Claire Mortifee is a singer-songwriter and synth R&B artist who resides in Los Angeles with her husband Xavier, an African-American trans man. Her debut album Medicines drops on June 22nd, with the first single ‘Ouroboros’ being an refreshingly smooth, intensely catchy jazz melody with elements of pop and soul – check it out below! We caught up with Claire to chat about her new album, inspirations and being an advocate for the trans community.
Tell us about your musical journey/background.
My mom has a photo of me in a diaper, holding a toy microphone, with my head thrown back in dramatic crescendo…I’ve literally been singing since before I can remember. Around age 14 I began sneaking down to the piano in the basement and borrowing my sister’s laptop to record these beautiful little love songs that were just spilling out of my hormonal soul…haha! I’ve always had passion for the stage though, for dressing up, performing, singing and dancing around my house, my backyard, anywhere really.
The Ouroboros is an ancient symbol which depicts a dragon or a snake/serpent eating its own tail. What is the significance of this symbolism for you, and for your first single?
The symbol of the Ouroboros exists in Indigenous art on every single continent…it really helped to remind me that every time I feel like a part of me is dying, I am simultaneously being nourished. That death and rebirth cycles are not only normal, but indeed Divine and worthy of celebration.
What has inspired your debut album Medicines?
In Cambodia, gender roles still disadvantage women to a very significant extent. Because of this, my good friend Liong, who was born and raised there, has tons of trouble finding guys who respect her as genuinely equal. There’s no one for her to date! One time she was telling me how she wished there were more songs about something other than just romance.
So now that you’re asking me this, I realize this album is in large part for her. I wanted to put together a body of work that focused on spiritual evolution rather than on romance. I’m a firm believer that all other types of love just mirror our own self-love anyways – so I thought let’s focus on the root.
How has your background as a Reiki Master and Life Coach influenced you as an artist?
It has helped me stay focused on what’s most important to me – knowledge of Self + knowledge of Source.
Being married to a trans man, would you consider yourself an advocate for the trans community?
Definitely. Xavier has given me the greatest gift of my entire life, and I would do anything to show others how uniquely valuable his trans-formative nature is. I’ve learned so much about myself while going through this magical transition with him. My gratitude is overwhelming…I feel like the luckiest woman alive having him by my side.
This photoshoot is our way of reminding the viewer that timeless, queer, mixed-race LOVE has always been around, and that it isn’t going anywhere.
What do you think can be done to create more awareness for the trans community?
Visibility, definitely helps to create more awareness…but these days pretty much everyone’s heard of trans folks. The question in my heart is what can be done to create more compassion and reverence for the trans community? My honest answer for that would be to first cultivate compassion and reverence for our innermost selves. Really looking at and accepting the places within us where we feel most authentically true, whether or not we see the same reflected around us.
You’ve previously listed Jazz/soul artists such as Erykah Badu and Amy Winehouse as inspirations. What is it about their music that resonates with you creatively?
The first time I heard Badu, my whole life changed. Up until age 17 I didn’t even know neo-soul was a sound. I had her whole catalogue memorized within a couple months, couldn’t get enough. It just moved me. Same with Amy Winehouse. My spirit felt at home basking in their voices…invaluable. I’m forever grateful for those two women.
Creative Director: K8 McKay @kateroxmckay
Photographer/Editor: Tina Jo @iamtinajo
Hair: Julia Savitstaya @annysty
Makeup: Kendra Powell @makeupbykendra
Reminder: All images have been photoshopped.