- Stacy Lee
Not quite a year ago, Montreal jazz musician Peggy Hogan had some downtime after releasing a solo album. Idle hands are the devil's tools and Hua Li was born.
Using her Chinese name, Hua Li became Hogan's alter ego, the ultimate bad bitch/femcee who runs the party and has the best makeup. "Hua Li was almost a project in micromanagement, I wanted to see how much i could get done by myself," says Hogan. More recently, she's branched out, including other producers like Tech-zilla on her latest, The Bound Feat Pt. 1. While the production is mainstream quality--- clean, 808 beats back up Hua Li's vocals---the lyrical content is a bit more subversive. A recent tweet had Hua Li claiming she was "making the hip-hop community uncomfortable one queer video at a time," referencing her recent video for "Pinkett," featuring male pole dancers, voguing, lots of glitter and a fascinating "I Like Dick ;)" tattoo.
"I never meant for this to be a platform for my activism or my political belief but it ended up being that way," says Hogan. "One of the first promoters, Rough Diamond, focuses on queer hip-hop, and they put on a show for me. I'm queer identified and the community was there for me, it helped me focus the project. They made me feel at home.
"As a biracial woman, queer-identified, I can't help but be opposed to mainstream hip-hop, especially in Montreal here it's hetero male-dominated. I was against the structure anyway. It's hugely important to me personally to reclaim sexuality and throw that in alternative sexuality in people's faces."
But Hogan says good politics aren't enough, especially if no one wants to shake their ass. "The music comes first regardless of what it's about or what I'm saying, it needs to be of high quality."
Hua Li's dual identity also comes from her biracial background. Hogan says embodying her dualities plays into the project, and it's becoming increasingly difficult to define where Peggy Hogan stops and Hua Li begins. "Hua Li is taking over a little bit," Hogan says, laughing. "I blame all my audacious behaviour on her."