Erika Moul, AKA "Baby Gaga" has over 35 Million views on YouTube, performed at hundreds of festivals and taken Vegas by storm performing at Planet Hollywood, the Wynn and The Palms to name just a few. We chatted with Erika to find out what life is like as one of America's top Lady Gaga Tribute Artists.
Oh man, where DID it all start? I’m sure my family would love to answer this one. Well, I started performing in middle/high school, in the musicals and singing the national anthem for sporting events. Honestly anything that would completely terrify me. I actually grew up having stage fright, but felt drawn to the rush of being onstage. Theatre and art brought out the best and sometimes even the negative in me, but it helped me grow quickly in such honest ways. I wanted to overcome my fears and ultimately just make people laugh. We’re really all the same with different levels of intensity, so it was a just a matter of being... being as much of myself (or NOT myself) as I could be for others to see and learn. In college, I studied theatre/acting in a specialized program at Michigan State University. This is where I learned SO much from my professors and fellow students. I thought I sucked at singing, but my professor once said something like “Not every character can sing perfectly, but your job is to make it REAL.” This is something that I still say to myself before going out on stage. My class and I realized we needed to find creative ways to make money for an opportunity to have a showcase in NYC. So, a couple of my friends and I decided to hit up the local gay bar and produce a cabaret type show. It was an awesome way to raise awareness of the arts and also gain experience. One night, I decided to impersonate/sing as Lady Gaga and it ended up being a huge success! Totally unexpected, but soon everyone was calling me “Baby Gaga” and the doors started opening! I think most people probably thought I was a joke, but I took it very VERY seriously. You know, because I was a serious actress, haha. Mostly, I felt an undeniable connection to her music, specifically her lyrics, they were sometimes my inner monologue. Listen to ‘Hair,' her live version, it’ll take you back.
Whew, I can answer this RIGHT away! The biggest obstacle I’ve faced is being satisfied with my work and then keeping it to myself. I’m my BIGGEST critic, most artists are, but portraying such a HUGELY glamorized known pop star, it’s pretty daunting having giant heels to fill, 9” literally. It’s as if the audience is sitting there, arms crossed, saying PROVE IT. I am almost constantly trying to outdo my previous performances, which can get time-consuming, and sometimes funny. I have gotten very specific with my work, as I don’t want to necessarily right out copy Lady Gaga, rather I want to bring her to LIFE through my work. I’m my own artist! So, I spend hours reworking and tweaking her character and getting really honest with myself as a performer. There’s lots of times I get frustrated and it’s an ever-evolving intimate process which has lasted over 10+ years. I would call myself a fan, but mostly a critic of her work, I have to be! I’ve gained such an appreciation for her dedication and craftsmanship. I have made HUGE improvements throughout my career, but also learned to keep those trade secrets to myself. I’ve had a lot of “copy cats” of even MY own tribute work (which is astounding to me) so I’ve learned to keep my best work off the internet. I guess you could say in my own way, I’ve become a Mother Monster in the tribute industry, so knowing I’ve challenged others to better themselves is pretty awesome! I wouldn’t want Lady Gaga to feel like I’ve robbed her work for my own, or feel like a money making gimmick, so I focus my intentions on how to show her in the best light to others, and share her message of love freedom and acceptance.
So many! I could probably categorize them. Firstly, I pray/meditate, a lot. Whether it’s outside in nature or right in my bed. I frequently check in with God and the universe with what my purpose is, what the point of my life is, to better guide my focus. ASK WHY! It’s amazing to see how my intentions change based on what I feel called to do! My day to day is seriously broken down into hour by hour segments and so forth throughout the month. I don’t necessarily follow it, but generally I stay pretty on task. I think it’s healthy to be flexible for the unknown and to go with the flow, but I love having a plan that motivates me each day to accomplish something, even if it’s “Post to IG so people know you’re alive.”
AHH! Discovering my OWN potential! For some reason, when I first started out performing as Gaga, I forgot that I was actually achieving something. Because I felt like I was taking another’s creation and claiming it for my own, I felt rather cheap. I used that as my motivation to be different. I really wanted to be my own artist, respect her creations, and I felt I had to prove something to myself. So, I began dissecting everything that made us similar and everything that didn’t. I decided that to be the perfect illusion, I had to REALLY know myself, my weaknesses, habits, personalities, and strengths. I think we all question this as we grow up and I still do every day. I owe her a lot. My major realization was “Whoa, wait, I can perform as an internationally acclaimed pop star?" I selfishly thought, "Why am I not my own artist?" Ah-ha! GOLD. Silly monster, I already AM an artist, and I CAN be whatever I decide! So, I set out to do just that, utilizing the potential someone else inspired in me. Anyone can do this!
Oh my Gaga, I want to sing for her, with her. Even if I just ra-ra-ra’d in the back corner of the stage, haha! I would be so honored to sing with her, because in a way, I owe pretty much all of my success to her. Without knowing, she taught me to sing. I never thought I would be a singer, I was an actress, but she challenged me to find freedom in her music. Songs begin when words aren’t enough and I have a feeling we would write incredibly together. I ultimately would like to work for her, maybe even portray her in a movie. I feel like I know her work beyond what you could study or research and our paths in life are undoubtedly similar, mine less glamorous of course. We share so many interests and inspirations, but I’m just the girl without fame and fortune. I’d rather act and lift her up instead of being my own music pop princess. I don’t think I could be as confident being myself. She brings out the bravery in me.
I’ve made a habit to sing/dance EVERY day, and not just on stage. I love the endorphins it gives me and it keeps my vocality strength between long show contracts. I also think it reminds me to perform without an audience, you know, for myself and my creator. As for diet, my boyfriend and I have a lot of awesome recipes that are in a grocery cycle sequence. Omg that sounds so weird admitting that, but we never like to waste or throw food away, so a juicer has come in handy on many occasions! My favorite dishes are roasted garlic lemon chickpeas on top of Fettuccini Alfredo, Spicy chili garlic Tacos, and Roasted peppers with my Gma’s Lasagna in them, aaaand Oreo cheesecake, NOT SORRY! We believe that you should eat what makes you feel good and just be mindful of your portions and the time you eat, don’t eat late! We rarely go out to eat, seriously probably one to two times every other month. We enjoy cooking, dancing, and singing together in our kitchen, it has a disco ball, so it’s our own little world. We also cook in bulk, so we have everything rinsed, sliced, cooked and stored and just add sauce or ingredients the day of. Cuts the time of cleaning dishes and pans. We juice about two to three times a week and try to have one to two protein shakes every week, especially during show contracts. We have an awesome workout schedule, which we highly recommend everyone trying! We pick out our week by dedicating 30-45 minutes a day to something. So, Mondays are for abs, Tuesdays are for squats, Wednesdays are arms and I just stretch (because I hate arms...) and so on. Weekends we go outside to throw a football, play baseball, or hike to a waterfall. Sundays are God’s day, so we do our best to rest and reconnect. We break up our week this way so we’re holding ourselves accountable every day to do something, like brushing your teeth, and it feels less stressful. I feel like I’m not wasting an entire day at the gym, and then another day (or three) recovering. We work out at home and have weights/bands and that’s all you really need. We workout to stay healthy and feel good, not look like fitness models.
When I get stuck on something for too long, I redirect my energy to something else I need to get done and somehow that inspires me to go back to that problem with a fresh idea. Also, obviously, yoga, anytime, anywhere. Actually, whenever I get super flustered or upset etc. I immediately go into a forward fold or a breathing exercise. I think finding peace RIGHT away will always be the answer. I also find that nature brings me right back into the present and gratitude. I find that staring at the moon, you know when it’s out during the day, helps you realize that all of the world is hurtling through space around a giant flaming gas ball. You think “It’s a miracle I’m alive, and not just flying off this planet we take for granted.” Also, have you seen a flower grow from a seed? It’s gunna be alright.
You knew this was coming, FIVE FOOT TWO! Not just because it’s Lady Gaga’s, but because it’s REALLY eye-opening. She is so raw and genuine in the documentary, so refreshing! She de-glamourizes the celebrity life and shows her struggles so honestly. I also saw again how similar our personalities are. Not necessarily a documentary, but I adore the movie Julie and Julia, with Meryl Streep, because she’s my other idol. That movie, in a way, describes how I feel as a tribute and also has some great life lessons in it. As for books, I’d be lying if I didn’t mention Harry Potter, so there I did. But also, Wicked, and All Creatures Great and Small. I love fantastical creative worlds, but also enjoy books that are more slice of life like. I read a lot of plays. From Neil Labute to Tennessee Williams, etc. Reading will spark your imagination and I recommend just wandering through Barnes and Noble and finding inspiration all around you.
All images via TheLadyGagaTribute.com
To learn more about Erika you can find her online: