Five electric guitars are mounted to Vixen’s bedroom wall. She wears bold black eyeliner with a glossy brown lip, a leather fiddler hat over shag dusty rose-colored hair, and sports a Naruto cut-off muscle tank complimented by tattooed sleeves. This is what it’s like to be in the presence of Vixen, a musician, songwriter, LA transplant and creative making profound strides as a trans artist.
At just 30 years old, Vixen has performed with musicians such as Swedish singer Zara Larson and Japanese-British pop star Rina Sawayama, even going so far as to tour with Sawayama back in 2021, as well as snagging writing and guitar credits on the queer pop artist’s Sophmore Album “Hold the Girl.” But the biggest milestone in Vixen’s career thus far was being featured in a Jackson/Fender Guitar campaign, one which made her the first trans person to ever be featured in a campaign of that stature.
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“Being the first trans person to be in a guitar campaign like that… I’m just really proud of myself, to be honest. I’m the first, but I’m sure not the last. Guitar has classically been a white cishet, male-dominated industry. It is getting more diverse. And me being one of the first ones through the gates shows that campaign was a sign of that.”
But before she became the woman she is today, there was a pivotal moment in her childhood that ignited it all. It was the moment she fell in love with music.
“I think it was about 10 or 11,” she says. “I was at a summer camp. I could play a little bit of guitar. I had some lessons, but I wasn’t passionate about it or anything. And then we’re all sitting around all of us, kids. The instructors brought out a couple of acoustic guitars. And we’re just taking requests and they’re having us all sing together. That sort of togetherness was the first time that I ever realized how amazing music can be.”
“Guitar has classically been a white, cishet, male-dominated industry. It is getting more diverse. And me being one of the first ones through the gates shows that campaign was a sign of that.”
At the age of 16, she decided to pursue a career in music. She hasn’t looked back since. “I think the highs of it are unmatched. Like, I don’t think I could do anything else and get the same euphoria from my job.”
Having been in the guitar industry for most of her professional career, she is humbled by her overall experience freelancing from gig to gig to eventually earning the success and once-in-a-lifetime opportunities she has now. But a career-defining moment of hers came when she was able to tour with Rina Sawayama.
Having toured with the British indie band Fickle Friends, Vixen was able to get an audition for Sawayama’s 2020 Dynasty tour. And though the pandemic halted the tour, Vixen still found a way to perform with Sawayama.
In the Spring of 2021, Vixen performed with Sawayama as a part of NPR’s Tiny Desk series. Once the tour schedule proceeded, she was eventually invited to record in the studio and even did some writing for Sawayama’s follow-up album, “Hold the Girl.”
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“It really clicked,” Vixen said of the collaboration. “It was so easy. I think also because we had had a social relationship for a while. And that really helps in songwriting because you want to feel seen by the people you’re collaborating with.”
On “Hold the Girl,” Vixen is a collaborating writer/guitarist for the tracks Phantom, Minor Feelings, Imagining, and This Hell (which currently has over 18 million streams on Spotify.)
Vixen’s joy is unmatched while she’s playing, though it may take time for her to feel comfortable at first. “For the first few songs,” she explains, “I’m kind of getting my bearings, getting used to a new environment. Just trying not to mess up. Usually, after a few songs go by, I take a moment to breathe and maybe crack a smile.”
“I’m looking at these people in the crowd thinking ‘you deserve a night off from this society that’s pretty tough.’ You deserve a night off, and I’m going to give it to you.'”
A moment that remains ingrained in her mind from the “Hold the Girl” tour is when they played the track “Catch Me in the Air” before it had been officially released. Vixen’s mother was in the audience.
“There’s a line in it that’s like, ‘Mom, look at me now… I’m flying.’ I just cried,” she says. “The whole song, I was in tears. Those were the best gigs of my career so far.”
She connected with the rest of the crowd, too. It was one of the first instances in her career where she could see herself in the audience. In those pure moments of camaraderie, Vixen felt liberated.
“I wanted to just give everything that I had every night, because I’m looking at these people in the crowd thinking ‘you deserve a night off from this society that’s pretty tough.’ You deserve a night off, and I’m going to give it to you.”
Even to this day, Vixen receives messages from fans expressing their appreciation and gratitude for being able to witness Vixen’s presence on stage. “And I feel equally as grateful for the opportunities to be up there and to represent people, people like us, really.”
As she lets out a brightly lit smile followed by a bit of laughter, she replies, “The way I see it is that I just exist.”♦
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