[PREMIERE]: FEE LION’s ‘Vision’ Will Have You All Up In Your Feels
FEE LION is serious wardrobe goals. From her black latex leggings to her PVC cone bras and killer temporary tats. But her wardrobe isn’t just goals, it’s also a direct reflection of the way her music sounds: vampy, moody, sexy, and maybe a little bit threatening.
She just released her latest song “Vision,” and we’re premiering it exclusively here on Galore. So put your headphones in, turn the volume up, and jam out. But after you’re done jamming, check out what FEE LION has to say about her personal style, being an artist in the digital age, and the inspiration behind “Vision.”
First of all, we need the origin story – where did you come from? How did you realize you could make music?
Born in Lithuania, first generation immigrant, currently residing in Chicago, pop-star in a past life.
What are some of your influences?
Bjork is an all-time top influence. I am always so moved by the life in her voice, how without even knowing the lyrics or the language she may be singing in, the emotion in her delivery tells a story of its own. I look up to that. For the past year though, Johnny Jewel has continued to rock my world, Cosmetics, TR/ST, Ministry, Gel Set, Chemise Cagoule, Eris Drew- all amazing, inspiring musicians to me.
If you were to tell someone about your music that hasn’t heard it – how would you want it described?
FEE LION is new-wave-pop to dance and cry to. “Fiona Apple spends the night at Johnny Jewel’s house”, is one of my long standing favorite comparisons.
Has vinyl and dark fashion always been something you have been drawn to? And does it inform who you are as an artist?
Fashion in general has definitely always been a big part of my life. I’ve gone through many a metamorphosis: a Harajuku street wear phase, a Dr. Martens & over-sized t-shirts as dresses phase, a 3+ spiked metal belts at once phase…For a few years now though , I’ve found myself in the all black everything phase. I do enjoy it and feel incredibly comfortable in an all black ensemble, but I’m reaching a point where I feel a little stuck: have I grown to fear color? (Open to suggestions and style tips, ladies!)
FEE LION is not too far from everyday me: the aesthetic carries over but is just elevated a few notches for drama. A black silk skort is swapped out with a latex mini skirt and handmade vinyl top, add chunky platforms and a cat eye, viola! The garments that I wear on stage all share a common language, even if the design is more intricate, the materials stay glossy, plastic and most likely black.
Where does this handmade Vinyl apparel come from that you wear on stage? Do you make it or do you have friends who make it? Why do you love Vinyl?
The first stagewear piece that I made for myself was a clear vinyl duet: a crop top & mini skirt (my go-to silhouette). Prior to that I was experimenting with different vinyl & latex clubwear pairings, but definitely found a special love in clear vinyl. Subsequently, I made a clear vinyl cone bra, dress, apron and eventually started incorporating LED lights. I absolutely love designing and making clothes, especially with clear vinyl. Paired with black latex and occasionally lucite, it looks very artificial intelligence a la Thierry Mugler meets “Mutants” by Bart Hess meets anything Iris Van Herpen. All genuises that I dream of working with.
Both latex & vinyl are so special to me, they really bring attention to the silhouette: latex to hug the right spots & vinyl to create shapes and angles. Also there’s a certain power that comes with looking like a glossy cyborg creature that everyone should experience.
I’ve taken a bit of a break from creating stagewear recently but have been incredibly lucky to collaborate with and wear pieces by An Authentic Skid Mark, Eda Yorulmazoglu , Giselle Gatsby & BAMBI, some truly magical Chicago designers.
It seems like when you perform you like to make it a pretty detailed production, including costumes and dancers – what is your inspiration for when you have larger performances?
Well, most often I perform alone, especially while on tour, but even so it is still a detailed production. When I first started playing shows as FEE LION, I would bring my own lighting structures, disco balls, a fog machine, all of my studio gear, perhaps a video element or set piece etc. in order to transform the mood and create a comfortable, safe space for me to perform. In the end, it was satisfying but extremely taxing for me to do all by myself. I’ve gotten to a place where my stage show is a bit simpler and more efficient for me. I bring a simplified set of instruments and instead of lugging around lights, fog machines, and set pieces, I’ve been sporting more theatrical garments that really bring a special life to the show. I do still use visuals and invite my backup dancers on occasion. In any performance, large scale or small, it’s my goal to get lost inside the tunes and let them carry me through the set. I’d love for my live show to one day become an interactive virtual reality world.
Do you think it’s easier or harder to be an artist in the day and age of digital music and Spotify?
Being an artist is hard no matter what. It is a constant challenge with endless obstacles and often times little to no recognition. So you have to love it wholeheartedly, first and foremost! I’m in a place now of heavy research digging up the ins & outs of music aggregators, Spotify, ITunes, what’s a publisher, who’s a distributor, etc, etc, and learning that there is so much behind the scenes.
Sure, the accessibility of Youtube, Instagram, Facebook, is a gift but it’s still business and suddenly anyone can be a musician, a photographer, a filmmaker with the click of a button. Now numbers are important, views are crucial, followers essential and raw talent oftentimes secondary. I find it hard to navigate at times, there’s a sense of constantly having to prove yourself and up-sell your brand through social media. Not only are you accountable for making the art, now it’s just as important to be your own business woman. It’s hard to keep up with all the platforms!
That being said, I can’t complain, social media has done so much good for FEE LION and I actually very much enjoy being able to personally curate it, naturally grow my following and meet amazing people along the way.
If VISION were on a movie soundtrack, set to a specific scene maybe, what would it be? Is it an anthem or a party song?
It’s a love song. All of my songs are love songs. It’s the part of the movie where I, the heroine, zip off into the night on my 2007 matte black Honda CBR1000RR as the city burns behind me.
What inspired you to write VISION? Is it about anything or anyone specific?
I had absolutely forgotten that I originally wrote VISION on a vintage electronic chord organ that I found in a dumpster. I was just experimenting with it when I came across the two chords that became the foundation for VISION. Given the organ’s deep, slightly off pitch, quivering character, I heard a sadness woven inside of the notes that spoke to me… VISION is about being manipulated- time & time again being pressured to fit into a mold and resisting to recognize the pattern. It’s about taking a moment to confront yourself, find your inner strength–to realize that you are powerful and don’t need to shape-shift to anyone else’s liking. Thinking on it now, I guess it is sort of an anthem.
When can we expect to hear a full album from you?
Right now releasing a full album isn’t on my list of immediate things to do. I’ve got my plate extra full with content to flush out before I can make time & space for the development of a full length. (Which means lots of surprises on the horizon in the meantime!) I would love to take a month or two off in the winter time, travel to some place warm and just conceptualize, write, jam. It would be my debut album so naturally, I would want it to feel deeply special & current to the world and my relation to it. I haven’t had a chance to really take a break and focus my energy solely on music making for a few years now so the craving is strong!
What’s next for you? Is there an upcoming tour?
Yes! I’ll be on an east coast tour most of October, playing kind of a light tour: a few shows on the way to Pittsburg VIA Fest, then New York & Canada. Still waiting on my passport, but fingers crossed we make it to Canada.
Where can we find out more about you? Social media links?
You can listen to “Vision” on Soundcloud, buy the track on Bandcamp and check out the animation video on my Youtube channel!
Photography by Kohl Murdock @kohlmurdock
Creative Direction by FEE LION @1800feelion
Onset MUA & Style Assistance by BAMBI @glamoursuicide
Animation & Additional Editing by Jesse Clark @jesseclark2016
Vinyl jackets & cap by BAMBI @glamoursuicide
“What’s on the Inside” drip garment by An Authentic Skid Mark @anauthenticskidmark