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Medusa's Michael Cignarale: 'I just want to be a big belting diva'

The co-founder of one of Shanghai's hottest monthly parties speaks on his debut album

Photograph: courtesy Medusa
It’s been five years since Medusa first graced Shanghai with its glittery hedonism. Now, the famous (rather, infamous) party’s reach has grown to the point where it has its own label, fronted by co-founder Michael Cignarale’s debut album Operatic Orgasm. Fresh off a nationwide tour of China this past fall, Cignarale dishes on the new release.

For those who haven’t been to a Medusa party before (or let’s say *experienced Medusa*), what’s it all about?
'Medusa is a dance party based in Shanghai. You can say it’s a queer party, but there really is no pretense to coming, dancing and letting your inner queen take you over.'

Has Operatic Orgasm been a long time coming?
'Yes, we started this project maybe about two years ago, but the idea of creating Medusa Records has been in Medusa's DNA since the beginning. Mau Mau and I just needed the little push to go out and do it.'

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Photograph: 猫十一 , courtesy Medusa (Operatic Orgasm tour, Elevator)

Your vocals are sort of the soul of your sound. Where do you get your inspiration from?
'I just want to be a big belting diva, lol. So, Martha Wash, Barbara Tucker and Jocelyn Brown are huge inspirations on how to sing uplifting, gospel vocals. It’s something I’m always going for. Truth be, I’m all for capturing a raw emotion. Most of my vocals are written and performed in one take, so you can really hear what I’m feeling. And guess what? It’s a low boiling sexual fantasy. I love 80’s singers like Michael Hutchence and DAF.'

There’s ten tracks all up, have you got a favourite?
'They’re all my children, and just like most parents I love some more than others. ‘Goodnight’ is the most personal of the songs – I felt I was able to tell a story and share a moment in my life. Also, ‘Poppers’ as a song is so much fun to perform. ‘Don’t Let Me Go’, though, is one I re-listen to over and over again.'

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Photograph: courtesy Medusa (Michael Cignarale)

What do you hope people will feel after they listen?
'Horny, kind of fierce and ready to dance. Go put on some makeup and feel your fantasy.'

The album coincides with the launch of Medusa's new label, Medusa Records. Can you tell you us about that?
'This is our platform for launching the House of Medusa and it really connects all the talent that’s been coming out of our party with the rest of the world. I was the first queen to come out of this, but there is so much talent in our little house. Our next artist to be featured is our resident Queen and all-around piece of leopard print covered trash, Enema Stone. It turns out this gurl can sing.'

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Photograph: 猫十一 , courtesy Medusa (Operatic Orgasm tour, Elevator)

If you could throw a Medusa party in one other club in the world, what it would be?
'It’s a tie. Panorama Bar is a no brainer and I’d love to bring Medusa to Battle Hymn in NYC.'

Lastly, I know you’ve barely had a chance to sit down (or sleep) since the release. But, what’s the next move?
There is a lot coming this year. Expect more wearables and fun brand collaborations. Also, Club Venus is coming back. Hold on gurl.

Hear Michael Cignarale's debut album on QQ, Youtube, Spotify, Beatport and Bandcamp.

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