Amid a pandemic and shelter-in-place orders when so many creative folks had trouble accessing their ability to make art, Victory Rhyder, a self-described "gender-fluid gay Asian drag queen" made a fierce, celebratory visual album, Road to Victory, during the lockdown. Below, Victory describes the process of making the album and shares all six videos on the subsequent slides with a description of each song and some of the lyrics. Enjoy Victory's album below:
Making a visual album was a symbol of empowerment for me. It’s been almost a decade of creating music, and this is the biggest project I’ve ever worked on. I just hit my early 30s, and this is me telling myself and the world that you’re never too old to have a comeback. You’re never too old to pursue your dreams in the most authentic way possible. Doing music in drag felt right. It represents embracing my identity and my community. It represents unapologetically being myself. ... And that’s why Victory Rhyder is such a vixen when you see her perform.
With mortality and fear constantly shoved in our faces since the pandemic started, I felt like I needed to complete this visual album before I die … and that people needed to see it. I felt I had so much more creativity to give the world than what my old day job allowed me to do, so I started the process of the visual album to remind myself of who I was and what I enjoyed doing in life. Then once I lost my job to COVID and didn’t know what to do with myself, completing the visual album made me feel like myself again. The Road to Victory was the most amazing, stressful yet rewarding thing I’ve ever done. It ultimately reignited my passion for music.
I was losing a lot in life. Working as a creative director was not as fulfilling as I had imagined, and my love life was nonexistent. I wanted to start winning in life, so I called myself Victory … and Rhyder because when life fucks you hard, just keep riding it to the top, baby!
Ten years ago we did not have the technology or the platform to make amazing music videos like we do today. With accessible marketplaces for beats, affordable high-quality gear, a more streamlined technology process, and a fire for creativity, I felt like it was time to do something spectacular — make music like I never have before. Just come swinging right out the gate with a visual album, a strong body of work lyrically, musically, and visually that will show people the kind of artist I am.
I wrote the songs and recorded them in my home studio. Nathan Daniel Music mixed the songs. I pulled together my own video equipment and lewks for the music videos, did my own makeup on set, and filmed with my favorite photographer and filmmaker, John Skalicky, then edited the video back at home.
My album talks about being the gay outcast and growing up and truly blossoming. It talks about the struggles of finding love in a world where hookup culture is the norm and talks about the resilience of being screwed over by people you trusted and coming back 10 times stronger.
My music videos are in-your-face and clever with a bit of humor and also a big middle finger to society’s norms.
If you have everything in your ability to make something cool happen, why not do it? I don’t listen to opinions of noncreators telling me that I can’t make a visual album because I’m not Beyoncé … I come with a passion for creativity, an education in film and sound engineering, two years of experience working as a creative director, a strong sense of who I am as an individual, and a love for the arts. I don’t need permission to be happy. I do what I want when I’m alive. I grab life by the balls and ride.
This song is possibly the most meaningful song on the visual album, discussing my childhood and reclaiming my time as a confused, quiet, gay kid with no friends. Sometimes this song brings tears to my eyes.
“Done begging like a bitch, I’m a chooser … If I were a hot girl, you’d be like damn … sorry but I stole your man. I’m hotter than the rest of my fam. Now everybody’s trying to be my friend. OK, damn … all the playboys wanna be my man. Feels nice to always have the upper hand. Busy doing things nobody else can. Uh-huh.”
This song is a love letter to all the fuck boys of the world who will literally say anything it takes to get with me and ghost me once they get the goods.
“Can’t come over to my house if I don’t know what you’re about. Not a blow doll you can call when you’re just tryna rub one out.”
This song is a reflection of how difficult it still is to find love when you’re a gender-fluid gay Asian drag queen. I’m either too feminine or too masculine for most guys, or most guys are too embarrassed to be seen with me or introduce me to their friends and family.
“Now you’re barely texting after all that you said. Sent that two days ago … still left unread. Hashtag guess I’ll be single for life. Damn, what went wrong … I wanted to be your wife … Guess that’s just called life.”
This song is for those who struggle to find love and end up resorting to hookup culture to fill the void in their lives. It’s about having sex with the desire to make love.
“Tried to boo one up, but now I don’t even want to mingle. I’m waiting on his eyes to give me the signal. He’s stroking the pipe. Looks like a can of Pringles. Cus I don’t care if you feel like a piece of meat. I got my needs, boy. Just tell me when and I’ll get down on my knees. Right now’s as good as ever. The quicker we get this over with the better. Right now I gotta tend my needs.”
The message of this song is if you’re going to be a fuck boy, know your place.
“I don’t want it in my mouth. I don’t want it in my butt. I don’t want it on my chest, bitch, I’m just tryna bust a nut. I don’t want it on my face. Stay in place, you piece of trade. Throwing ass not throwing shade. This ain’t a meal, it's just a taste.”
People bite. People are so nice and then snap at you without a moment’s notice, not because of you but because something about you triggered them, and they feel you won’t push back. I’m a victim of being too nice. This song is an anthem for the girls and the gays to say that we have the ability to fight back. “You either die a bitch or you live long enough to see yourself becoming THAT BITCH."
“I might look cute, but I fuck a bitch up. Make my own money, so I spend a couple bucks. Keep a straight face when I crack a bitch up cus her man be choking tryna swallow deez nuts. I don’t fuck with these bitches cus they’re two-faced. I’m in a mansion eating souffle. Now I’m laughing to the bank cus I’m too paid. Getting so much ass I need two plates.”