If you’ve already heard of Hi Fashion then you don’t need my convincing of their attributes. This band is freaking crazy, a duet consisting of the moustached Scorpio Rick Gradone and his fiery Virgo accomplice, Jen DM. The two of them bring together an excellent combination of sexy runway music and drag pop. Their tongue in cheek humour is like a bitchy Die Antwoord or a crazier Lady Gaga.
I met with this odd pair for a lovely chat about everything from their first meeting to their band’s three different names and crazy clothes.
On how they met.
Jen: It was in the not so distant past when we were both in New York. I was out with some friends dancing and Rick was there with his friends. He came over and he started to chat me up and instantly I was like “Oh my gawd, he thinks I’m a guy.” He was totally hitting on me. I was like “So umm… I am not a guy but… thank you… just so you know!” Then we had a huge chuckle about it. It was a dark bar and I also at the time was really going for a male look.
Rick: She can be very male when she wants to be. When she wants to be serving penis she can serve penis, let me put it that way.
J: That is what I was exuding and that is what he was picking up. So we had an awesome laugh and we still thought each other were awesome.
R: And the rest is gay history.
On their ever changing name.
J: Hi Fashion $5.99 is actually the name of a clothing apparel store in Los Angeles. It’s pretty spectacular, it’s spelt exactly the same way. Basically, the contents of the store look like they fell off the back of a truck. Everything is way marked down. So we just kind of loved the idea that a store called themselves Hi Fashion $5.99, and after considering several other name options we went with that one. Because it was funny to us! It was totally tongue in cheek.
R: So there was a moment when we had this possibility of a lawyer who never ended up being our lawyer. He talked to us about the idea that we could have problems because they we were called Hi Fashion $5.99. So we went to an astrologer and the astrologer said that we should change the number to $9.99 because 999 was a really beneficial number for us. So the prices went up! Then we talked to a manager friend of ours and he said, in a kind of moment which we like to think of as our Facebook Moment from the Facebook movie, he turned around and in slow motion said “Oh yeah? Drop the numbers and leave it Hi Fashion.” And suddenly bells went off and we knew this is what it was supposed to be!
On their wild costumes.
R: We make, like, all of them.
J: There has probably been like three costumes that have been in music videos that we didn’t make. Am I saying three? There was probably like one!
R: For the most part we make everything ourselves, yeah. It’s very difficult to find a parachute dress that’s twelve feet high. So you have a tendency to not be able to buy it off the rack. I work in fashion when I am not being a rockstar so it’s always been that we will like, buy Italian Vogue on the fly even if we don’t have any money. The clothes have a lot to do with saying what we want to say.
On who they make music for.
J: When we sit down to write we really don’t have in mind that we want to hit the ‘X’ group at all. When we come together and we collaborate on a song we are just focused on making each other laugh.
R: The compliment of laughing and dancing is always something primary. If both of us laugh and dance then we know we are in the direction of the things that we want to do. We have a lot of faith that people like to laugh and dance.
On their growing drag following.
R: I remember the first time there was someone redoing “AMAZING.” She looked totally amazing and was trashed and didn’t know any of the words. Both of us cried, we were like “Oh my gawd. We totally made it.” I feel like having a drag queen sing your music at a club is like the highest form of homage. When it actually started hitting the RuPaul’s Drag Race crowd, and when Raja started doing it and Jinx Monsoon, it was absolutely unbelievable that that would happen. But I have to say that person in Canada, in Toronto, doing that first rendition of “AMAZING” was like about as incredible as it gets. I feel like when a drag queen commits to doing your song they are putting so much energy into it because they love it. It is the highest compliment when drag queens want to perform our music.
On what they do to get pumped up.
R: Our makeup!
J: I do stuff to chill the fuck out. I am very happy to be on stage, and the bigger the crowd the better, but when we first started I needed to be attached to Rick. I was like “My adrenaline is off the charts right now and I need to at least make eye contact with you to know that you are on the ground also. To know that we both have our feet on the ground.” It’s like a party, it’s like we are getting ready to go out and then, “Oh we are going on stage.”
R: It’s like a party or a preschool. Well, it’s sort of both of them. Somebody is stealing somebody else’s shorts and it’s like being in kindergarten.
On what they have learned from each other.
J: I have learned so much from Rick. I don’t know if I can narrow down what the biggest thing is. I feel like I have learned how to really believe in myself and this project because of Rick. Like he’s relentlessly positive, and even when we are having a rough patch he just knows how to push through. He believes in what we are doing 100 percent. He gives me faith a lot of the time. It’s just really great to have a partner in crime. I get a lot of confidence and steam from Rick. Also what I have learned from Rick is to just try it! Try, you might fail, but try it regardless!
R: I was going to say, Jen has so much fire in her. Talking about astrology I am like a Chinese dog, so I feel like I can have a wildly outgoing personality but also a bit of a curmudgeon at the end of the day. I am a little bit like “Meehhhh. I will believe it when I see it.” Jen is not that person. Jen actually asks herself if she is having fun. That is something that I don’t remember to ask myself a lot of the time. It might seem silly but it is so insanely important. Jen definitely makes it a priority that she has fun in her life. I feel like I learn that from Jen all the time. Also, Jen jumps and I am cautious in a different way. Jen’s a jumper: If an amazing opportunity comes around and it doesn’t look even remotely possible, Jen says yes! She knows now that I will say “I don’t know,” and then if she waits a minute I will say “okay, okay, yes.” She used to try and convince me but now she just lets it sit for a second. She’s like “you are going to go through your process but yes is always the right answer” and I feel like yes is always Jen’s answer. That I am learning and I continue to learn all the time from her. Yes is always the right answer!
If you wanna keep track of all of their crazy antics you can follow them here.