Interview: Owen James Vincent
Photographer: Marcell Turner
LeahAnn Mitchell, who performs under the moniker Lafemmebear. She is the first ever Black queer trans woman to collaborate with Reba McEntire on her single I’M A SURVIVOR" remix which is out on all streaming platforms. LeahAnn feels truly honored that a major country artist entrusted her in this remix of a song that has since gone viral as a TikTok trend.
I had the chance to speak to Lafemmebear about music, hidden talents and legendary icons.
Hi Lafemmebear! Thank you for talking to ReVamp Magazine. You are the first ever Black queer trans woman to collaborate with Reba McEntire on her single ‘I’m A Survior’. How does that make you feel?
It feels like it's important in general to see different people from different walks of life being represented in professional capacity in situations. I am a producer and sound engineer; this field is very much dominated by cis white males. Seeing a queer Black trans woman work with an icon like Reba McEntire, I hope it tells other queer kids coming up, the youth watching, the queer and elders watching, the Black queer elders watching, that everything we have been through and are going through is worth it. I just hope I can open doors.
Who are your idols? Who do you look up to?
Missy Elliott - style, fashion, music, songwriting, production - just incredible. Bjork, Meshell Ndegeocello, Ahmad Jamal, Robert Glasper. And Mary J. Blige - she just really knows how to sing about feelings. You feel everything she wants you to feel when she sings. And Reba - "Fancy". Alison Krauss and Union Station, gets me every time. Pat Metheny, my grandmother showed me his stuff. Max Roach, a jazz drummer - I learned about him in my early, early 20s and got really into listening to records he'd played on. It's really too many to name. That's what I can think of off the top of my head; aside from Missy, Reba, and Max Roach who always make the list, if you asked me on a different day I might tell you a different set of folks. I don't think my musical taste boils down that easily.
We have something in common! We’ve both worked with the talented Peppermint from RuPaul’s Drag Race! What was that like working with a RuGirl?
Amazing; she's an incredibly talented, beautiful, giving human. She's always super supportive; I'm looking forward to whatever we do next in the future. Go listen to her album, Letters to My Lovers.
I also listened to the EP 'My Blaq Feels’. The songs on it are so good! Something you can relax and chill out to. The lyrics on the tracks are so deep and meaningful. Where did you get your ideas for writing this material?
They're based on an amalgation of many relationships I've had over the past five years - friendships, partnerships, I feel like the queer community is beautiful in that friendship isn't defined by how intimate you "can" or "can't" be. It's about my growth in learning when to hold on, and let go of things, and cling to something worth fighting for - which goes for friendships, and not just partnerships and romantic relationships. Figuring out how to love myself so I could in turn love other people, and let myself be loved.
You’re a musician, music producer and sound engineer. Is there something we don’t know about you? Any more hidden talents?I have an eidetic memory when it comes to car statistics and facts, lol. I'm not sure it's a useful talent, but I've always been a car nerd and if we were on a city corner, I could tell you the make, model, and components of every car passing by, down to the trim. A friend once showed me a picture of a car's radio and I was able to tell the make, model, and year of the car based on that alone. Again, not very useful but it's something I can do.
Lastly, what have you got coming up that you can tell your readers? Anything else exciting coming up before 2021 ends?
Reba's Revived, Remixed, Revisited box set just came out - everyone should go buy it, stream it, listen to it. I worked on two tracks on Sudan Archives' upcoming album, and I'm jumping in the studio with Suzi Analogue next month, and some other stuff I can't talk about yet lol. Thank you for having me, and I appreciate you taking the time to talk with me about what's going on in my lil' bear world.