An interview with Freckles


A few weeks ago I was sent a link to a YouTube video of this fantastic slow(ish) jam sung by an out artist named Freckles. Her song and video for “Uh Huh” brought me back to my college days (OK, it brought me back to even after my college days) when sometimes there was a thin line between love and friendship and an even thinner line between straight and bi-curious for some of my friends.

While her music is new to me, Freckles has been in the industry for a number of years. She had ghostwritten songs for R&B stars until she realized there was no shame in getting recognition for her craft. She stepped out into the spotlight and has since worked with the likes of R. Kelly, Nina Sky and Lil John’, just to name a few.

Still, there was more for her to do, and in her solo efforts, she’s done a great job of crafting mainstream sexy R&B sounds but singing them from the perspective of a gay woman. In my eyes, that’s a big win for our community.

We got to speak with Freckles to ask about growing up gay, working with R. Kelly and bringing the slow jams to girl-on-girl bedrooms. What was growing up like for you? Did you always know you were gay?
[Laughs] I’ve always been attracted to Penny from Good Times, so I guess inadvertently I did. But I grew up in the foster system so maybe it’s just that I was looking for somebody to love me. I don’t know.

AE: So growing up after figuring it out, what was your coming out story?

The funny thing was, growing up it seems like everyone around me know I was gay besides me! I still dated guys. But then one night I got my adopted family together for dinner and was like, “Sit down, I have something that I want to tell you guys.” So everybody was like, “What? What’s going on?” Meanwhile, I had been practicing what I was going to say in the mirror all day and trying to figure out who would take it the worst. So when it came down to it I was like, “Alright everybody, I have to tell you that I’m gay,” and they were like, “What! That’s all you had to tell us? We already knew that!” [Laughs] They had accepted it without me telling them so they were like, “Well we still love you — can we eat now?”

AE: That’s awesome — meanwhile you were probably pooping yourself in terror figuring out how to tell them.

Exactly! That’s why I was practicing in the mirror all day. I’m glad that they still love me.

AE: Has music always been something you wanted to do?

I guess — well, I used to write poetry and I guess it kind of turned to that. You know, I used to be a badass growing up. I rebelled against everything. I started mimicking Stevie Wonder, Michael, Prince, Luther (Vandross) and it started becoming a part of what I did. I could sound like them growing up so people would be like, “Hey, you sound like Michael!” and I started writing poetry and it just turned to that. I started using it as an outlet to anything that was negative in my eyes.

AE: You’ve done it very successfully! How did you get hooked up with R. Kelly?

Playing basketball! A mutual friend of R.’s invited me to play basketball with them. He had already told him about me, so I made some mix tapes. It didn’t happen right away, it took a couple months for R. Kelly to get back to me but it just went from there.

AE: My editor Trish Bendix loves his music so she’ll be jealous that you got to work together. I can actually hear a lot of similarities in your music with his, especially in the songs “Redlight” and “On Your Mouth.” Would you describe your music as baby-making music because it’s very sexual?

The thing about music — if you love music, you’ll eventually absorb the artist that you love and listen to and gain from. I don’t know if it’s baby-making music. I think my tonality comes across I guess a little more sexual. Of course, “On Your Mouth” is a little — [Laughs]

AE: Um, yeah, “Can I put my hips on your mouth?” I mean, come on!

Music is about experimenting and just seeing what happens. It’s an outlet, so at that particular time I might have been attracted to somebody’s mouth. [Laughs] I think it’s just about expressing. Everybody reads it different. To you, it may come across as sexual, to someone else it might come across as, “Ew, why is a girl singing to another girl?”

AE: Well I think it’s actually really important for the queer community. It’s not to say that your song is a queer song or that you make queer music. You make music that is universal but knowing in the back of our minds, as a gay listener, that you’re singing to another girl, makes it that much sexier. And it’s important.

Yeah, well I think the thing is, I want to be a regular artist. Nobody puts a stereotype on regular artists. So like if R. is singing, he could be singing to a guy. As far as we know he doesn’t. But it’s not about me being gay, it’s just about what I like and what I’m comfortable with.

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