not Dead Records.
As she embarks on a new tour this summer, with stopping points in major U.S. cities, not to mention Montreal and Toronto Pride, audiences will get a taste of her wild live shows that combine a kind of post-punk-cabaret-electro feminism theory with a whole lot of costume changes.
We talked to Click about what makes her alter ego tick, the new album, and why she likes the Magnetic Fields so much.
AfterEllen.com: You cross over into so many different genres, everything from cabaret to punk. What inspires your unique musical style?
Nicky Click: Well, I think (it’s about) everything around me and the people that enter my world. On this record, I did channel a lot of teenage Nicky Click, with the Rocky Horror Picture Show cover and kind of the more quirky songs I usually do, but then it was like, why not take these pop-rap sort of weird songs and literally make them like Broadway and over-the-top theatrical? So I did and pushed myself. I am a hard femme, a punk femme, and the grit of that is reflected in my music.
AE: What about your on-stage style? Where does your colorful fashion sense come from?
NC: Let’s start writing a book about this on! I honestly am almost more into costumes and dress up time than music [laughs]. It’s endless.
AE: Do you make your own costumes?
NC: Yes, it’s me in a barn with a hot glue gun and whatever I can get my hands on at the dump. I like over-the-top fashion – the Goth, slutty, and confusing costumes. But for most new shows or festivals, I make a new outfit for each one. It’s a lot of work, but I love it.
AE: People have compared you to artists like Nina Hagen. But what’s really behind your performance?
NC: Oh, Nina! My performance is basically me on stage singing to music and living each word like it’s my last. Performing is so intense for me as I am 10,000 percent present with the audience, baring my proverbial 10-year-old self. I want my show to be like a womb opening where the audience and I become one, where we can all dance and be loved.
AE: Your latest album has a different sound from your last two projects – it even offers a glimpse into alt-country. How did that come about?
NC: I spent five years making the album. My first two albums came out in five years, so that says a lot to the time that passed between releases and how I evolve. I always say I have my own little Madonna metamorphoses every few years – or day even! I had recorded so much and had so much material after five years, so I just had to go through and pick my favs. It’s an eclectic mix of what I did over that time, a time capsule for sure of my life. The alt-country is something me and Mr. Owl have worked on for about six years. We actually have put out two albums of just alt-weirdo country together on Foxie Records, and he has nearly 10 solo albums.
AE: You mentioned Mr. Owl. Tell us about that.
NC: Well, they are my best friend and co-producer. We don’t share the stage, but they are very exclusively behind the scenes. Mr. Owl keeps me in check!
AE: Besides Mr. Owl, who do you listen to for inspiration?
NC: My most fave band on earth is the Magnetic Fields. They make me cry so easily. I am a Cancer, so I am constantly crying at the beauty of it all, but they hit the spot weather you are happy or sad. I also love Scream Club.
AE: Does being so versatile create any challenges for you when it comes to being booked or even getting album’s produced?
NC: Well, I do all my production myself, so that’s no problem. I am my own boss if that’s what we’d call it. The Nicky Click character singing the country is called “Cactus Rose.” I have dabbled in bringing aspects of her and some of her songs into the Nicky Click show – and it has gone well. I am learning to play guitar, so maybe someday I can put some more Cactus Rose out there live, although I am not really sure anybody would be as interested in that and not my ass. Just kidding.
AE: Speaking of your ass, what’s generally the audience reaction to your outrageous stage shows?
NC: Outrage! Sometimes people who have stumbled off the road drunk into one of my shows are highly confused, but most crowds get it and they groove with me and I just want people to enjoy being entertained. There are deep meanings to many of my songs and reasons for doing any of this in general, but my main purpose is to be a strong female presence on stage, taking up some space, commanding attention and many people can get into it. I am sure it turns some people off.
AE: What’s the difference between your public and private persona?
NC: Now this is something I would like anybody reading to take note of. Nicky Click is a character, a parody, not me. People get really confused when I am in costume and think I am this big bitch when really it’s just acting. I am actually really shy, live in my PJs and spend zero time in the nightclub life when I’m not on tour. Yeah, we’re two completely different people.
AE: How does your sexuality play into your work? What message are you hoping to send to audiences?
NC: My message is always “love yourself, be queer and know you are magic.” My message has always been about fun and feminism, politics as a beat as it were. I came out right away with my first album, as a conscious decision to let fans know it’s OK to be a high queer femme and not hide. Some artists never literally say it, but I think it feels so good to know that, “Hey, this person is like me and it’s no big deal.” In fact, it’s utterly fabulous!
AE: What can we expect from your tour this summer?
NC: I’m playing Montreal and Toronto Pride and have a new music video!
AE: What’s something about you that may really surprise even your most die-hard fans?
NC: I sleep with my baby blanket every night.