Photo Credit: Dhamiril Nunez / Makeup Artist: Rajah White
This conversation took place over a number of weeks in April & May 2020.
So, who are you and where are you?
I am Kweeng Doll and I live Boston
And how has the pandemic affected your art life and schedule, your work life, and your life and your community in general?
The COVID- 19 pandemic has affected my art life in so many ways. I have loss tons of bookings, some cancelled and postponed to later dates. It’s causing things to overlap. Financially this is a struggle because as a full time artist this is how I pay my bills. I mean Things have been pushed back till mid summer and we just entered spring. The hardest thing to understand with this pandemic is we don’t know when it will end so we can’t really plan anything. I was heading over to London with my team for a competition for pride London 2020 in early April which we were ready for and that was such a bummer for us. It’s a little bitter sweet for me because through this tough time in the world I can spend time with my loved ones more than I am a able too when I’m working. I’m also able to sit back and reflect on things and think about what I want to do in the future with my career. I’ve been writing some new music for my new project that’s suppose to drop in the summer! So far that’s been coming out shower great and can’t wait to share it with you all! It’s a minor set back for me but a major come back is coming once we are out of this. This has taught me a few lessons, cherish the things and time you have with others., appreciate your home, food, clothes & basics. It’s unfortunate for people who don’t have homes or families who don’t have food to eat and they depend on school for their children to eat. I’ve also thought about the students who go to school and it feels like a get away because they are struggling at home due to domestic violence, rape etc things along those lines… I pray every night that we all get out of this situation. Most of all to protect ourselves we need to stay very clean, washing hands frequently, sanitizing, staying home. I’ve realize that people are taking this lightly until it hits home. I’ve spoken to someone who has lost someone from the corona virus and it’s tough to swallow. I’m not in a panic because I know that the lord himself is watching over me and protecting me. I just leave it all up to him and follow instructions that are told.
I’m sorry to hear about the cancelling of all of your events and your trip to London, but I’m glad your safe. It sounds like you have a good head on your shoulders about this whole situation. Have you heard about the Boston Artists Relief Fund? It seems like you’d certainly be eligible if you haven’t applied. I’ve been talking with a few folks about these times we’re going through and the uncertainty and ambiguity of when this will all end/get better, is what is weighing on all of us. It sounds like you have some good support to get through this though. Who are hunkered down with? And can you tell me about the competition you were supposed to go to in London (not to bring up a sore subject) and the new new project?
Yes I’ve applied for the relief fund! I think that is pretty cool because artist don’t have any way of making money right now. Musicians make majority of their money performing so I’m happy the city of Boston is getting to help us ! I have been hunkered down with my younger sister and my mother. My younger brother comes over on Fridays after work and stays the weekend with me. He works in health care so everyday he’s at work I’m pretty nervous. The competition in London was for their pride 2020 in June. I got picked to compete to be on the main stage. You have to go through many rounds, each round gets bigger as if it’s like American idol. I think it’s so cool. I’m pretty excited because I have fans over in the UK and going out there would’ve made me seen in a different part of the world. Keeping my fingers crossed that I can still make it to the postponed dates. I’m also auditioning for the tiny desk concert series & Netflix’s Rythm & Flow. Both companies have pushed back the audition deadlines to after quarantine so that way we are able to still get out videos in.
Cheers to your brother and all other health workers. They are the heroes right now. I hope you get to do all of these great sounding competitions and such, you’re name needs to to ascend! Were you going to be rapping or styling hair as part of these competitions or some combination of both?
Obviously everything is on pause around here at this point, but before the virus hit where were some of your favorite places to perform in the city?
What are you really looking to get back to in that regard once this ends, whenever that might be? And related-ly, what is missing for LGBTQIA+ performers and audience members in this city’s cultural landscape?
I was going to london to rap! Me my managers and 4 dancers. I don’t think I have a favorite place to perform because I perform at every place every time like it’s my last no matter the circumstances. I’m looking forward to getting back to rehearsals, performances. Just my crazy busy life! I miss it so much ! I feel like respect and opportunities are missing for my community. Often times we are overlooked for events because of who we are. Most promoters/ bookers don’t actually take a chance and listen to our music they just judge us so quickly because of our identity and or sexuality and say things like “they don’t fit the bill “ but what does that mean ? That’s why I try my best to break down boundaries and perform in any setting and crowd! I also feel like here in Boston queer artist aren’t taking that serious by people maybe because “hip hop/rap music is a hyper masculine straight dominate” genre ! Idk who gives a fuck 😂
Who gives a fuck indeed. “I perform at every place every time like it’s my last no matter the circumstances.” <— That’s what I’m talking about right there, and one of the keys to being a great performer if you ask me. Hip hop may be male dominated traditionally but you and many others have turned that UPSIDE DOWN here in the Boston area over the last bunch of years. I was asking about venues because I know there is a serious venue problem in this town. Small to mid-size venues just do not exist in the numbers necessary to properly support artists of your caliber and your peers. It saddens me and is one of my/our major causes that I hope to fix in part through our efforts in here @ the Hassle eventually (through the opening of our own performance space).
Have you/ are you thinking of jumping into the live streaming performance game? Also, I imagine the virus has shut down all your styling gigs, right? Are you able to collect unemployment for that?
Hey ! I’ve thought about it, I’m not that savvy yet with social media. I’m still understanding the works of it ! Creating great content and stuff! I did try it out by being a guest on someone else’s live, it was cool but not really my thing. I’m a in your face high energy kind of performer so I like it better live and not virtual. About two weeks ago I did do a Saturday night shake down : FUCK CORONA EDITION it went viral on Facebook ending the live with 3.7k views with only being on there for 40 minutes. My little brother, mom and I were sitting around and I said let’s try to do a shake down session on live to lift people’s spirits and it worked! They loved the ass shaking, bouncing, wiggles and swiggles. The rhythmic beats and the voices of the New Orleans legends! My styling gigs are coming in slow o have been just taking very minimum clientele which I need too due to my injuries from my car accident that happened back in December ! I’m planning to apply for unemployment this week!
Ha! That’s amazing. People’s spirits need lifting. I feel like we’re living in a haze, and I’m probably not the only one. Who were you dancing to, from New Orleans. I’m a big fan of a lot of classic NO performers from the worlds of soul and funk.
Good luck with unemployment. Obviously a lot of people filing right now. I’m feeling pretty lost hair-wise right not being able to go to my preferred barbers. Getting a little freaky up top. Not exactly the same, but I can only imagine that people who come to rely on you for the life of their hair are begging you to do their hair?
Yes ppl have been relying on me to do their hair and begging me! I did give in, I just take precautions as I work from home. Like wearing mask 😷 both I and the client, sanitizing things I also I did pass my exam for my new barbicide Covid 19 certification for beauty professionals! I wash my hands wear gloves I’m super sanitary through This.
And I know that you’re making them look good. Sounds like you have it down. I hope you can get back on stage sooner than later. I’ll keep my ears open for new music. Great talking with you!
Be safe & continue to be a doll 💕 I cant wait to see you guys soon ! New music I’ll be out in June!