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Yung Femme (any pronouns) is a queer, Black, multi-talented artist, and an incredible friend and person that I have had the biggest privilege in knowing. They are currently taking a hiatus from creative work, but I still wanted to interview them because the world deserves to hear what they have to say regarding art, community, and life. This interview is just a slice of the wonderful person that they are, but nevertheless, hope you enjoy.
Sara Onitsuka: You describe yourself in your website bio as an: “Aesthetic Composition Enthusiast, Sartorialist, Digital Artist, Story Teller, Rapper, Recording artist with performance artist dreams, Poet, and Personality”. Like, you really do it all. Can you talk about all the facets of your artistic profile, and what you aim to do or accomplish with your art?
Yung Femme: Prior to my hiatus, I really wanted to perform for people. I grew up in the arts and everything I was doing felt like a continuation of the dreams of my youth. You could say that what I wanted to accomplish with my art was to make little ole me from the past proud by having fun doing what I’ve always loved, creating. The “doing it all” really came more from my desire to make art something I could live off of and pay my bills with.
SO: How did you first start making art? What drew you to the forms of art that you practice?
YF: I started making art in school, I’ve always been a part of choirs and I used to draw in elementary school. From there I sort of decided music was what I was most interested in so I’ve always been in some type of musical group. Visual art mostly came into my practice because fellowships were easier to find.
SO: What does it mean to you to be an artist?
YF: To me being an artist is more than creating, it’s creating thoughtfully or joyfully. If the art you’re making doesn’t spark joy, revere moments, or seek to shine a light for others to move forward I don’t seek the point of it.
SO: You mention chosen family in your bio, and often speak to the impact of your community. What communities/who do you draw inspiration from?
YF: I’m blackity black and queer. Inspiration isn’t necessarily the word I’d use as much as admiration. I feel like inspiration has been a bit of a sullied word because it allows people to write off their pity on people who could use actual support. I really admire the perseverance of black folks and TGNC [Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming people] most of all because they show me that if it’s been done before it can be done again and that pumps me up to do it. Whatever it is.
SO: Your song, “Fostasesta” is named after a two-bill package that became law after Congress passed it earlier last year. These bills have a lasting, harmful impact on sex workers. Another song, “Send Sin”, I believe is about men demanding your time/energy/sex but not giving anything back. But both are also such catchy songs with joyous beats that you can dance to. Can you speak to your process of making songs, your intentions, and how important messages can be delivered while also delivering a bop?
YF: Part of my creative process honestly used to be manic episodes… I’d get so consumed with a thought that I’d have to flesh it out immediately and words sort of just rapidly spun out of my brain. Now that I’m on meds for my mental health my creative process is way slower and basically non-existent. Beats usually come second for me but words are easy. I used to be an english nerd so my vocabulary and penchant for double entendres is pretty vast.
Fostasesta is a bit of an outlier because it was my second attempt at producing, after Send Sin, and I just wanted to try sampling from my extensive meme collection. Memes can be pretty exploitative. The two memes I sampled are definitely exploitative of low income black women sex workers and I felt that using these moments where they were being filmed for the internet’s consumption had to be done responsibly. Since it was around the time FOSTA and SESTA were being criticized by sex workers I named the song Fostasesta so that anyone in my circle of influence would know where I stand on policies that make sex work more difficult.
Sometimes songs are just about real life experiences: Send Sin was partially about a date I went on at waffle house with a guy who was really into eating ass and partially about men I intercourse with who don’t reveal their personal lives to me that could definitely be married in hindsight.
SO: What projects of yours are you the most proud of?
YF: Honestly my favorite track of mine is one I can’t make any money off of because it was done on a creative commons beat from a producer I’ve admired for awhile, SirCrks. I called it All My Future Exes, because I’ve never had a relationship but I’m pretty jaded when it comes to the possibility of being loved as more than a sex object. Men really treat me like a secret and only want to see me after midnight like I’m not a treat and wifey material.
Send Sin is lyrically one of my favorite projects because I really went off when I said “I’m a pacifist(pass a fist) how you gon’ hit this.” It’s a triple entendre meaning, “I’m a pacifist how you gon’ hit this” as in how do you condone violence against someone who is pacifistic by nature? As well as “I’mma pass a fist how you gon’ hit this?” an inquisition surrounding how you would manage to hit someone who is able to dodge a fist. The final meaning is that “hit this” is a colloquial shorthand for engaging in intercourse. I outdid myself.
Been Still & Will is a low budget bop about how I love shopping at goodwill, it’s my first project that I did for fun and it really kickstarted me wanting to pursue art for real. I like really fuck with myself even though a lot of my art is centered around men not appreciating me the way I deserve and I could focus my energy into manifesting positivity. Special mention for the album art I made in case I ever completed an album, I really did my thing on that.
SO: So I heard that you are taking a break from music...what are your plans for your hiatus? What can we look forward to for the next evolution of Yung Femme?
YF: A big factor is that since my Bi-polar diagnosis and treatment my brain doesn’t function as creatively as it used to, which is a total bummer. I’ll probably make art again after I find a salaried position and have money to invest into myself, but there’s nothing more tragic and corny than a broke soundcloud artist and I just started to internalize that and posture it against my desire to one day have better healthcare, retire, and start a family. I really wanted to release an album and maybe one day I will, I think I’ve got enough content, but I’d have to rework some things.
SO: Is there anything else you want people to know about you? Do you have any parting bits of wisdom?
YF: I’m cute, I’m single, I deserve, you deserve. I’m still open to art collaborations even though I’m on hiatus. Life is always worth living even if you aren’t living your dream.
You can follow Yung Femme on instagram @yungfemme, and find more info about them on their website, https://www.yungfemme.com/.