Drab Majesty Is L.A.'s Most Glamorous Freak
Deb Demure (Drab Majesty) in Chinatown
Photo: Gregory Burns
At six feet, four inches, Hollywood native Andrew Clinco aka Deb Demure towers over most people. When we meet, he's wearing all black, with a reflective bolo tie in the shape of a "V," which he says symbolizes feminism.
As Drab Majesty, his on-stage persona, he looks like a more glamorous version of Forsberg's Christ the Clown. It's part of his gender-bending appearance, which "is not typical drag," he says. "It's a hybrid performance state designed to rid the audience's expectations of what it means to be a male or female performer." In a sense, he's the musical equivalent of a magician, hypnotizing his audience to look beyond his gender and become mesmerized by his brooding songcraft.
Drab Majesty's debut EP, Unarian Dances (Lolipop Records), originally released two years ago and now reissued on cassette, is a monolithic recording of five tracks that oscillate between hazy Slowdive shoegaze and danceable New Order pop. Emma Ruth Rundle of the Nocturnes provides harmonies on "In a Hotel (Somewhere)" and "Wrecking Ball," but other than that, it's just Demure, his various instruments, and a space-age pastiche of everything from Ziggy Stardust to Genesis P-Orridge.
Demure nurtured his vision for Drab Majesty at Otis College of Art and Design under the tutelage of a professor who, at the time, was in the seventh phase of gender reassignment. "He taught me to be comfortable in my own skin," says Demure.
Growing up in Hollywood, he discovered the city's "half-assed transsexuals and gender fuckers" that ultimately birthed Drab Majesty. As expected, he embraces the pomp of his glittery predecessors on the Sunset Strip.
"Seeing a live concert needs to be like attending a church service," he says.
Photo: Gregory Burns
Although Demure currently studies the sacred Tarot at the Builders of the Adytum — a local school based in Western occult traditions — church-going is in his blood. He grew up Catholic, attending the Church of the Good Shepherd in Beverly Hills with his grandmother. It's an experience that helped shape his vocal style.
"The reverb of the church when the priest would speak heavily influenced my vocal treatment," he says. Demure's vocals straddle between the bass-baritone of Ian Curtis and his own ghostly falsetto. Live, he's supported only by a drum machine, which he carries in a suitcase, and his guitar, which provides the ethereal core of his gothic sound.
He's unlike any other artist in the scene today. In many ways, he's an anomaly amidst the current glut of "lo-fi" garage rockers that crowd the city's music venues. He belongs to a difference age, when the Sunset Strip was home to performers that embraced the city's old Hollywood roots to the point of bombastic excess. Drab Majesty shines bright as a result.
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