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    A Coming of Age Trans Woman’s Story Through Music

    By Liam P. Mayclem–

    Meet Francesca Fey, the dreamy-voiced lead singer of San Francisco music duo Goth Lipstick. The seven-track downloadable album Crystalline Corset is eclectic, thought-provoking, and deeply personal—it’s the coming-of-age story of a young trans woman.

    The newly released digital dance album is both bangin’ and beautiful, and was recorded during the 2020 lockdown. Francesca says, “The entire thing was produced at home, literally in my bedroom.”

    She recently spoke more with me for the San Francisco Bay Times regarding her life and music.

    Liam Mayclem: What’s behind the name Goth Lisptick?

    Francesca Fey: There is a tube of black lipstick that I wear for special occasions and stuff and I just thought it was a cool name for a band and no other band had it. So here we are. It stuck.

    Liam Mayclem: Who is Goth Lipstick?

    Francesca Fey: Lipstick is a duo of myself and my high school friend J. Both of us just exchange ideas on song writing and production and collaborate. 

    Liam Mayclem: How has music helped you on your journey, coming of age as a young trans woman?

    Francesca Fey: It’s definitely helped a lot. I find that I write the best when I essentially use my lyrics, kind of like a journal or a diary, and just get my thoughts out and emotionally deal with things. So, when I’m writing a song, lots of what I’m thinking about is about how can I deal with my life right now—and how can I process all these feelings. That’s definitely very important and is part of my songwriting style.

    Liam Mayclem: What has the reaction been to your music, your openness, and sharing of your trans story?

    Francesca Fey: When we put it out, I was kind of thinking that it was going to be an album that my friends would listen to and like for a couple of weeks and then it would kind of fade away. But it has actually reached lots of people in the community and lots of trans fans have just reached out to me and said, “Hey, I appreciate how honest you are about your journey in this record and I connect with it a lot.” And that is just like the greatest compliment I could receive. Just that I am connecting with someone and maybe sharing a part of their experience that they would choose to express if they could.  So that’s beautiful.

    Liam Mayclem: Your music defies categorization, but it mostly makes me want to dance. What exactly is your sound?

    Francesca Fey: The refusal to be categorized by something. We were most conscious of that when we were writing. We have settled into a label of glitch pop, just because we are playing on these classic pop song writing structures with very glitchy, weird production aesthetics. However, if I’m describing our music in a more general sense, I like to just say experimental electronic, just because that kind of hits more boxes for people.

    Liam Mayclem: We’ve all endured a year of lockdown. You must be eager to be able to venture to a club and perform.

    Francesca Fey: I think about it every single night. There are so many tracks on this record where when I was writing them, I was thinking, wow this is gonna be so cool, people are gonna be going crazy to this and dancing. Unfortunately, we’re not there yet, but when we are it’s going to be hype.

    Liam Mayclem: Your home town San Francisco is partly the star of the video for the song “transhuman.” What did it take to produce that video?

    Francesca Fey: Making that video was so much fun. It was as much shooting a music video as it was just hanging out with my friend Kayla who produced the whole thing for me. We just went to go hang out by the piers in SF and then we maneuvered our way over to Salesforce Tower and the surrounding area. We’d do a cartwheel here or we’d dance there. We did the whole thing in just a few hours.

    Liam Mayclem: Who influenced or inspired your music?

    Francesca Fey: My hero, Sophie Zeon. May she rest in peace. She is probably the most influential producer to our music. She led the way.

    Liam Mayclem: Fans are digging your sound. To quote one fan, NIBBS26: “From the candy pop influenced ‘Catgirl Goes to College’ to the industrial sounds of ‘transhuman,’ this record tells a unique story of self-discovery that is completely unique and original.” Who do you hope will discover your music, and what do you hope the take away will be?

    Francesca Fey: I am very consciously and decidedly a trans artist. One motivation for me creating this record was that I just don’t see enough representation of trans people in popular music. I just wanted to create a piece of content that would resonate with other people like me: feelings of confusion, being a little lost, getting older, and entering adulthood. It’s got those who couldn’t find that kind of album or band out there in the world right now.

    Liam Mayclem: I am rooting for you, Francesca, and hope many have the opportunity to listen to your music. I hear a few dance floor fillers for sure. Now remind us where we can discover more Goth Lipstick?

    Francesca Fey: Please go online ( https://gothlipstick.bandcamp.com/ ) and you can find our entire discography, two EPs and our new marvelous album, Crystalline Corset. https://transgenderlawcenter.org/

    Note: All proceeds from Goth Lipstick music sales benefit the Transgender Law Center in Sophie Zeon’s name.

    Emmy Award-winning radio and television personality Liam Mayclem is regularly featured on KPIX as well as KCBS, where he is the popular Foodie Chap. Born in London, Mayclem is now at home in the Bay Area, where he lives with his husband, photographer Rick Camargo. For more information: https://www.bookliam.com/

    Published on March 25, 2021