Lagoona Bloo is breaking drag boundaries on ‘Underwater Bubble Pop’

Lagoona Bloo is a self-proclaimed mermaid pop star, and on her debut album Underwater Bubble Pop, she proves she’s more than worthy of the title. The iconic New York City drag queen is known for her impressive vocals, and with endlessly danceable, shamelessly bubblegum tracks like “Elle Woods” and “Tunnel Vision,” she’s using them to full effect.

INTO sat down with Lagoona to learn how her Mexican American heritage influenced the new album, why there’s so much more to drag than reality TV, and how a heartfelt moment from 10 years ago is coming full circle.

Album artwork for Underwater Bubble Pop. Courtesy of Press Here Publicity.

Hey, Lagoona! Congrats on releasing your debut album. It’s chock-full of wonderful self-empowerment anthems — what inspired the message of the album?

I began writing music in the pandemic, and it was my first time ever writing. I had never written pop music before, but always wanted to. And before this album, I found that I was always writing about love that I wanted from somebody else, or love that I so desperately wanted to give someone but couldn’t receive. All my songs were about loving someone else or needing that.

2022 and 2023 were really hard for me. I went through a breakup, and I lost my dad, and some opportunities fell through for me. I kind of hit rock bottom, essentially. And so I took 2022 to heal, and in 2023, I was like, “I want to make a body of work that is all about loving myself.” Because all I sing about is wanting someone to love me, but what about me? Why can’t I love myself? Everybody says it. Everyone says the key to life is loving yourself, even RuPaul, an icon, she’s like, “If you can’t love yourself, how can you love anybody else?” But nobody talks about how difficult that actually is to do.

When we sat down to write this album, I was gagged at how difficult it was for me to actually write things that were lovely and beautiful about myself. It’s really interesting because when we finished the album, I remember being so elated and so proud. But it wasn’t until a year after where some of the songs really started to hit home for me. The first track, “TMFO” — “the motherf*cking one” — it starts off the album because it became a mantra for me. Like, I was telling all of my audiences to repeat after me: “I am the motherf*cking one.” Because I realized that we create our own realities, and if we walk around the earth and we tell ourselves that we’re nothing, that’s what we’re gonna be.

So yeah, this album is a pop, dance, bubblegum, ear candy album that is all about feeling good. There’s so much sad music on the market, and I know we all relate to grief. But I was like, “I want to create music that is uplifting, and makes you feel good.” So I’m so glad that that’s what you took away from it because that was exactly my intention.

The album’s sound is reminiscent of early 2000s dance pop, which is, of course, fabulous. What’s your relationship to that genre, and who are your favorite divas of that era?

My three pop divas growing up were definitely Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, and Shakira. They were my holy trinity. 

One reason why I wanted to make a body of work like this and why I wanted to make a dance pop album was because I grew up in the South. I grew up in a Mexican American home in the evangelical Christian church, and my parents were very involved in the church. So I kind of grew up hating everything about myself: I was always shamed for liking pop music, I was shamed for being feminine, I was shamed for liking dolls, I was shamed for loving The Little Mermaid and loving fairy tales and princesses — all my interests, I was always being told, “You can’t do that. That’s not for you. That’s wrong.” 

And so, pop music became this escape for me, because I could sing into my hairbrush in my mirror to Britney Spears with my little CD player, or I could practice my Christina Aguilera riffs in my room by myself, or I could shake my hips like Shakira in my room by myself. Pop music became a haven for me. 

I also wanted to highlight the fact that you have three Spanish language tracks on the album: “Burbuja Pop,” which is a translation of the title track, a Spanglish version of “Toys,” and the original track “La Sirena.” What influenced your decision to have Spanish tracks on the album?

What’s crazy is that a lot of people don’t know that I’m Mexican American. Yo hablo español — I’m fluent in Spanish. Actually, Spanish was my first language. Music was such an important part of my growing up. As a family, even though we weren’t really listening to secular music, even though it was all very religious music, we were always filled with music. So as part of this debut, I was like, I have to sing in Spanish, because it’s such a huge part of me.

Let’s talk about your music career overall. Lots of people assume drag artists only do one very specific thing — lip syncing in clubs — but you’re carving your own path and making a name for yourself as a mainstream pop star. How does it feel to be branching out and proving what drag artists can achieve?

One of my goals as an artist is to show people that drag artists are capable of so much. And I feel like the industry pushes us into a box. I have been to so many shows where I announce that I’m going to sing a song and the audience groans, because there’s this stigma that drag queens don’t sing or drag queens only make a certain type of music. And it is invigorating, and it is challenging. But it’s also so worth the obstacle, because I love surprising people. I love it when people see me sing for the first time, and they’re like, [gasp]. They’re like, “Oh, my god, you can really sing!” And I’m like, “Yes, I can! And I will.” 

I think as drag artists, there is a beautiful platform — RuPaul’s Drag Race — where there is this kind of cut-and-print path, and a lot of art drag artists feel like that’s what you need to be successful. And as much as I would love to have that opportunity, the universe hasn’t granted me that opportunity. So I’ve learned, if that door isn’t opening for me, I will keep knocking, but I’m not going to stop. I’m gonna make my own path. 

Now, I’m really grateful. Because now I’ve found music, and it’s even a gag for me to hear you say like, “Oh, you’re making a name for yourself as a pop artist.” But I am! And it’s been hard. It’s been really hard to stay scrappy, and to stay hungry, and to keep going in the face of rejection and insecurity and sometimes a need for validation. But it’s been so rewarding, and I’m so, so proud of myself. And I think that my parents would be really proud of me, because I’ve come so far and been able to do it by myself, which is so wild. So I just hope to inspire others, because I come from nothing and I come from a really hard life and I just didn’t stop. So thank you. It’s been really cool.

Of course! It’s so lovely to hear you talking yourself up, because you absolutely deserve to.

Thank you! Sometimes I have to pinch myself, because I never would have imagined 10 years ago that I would be doing this. 

I had a really amazing moment a few weeks ago. It was the 10-year anniversary of my mom passing. She was really hard on me my whole life, and we didn’t get along a lot and we had a lot of issues. However, when she was leaving, we had a really beautiful conversation. She apologized to me and she said, “Oh my god, I really made a mistake with you, and I didn’t love you the way I should have.” She goes, “I tried to stop you from being everything that you are. I messed up, and I’m so sorry. I love you, and you are so perfectly and beautifully made the way you are.” 

Then she said — oh my god, I’ll never forget, because I was sitting right next to her face — and she said, “David, my dream is that you go and you make all your dreams come true.”

She left a few weeks later, and I moved to New York after that. And now, 10 years later, I was doing DRAG: The Musical in Los Angeles a few weeks ago, and it was the 10-year anniversary of her passing — and I started weeping. But it wasn’t grief: it was this overwhelming sense of peace. Like, oh my god, I did it. I am living my dream. I’m a full-time performing drag artist making pop music, performing here in L.A. and in New York, and my album comes out next month, and I have a Pride single after that. 

It was like this shield was removed from my eyes. I have so much to be grateful for, and it’s been so beautiful. It’s so beautiful for me to be able to reflect because I, for so long, held on to so much pain and grief and jealousy of others. And now I look back and I’m like, it was worth the journey and the growth and the lessons. That’s why I want to bleed into the world. I want to be like a drop of blue dye that just spreads love and joy and positivity and self-reflection and worth, because we all deserve to feel that way, but the world tells us that we don’t. So that’s what I’m here to do. ◆

Underwater Bubble Pop is now streaming on all platforms. Check out the music video for “Burbuja Pop” below.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Featured image by Mati Gelman. Courtesy of Press Here Publicity.

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