Cary Nokey is an entertainer with quite the history. The words “Grammy-winning veteran producer” come to mind, but let’s focus on the present, shall we? After opening for the incomparable Adore Delano in NYC, Cary Nokey came to our attention as the musical act for RuPaul’s Drag Race Battle of the Seasons Tour. (Of course we’ll be there, darlings, and we’ll tell you all about it!)
Channeling the synth-saturated sound of the ’80s while murdering the piano like a punked-out Elton John (all with enough glitter and glam to make him right at home with our favorite queens on stage), he’s ready to bust open the doors to his next chapter. Have a look and listen to his single, American Dream, and see why we were blown away. Then stick around for our interview with the visionary performer himself.
Cary Nokey was born out of internal survival instinct. One that lived and breathed from it’s own composition of creative oxygen, if you will. It was the end of a chapter for Rob Fusari. I fought to hold on for so long believing that there was another chapter to that story. But it was never going to happen. It’s only when I realized I was dying that in fact I was able to be born into something greater. Like an infant from a womb who does not want to leave the warmth and comfort of thy mothers body. So did I feel a same clinging . When we hold on too tight, too tight to anything in life, that is when we constrict the veins to a new horizon and new lifeline, a new chapter. Rob Fusari held on. Cary Nokey pried his fingers from the wheel and whispered, “It’s ok to go.”
Has Cary always been a part of you?
When I look at Cary Nokey from the front end of it all, I only now realize that it was in fact something that was in me the whole time but somehow I was able to satisfy its “thirst” by passing along all of its energy to other artists through my writing, producing and artist development.
It was only when I was not able to find that outlet for my art that Cary Nokey was born. From necessity of expression and a desire to never give up. When you love something so much there really is nothing of an earthly matter than can stop you from doing what you have to do. Cary Nokey was clearly one of those moments in my life. It changed everything. It saved me. Most importantly I think it saved me from …ME.
As a producer, you’ve been vocal about your feelings about autotune and a lack of authenticity in pop music. How does that affect how you approach writing for Cary Nokey?
The Cary Nokey sound is not tangible . Just when I think i have it figured out…it shifts gears. It exists on many planes all at the same time. 70’s, 80’s 90’s and the future. It lives in a very 1970’s world with the likes of artist like Bowie and Liberace. It embraces and collides with the 80’s world of the Cure and Tears for Fears. It also touches and pulls from the 90’s legends like Nirvana and U2 and then ends up somewhere in a cyber fast food restaurant in the sky drinking a chocolate milkshake with Elvis Presley’s biogentic clone.
As far as my writing, I didn’t even realize that I was in fact writing songs that encompasses the world of self love and awareness til people began telling me that i inspire them. I didn’t understand it at first . I would ask myself “why” “how”. It started to become more transparent to me only recently. Through my journey and discovery it was sending some kind of message that boldly stated. There is another chapter of all our lives. It’s only when you think its over that the real journey begins. I have recently said the events in my life that I thought were sure to end me were the same events that greatness was born from. It’s those life changing events that I thought would kill me where the exact events that saved me life.
Your new single, ‘American Dream’, focuses on the exclusion and sense of limbo felt by the transgender community. How do you think the American Dream different for trans* and non-binary people?
The message of American Dream is centered around the fact that in one way or another we are all tied to the idea that we can all possess the “American Dream”. But the fact of the matter is that the American Dream has become only that …A dream, an untouchable world , a utopia of sorts. The reality of work hard, follow the rules, pay your taxes and “ask not what your country has done for you but what you can do for your country” has fallen into the abyss. The lyrics speaks of a young girl struggling with the direction her young life is taking. Although she wants the brass ring…It just seems way too out of reach for her . But the song is not about one girl; it is about one generation, or maybe two generations. In a similar approach to other lyrics I write…The girl in the story is me. I’m your American girl , we are all American girls. The American dream is beyond money and material possession but rather about some level of comfort in a culture that has made you a slave to the system.
I cast transsexuals in the video for a few different reasons. I grew up as the daughter my mother never had. My mother was very much into fashion and beauty . She wanted a daughter to pass that down to , so I was it. Transsexuals in general represent beauty in a whole different way then anyone else. For the most part they are meticulous and soft when it comes to how they present and care for themselves and others. In the American Dream video they all represent my mother and the different sides of her personality inside of the fine line we walked as mother son or mother daughter. I love the “Be who you are” element that transexuals possess. Its confidence taken to a place that most can only dream of obtaining . That is their gift . They represent the whole idea that the American dream is something in you . It’s something that is there already . You just have to find the internal vehicle that gets you to that place in you. Like the transsexuals who do it because they have to . Whatever that is for you. The moment you find your “ I have to” Then life begins again.
What inspired the visual story told in the video for ‘American Dream’?
The 8 ball is a very significant visual in the video… it represents the passed down female element that my mother as a glamour queen was providing as food for my soul. We watch our parents closely and often wind up more like them then we know. How could it be any other way. So many crucial years under their wing. You do as they do . The 8 ball is basically her passing down the woman in her. My father died at a relativity early age so it fell more on my mother to teach me how to be a “lady.”
What do you want your audience to walk away from your show feeling?
The audience doesn’t even realize how much they are dictating the energy of a show. They think sometimes they are just watching, but it’s not quite that way with Cary Nokey. They have to be in the show with me or it doesn’t work.
It’s much like driving a car. Yes. there may be one driver but we are all in it together. When that car is traveling at 100 mph. We are all traveling at 100 mph. We feel the same wind, the same danger, the same force of gravity. That is the Cary Nokey show.
What does the future hold for Cary NoKey?
I can only hope the future brings more self discovery and more self love. I have felt the seeds of that kind of love and it continues to grow in me and for me. I want to pass that along to people I come in contact with. Dreams do come true. There is always hope and a chance for something magical. I feel I am living proof of that. It was never about money or Grammys it was about Life . It was about breathing in and breathing out and then saying…HOLY SHIT, I am alive!
If you want to see Cary NoKey live, tickets are still available for the RuPaul’s Drag Race Battle of the Seasons, 2015 Condragulations Tour.