Big Freedia Lays Out The Basics Of Bounce Born Freddie Ross, Freedia is one of the biggest stars of New Orleans' hard-dancing, bass-pounding and sometimes gender-bending bounce music scene.
NPR logo

Big Freedia Lays Out The Basics Of Bounce

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Big Freedia Lays Out The Basics Of Bounce

Big Freedia Lays Out The Basics Of Bounce

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript


Hey, thanks for sticking with us. It's WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Robert Smith. And now, time for some music.


BIG FREEDIA: (Singing) Big Freedia coming one more time. Big Freedia coming one more time.

My name is Big Freedia the Queen Diva. I'm a bounce artist, straight born and raised from New Orleans, Louisiana, and I love what I do.

SMITH: And what she does is to roll into a town, set up at a club and drive the audience wild. You can't just listen to Big Freedia. You have to be there to experience Big Freedia.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #1: Just get out there and get sweaty, get dirty, dance.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Bootylicious, shaking everything, everywhere, every body.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #2: We are older group. That's what we call working your body.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: I did what was called a handstand. What you do is get on your hands, you put both legs in the air, you just shake until you fall down.

SMITH: There has been so much discussion here at WEEKEND ALL THINGS CONSIDERED about how to refer exactly to the thing which you shake. And we know we're a family friendly program, so there's many different words we can use.

FREEDIA: I would say booty shaking.


FREEDIA: How that sound?

SMITH: Booty? Behind? Or does that, like, does that make me sound like a square?

FREEDIA: Yeah, definitely.


SMITH: You're looking at me like this is the worst thing ever.

FREEDIA: You know, you're like, you come shake your booty, come and shake your rump shaker.

SMITH: All right. OK. Now, that we've settled the matter of terminology, let me tell you a little about Big Freedia. Big Freedia's name during the day is Freddie Ross when he is an interior decorator. But at night, he is a she - Big Freedia. And that's how she arrived at our studios - six-foot-something, hair down her back, earrings. Big Freedia is the queen of bounce music.

Describe to me bounce music. It's more than just the sound, right?

FREEDIA: My definition of bounce music is up tempo, heavy bass, call-and-respond type music. It's strictly in - born and raised out in New Orleans, and they love it. Like, they listen to it morning, noon and night.


FREEDIA: (Rapping) Now, now, now, now, now, now...

It has a lot to do with dancing, as well, call and respond, you know, where if I will say, (singing) I got that gin in my system. And then the crowd would say, (singing) somebody going to be my victim.


FREEDIA: (Singing) I got that gin in my system. Somebody gonna be my victim. I got that gin in my system. Somebody gonna be my victim...

SMITH: Now, these lyrics are pretty simple, but that's intentional, right?

FREEDIA: Oh, yeah, definitely.

SMITH: Why? Because you want to leave room for the bass?

FREEDIA: You've got to leave room for the bass and the boom and the knock and just for people to be able to just free themselves and express themselves through dance.


FREEDIA: (Rapping) Do you enjoy your baby daddy? Shake it like your baby daddy. Want it, want it like your baby daddy, shake it like your baby daddy. Go pow. These songs never beat...

You know, lately, they say Big Freedia has the best dance party going on around the world right now. So I definitely want to leave that open for a lot of dancing.

SMITH: So describe to me the history of bounce music.

FREEDIA: It started about two decades ago, two DJs out of New Orleans. And they started, like, colliding these two beats, which was the Triggerman beat by the Showboys and the Brown beat. And the Triggerman is that (humming) dum-du-dum-dum.


THE SHOWBOYS: The rhymes you are about to hear are true. MC's names have been changed to protect the innocent.

FREEDIA: When you would hear that come on, everybody in the whole club just rocking and jumping. I would be at middle school dances, high school dances, and that would be something that was very epic to the sound when they would put on The Showboys or there would be Brown beat. And we used those beats in just a lot of our music. And we know how to flip it a million and one ways. And the producers, they know what to do with it to make the crowd jump.


FREEDIA: (Rapping) This is Big Freedia, the Queen Diva, you best'a believe her. And I wanna thank all my fans and all my haters for making me famous.

About 1998, my best friend, Katey Red, was the first transsexual male to come out with bounce music. And I background Katey for about two years. And then that's when the game totally switched when me and Katey jumped in it. And, yeah, we messed their heads up big time.

SMITH: Wait. Why? Why? New Orleans has a rich gay culture. Why was it unusual for two gay guys to be doing bounce music?

FREEDIA: Because it was a new music, you know, a new sound. And New Orleans does have a very rich gay culture, but that wasn't something new for everybody.


FREEDIA: (Rapping)(Unintelligible)

SMITH: When you're up on stage, when you do the bounce music, there is a particular kind of dance that goes with this. Describe the scene for me. Like, what does it look like?

FREEDIA: Well, you have a lot of butt shaking going on, you know, definitely onstage. You have guys on stage doing the shoulder hustle where you're like kind of moving your shoulders and you're, like, moving them side to side and you're making them jump up and down, and you're moving your arms with it and your legs. That's kind of what the fellows do.

The girls kind of, you know, hands on the floor, butt in the air, bent over, shaking up and down like a basketball, you know, kind of round in a circle like a mixing bowl, you know? So they do it a little different. They swivel their bodies a little different like a snake while they're dancing. We go in all different kind of ways. Everyone is unique to the way that they dance in New Orleans.

SMITH: You actually bring dancers with you. Like, you say this is how it's supposed to look.

FREEDIA: Right. I have my divas, and I have my dudes. That's the Big Freedia team. And we definitely have to show them exactly how it go. And, you know, in some of the cities that I go to, I offer my dance class that I, you know, do before the show. The video is coming soon, too, workout video.

SMITH: There's a workout video, or this is the way you have to prepare to go to your show?

FREEDIA: Well, there's going to be a workout video, too, because a lot of people use it at home to work out. This definitely will get you moving.


SMITH: Now - not to get personal here - but, like, I don't have much of a butt.

FREEDIA: Everyone has a butt. No matter what size it is, you can work it.


FREEDIA: That's my motto.

SMITH: No, you think anyone can do it.

FREEDIA: Anyone can do it. I saw the skinniest girl to the biggest girl do it, as well as the guy. And everyone can do it.

SMITH: You know, when I talk to people about Big Freedia, about yourself, they say: Oh, you have to see her live. It's all about seeing her live, which is great, but where does the music go from here? Do you have to convert people, sort of, one fan at a time, one show at a time?

FREEDIA: I don't say it'd be one at a time, because people who come to the show, they all bring their friends, and they come in numbers. So I'm picking up a dozen of fans at a time, yes.

SMITH: But that's a lot of hard work rather than shipping out CDs to every radio station in the country.

FREEDIA: That's why I'm the hardest working girl in bounce music.

SMITH: I don't deny it. Big Freedia the Queen Diva is on tour, coming to a town near you. She also has a documentary coming out about her life and a dance instruction DVD so you, too, can bounce in your own home.


SMITH: Thanks for coming in.

FREEDIA: Thanks for having me. Appreciate it.


SMITH: Very nicely done, and we didn't have use the terms caboose, tush or derriere or fanny. Would you use fanny?

FREEDIA: No. That's like a fanny pack. Why would I use fanny? They'd be having the fanny packs in the front. I wouldn't use fanny at all.

SMITH: Now, derriere. That's...


SMITH: You got the French thing with New Orleans? Like, derriere, maybe?


That's Beyonce, though, derriere.

SMITH: Oh, Beyonce owns derriere.

FREEDIA: Yeah. Yes.

SMITH: She'll sue you if you use that.

FREEDIA: Exactly.


FREEDIA: (Rapping) Boom, she taking in. Boom, she marveling in. Boom, she wiggle in. Boom, she's all here. Here, rock, rock, rock, rock, rock, rock, rock, rock, rock, rock. Queen Diva. You are ready now.

Copyright © 2013 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.