November Feature Interview: Epiphany Mattel

Photo Credit: Scott Kirby

Diversity Rules Magazine welcomes Epiphany Mattel as its November feature interview.

Straight shooting hip hop trans artist Epiphany Mattel takes aim at pretty people who make themselves ugly by refusing to wear the most important accessory — a smile — in her hot new single, “#FIXYOFACE,” out now. The track is a beat-driven hip-hop club banger with an important message. “It’s about everyone going above and beyond with their appearance to stand out and be noticed at clubs today, but then they bring their scowl, a ‘resting bitch face,’ that makes them unapproachable,” explains Mattel. “They’re so insecure with themselves, they push that negative energy on the rest of the party and make everyone else uncomfortable. It’s a party bitches… lighten the hell up.” Along with the track, Epiphany Mattel has released a music video for “#FIXYOFACE,” directed by Assad Yacoub, the director of the hit film, Cherry Pop. Epiphany Mattel’s “#FIXYOFACE” is available on iTunes, Spotify and all digital platforms. The music video is on Youtube

Epiphany Mattel has big dreams. She aims to create a movement in sound; something similar to Neyo, The Dream, and Kanye West where other artists might create similar songs but fans will always recognize it as an Epiphany Mattel joint.

JRK: Before we get into the interview can you tell readers a bit about yourself, where you came from and all that good introductory stuff?

EM: Well I was raised in Kansas City, Mo. where I’ve attending Performing Arts Academies from kindergarten through high school. I’m an only child. I am a proud woke transwoman. I’ve been doing music for about six years now , though i come from a theater and modeling background. Writing has always been my passion. I’ve always had an obsession with writing down my feelings and exploring situations. This music thing kind of fell into my lap. Early on i never saw myself as a lyricist. I’m a licensed cosmetologist by trade and that was my career path. Though I’m accustomed to being on a stage or in front of a camera i always loved being a creative , making beautiful things. Something about being behind the scenes contributing to making the moment was always so gratifying to me. I just happen to write raps and basically share them with my friends for fun. It wasn’t until I was actually approached to write a song for release and given an original beat to write to that fell in love with being a lyricist. I’ve always been a music junkie but there was something about being on the creative of it that i found therapeutic and dare i say, Tantric. By the time i went through the production process and heard the finished product I was hooked. The thought of being an influencer and people reciting my thoughts, my message; oh hell yes I’m most definitely here for it. Past that I’m just a cool type of individual. Cool as defined by Prince in a rolling Stone interview circa 1990″ Cool means being able to hang with yourself. All you have to ask yourself is ‘Is there anybody I’m afraid of? Is there anybody who if I walked into a room and saw, I’d get nervous?’ If not, then you’re cool” that’s me all day.

JRK: Where is the name “Epiphany” derived from?

EM: To be honest I had no idea what Epiphany meant when I chose the name for myself. I was only about 9 years old. I was up late watching cable, you know how all the Rated R movies you’re not allowed to watch come on late at night. Well this particular night I was fortunate enough to catch a movie by the name of “Angel Heart” starring Lisa Bonet. Now I was familiar with Lisa Bonet as Denise Huxtible from The Cosby Show but her character in this movie was far from the Denise Huxtible i knew and loved and this movie was even further than the world present to me on The Cosby Show. Lisa Bonet’s character in the movie name was Epiphany and all I knew was I wanted to be her from that moment on. Later I found out the true definition of the word. An intuitive grasp of reality through something (such as an event) usually simple and striking which made it all more organic in my eyes, like it was destiny and the name chose me. It also means the manifestation of a divine or supernatural being. In my reality I am a God, so it fits.

JRK: You have a new single coming out called “Fix Yo Face.” Can you tell us about that and what meaning it has for you?

EM: My current single “#FIXYOFACE” is a labor of love and also one of my proudest moments. Not only is it my debut single but it’s my first solo effort. I’ve only done features in the past so this is a chance for the world to get a private audience with me uncut and unfiltered. It means so much for me to actually show the world who i am and the message I came to give. I write all my material even my features so this is a chance for the world to hear even more of my voice. The song comes from observing people in the club and nightlife. You go out to turn up and have fun. You finally get to the function a no one is dancing (outside of the few who are already too drunk to care). Everyone is just standing or sitting around posing with these “I’m so much better than this” look on their face. The kicker is while they are looking like ” Don’t look at me, don’t dare speak to me, and I’m so above this scene” they are looking around to actually see who is watching and wanting to speak to them. It’s all so silly to me. It’s like everybody has something to prove but haven’t even convinced themselves they are the image their projecting. Get over yourself. You came out to have a good time, have fun. I mean why so serious ? It’s life and nobody makes it out alive anyway so you might as enjoy yourself when you can. Plus people don’t realize how attractive they are when they smile and how infectious that good energy is.

JRK: Your father was a gay man and he harbored a dislike for transgender people. How did you deal with that?

EM: My father is always a sensitive spot for me . A true testament to the human condition. He was the first man that I loved and hated all at the same time. I don’t want to paint the picture that my parents abused me because that is not the case. We were all victims of a circumstance that at the time was beyond our own personal comprehension. True indeed my father had a strong contempt towards transgender people and did all he could within his power to shame, guilt, and beat me into to submission. He thought if he made me fear him and his reactions to me being me that I would eventually suppress who I am out of fear of the circumstances that came from it. My father’s homosexuality was never discussed or displayed in front of me as a child. My dad was a chef by trade and extremely cultured. At the same time he was a “man’s man” ( no pun intended). He always had one particular “friend” that was always around, they lived together. His friend was an effeminate male who always made himself scarce when I would come stay with my daddy. Much of my childhood I only saw him in passing. It wasn’t until I was older that I realized that was my dad’s boyfriend. I bring that up to show that my dad grew up in a time where you weren’t allowed to be yourself. It was something to be hidden away , never spoken about, and most definitely not acted upon. My father’s dad was a military man who ran his house with an iron fist. Although he passed before i ever met him you could hear the fear in my dad’s and his siblings voices when they spoke of him. That and they constantly told me that there’s no way i would be able to be me if he was still alive. This meant my father was forced into a closet for most of his life. Trained to not ” be.” There were things that were expected of him and he met those expectations. Two of them being a career and creating his own nuclear family. My parents divorced when I was 2 and my father immediate moved to the east coast where I would go live between his and my mother’s home in Missouri. Still I know now his purpose for moving away from his family was because that was the only way he could be himself. Where the dislike for transgenders comes in to play is to me just like the old saying ” same script different cast.” Most people do not understand transsexualism or the transsexual experience. It’s one thing to sleep with the same sex but to totally not identify and change your sex completely is something that unless it’s your experience you’ll never truly understand it. With that being said trans people are not only outsiders to the hetero-community but in most cases the gay community also. Most thrown away by their family and not fully accepted by the community their supposed to find refuge in. Its like this your born in a male body and your brain, spirit, and every fiber in your being tells you that you are a heterosexual woman. The heterosexual community tells you that you are a man, you are gay, and that behavior is not welcomed in their community. So you go to the gay community who tells you that you are not a real woman let alone a heterosexual one. They shun you or keep you at bay because you aren’t a ” man ” either, I mean even the drag queens take their dresses off and present themselves a males. For you to really think in your mind that you are a woman must mean something isn’t quite right with you mentally and who wants that around. So what do you do? You do what you have to do to survive. Some steal. Some run scams. Some sell their bodies to the men that fetishize them. To cope with such a grim existence some self medicate be it drugs , alcohol , or both. This cycle of the trans experience hasn’t changed. This was the image of trans-people that my father was subjected to while back east living it up in his own truth. Then to turn around and have your own child tell you she one of those “things” you’ve only seen negative images of . Hell no not on his watch. I always felt more tolerated than loved as a child. Not to say my parents didn’t love me. They didn’t understand me or what i was going through. They didn’t like the behavior so they kinda dealt with me with a long handle spoon. The more i told them i was a girl. the more they told me I was not.  I was a boy. Which would only cause me to act even more feminine to get my point across. My mom worked two jobs so from 8 years old I was staying home alone. I was a self sufficient, mature, and very intelligent kid I could cook, knew not to open the door, and had an obscene amount of time with my ex-model mothers wardrobe. By 11 I was dressing in my truth full time (which wasn’t allowed in my mother’s house) and running away from home to be meon the regular basis. I was numb to my dad and his feelings even though now I know deep down they were rooted in love. I mean I grew up in a time when they were killing trans people for sport, even being creative about it and no one cared. Still I felt if you can’t accept me then I want nothing to do with you. I’d run away. He’d find me. Beat me. As soon as I caught him or my mom with their guard down I’d run away again.The difference between him and my mom is she got so used to it she didn’t bother to look. She’d just file a runaway report and wait for me to be picked up by the police. She’d pick me up drive off and ask “Are you going to stop dressing like that and be the son I gave birth to?” I would look at her and reply “no I’m not. You didnt have a son you had a daughter.” She’d reply, “Well where do you want me to drop you off because I’m the only woman in my house.” By this time we were a comfortable distance from juvinile hall and still in the city. So I’d reply “you can let me out here” and leave. She would go on her way, call the police and my dad and wait until she had to pick me up again. Not my dad though since he was in the life he knew all the spots to go to to find me. So even though I’d ran away I would never hang out on the streets at night out of fear of my dad finding me. By 15 my father had returned to live in Missouri. I was told he had cancer. Either way I never returned to my mother’s house and since my father and I were essentially in the same community. I dodged him at all cost, seeing as I knew every time our paths crossed I would get a beating. By 17 I was leaving town for good and my father and I agreed to meet up and say our goodbyes. We sat on my great grandmother’s porch and reminisced about the good times (our relationship didn’t get volatile until I hit puberty. Even more so after I officially left home), my future plans, and his life lessons. I felt like I was the apple of my dad’s eye again, even though I was dressed in my truth. Like maybe there was a chance for us. The time had come for us to say goodbye and my dad kissed me and gave me the biggest tightest hug then he said to me “Don’t do this.” I stood there looking confused he went on to say “If you’re gay I can help you with that. You can live with me and I can navigate you through this life but not that.” I responded, ” I’m not gay. I’m a girl and this is me.” He barked back, “Not my son. Those people are sick in the head, you’ll never be anything to anyone.  You’re either going to be a prostitute, a drug addict, a thief, in jail, dead in somebody’s alley, or eventually dying of something you can’t get rid of. I will never accept this. My family won’t accept this. Your mother or her family wont accept this. You’re only setting yourself up for a lonely miserable life. Is that what you want?” I looked at my father like I would look at any man on the streets who disrespected me and said, “I hate you,” and walked away. I never reached out to contact my father again. Four years later my mom called me and told me my father’s HIV had crossed over in to full blown AIDS and he died alone in his apartment. He had been dead for a week before his brother thought to go by and check on him. Only because my father hadn’t been to check on my grandmother, which he did everyday. Today I still carry that guilt with me. It drives me to be as successful as I can possibly be if not more than I think I can. I like to believe that by this time my dad and i would be thick as thieves and next to my mom he’d be my biggest fan. I carry him with me always. I feel his presence constantly surrounding me, he’s my guardian.

JRK: When you met drag sensation Latrice Royale, the two of you immediately “clicked” and became your manager. What did she see in you that excited her?

EM: I can’t honestly answer to what it was that Latrice or as I call her Ti-ti ( short for auntie) saw in that excited her. Only she can tell you that. What I can tell you is what I presented to her in hopes that it was well received. When the “Weight single was in production Latrice wanted a featured rapper on the single to shake things up. We were brought together by a mutual friend who was a sister to her but a mother figure to me. After information was exchanged Latrice and I began talking. Funny thing was at our first conversation we talked for what seemed like forever. As if we’d know each other for years. She sent me the instrumental to Wieght and 24 hours later I sent her back not only a verse to be featured in it but i had written my own version of the entire song. After she received my material we were talking and she was telling me our mutual friend had an idea for a song called ” Excuse the Beauty ” but all they had at the time was a title. 24 hours later I sent her a full song titled, “Excuse the Beauty.” So maybe it was my work ethic and creativity that excited her. After reviewing my version considering my metaphors and how my lyrical content was hard but sexy at the same time not to mention that I am pretty easy on the eyes which makes me very marketable may have also got her excited. I mean she kind of single handedly discovered a triple threat. What business minded person wouldn’t get excited about that. Not to mention I wasn’t in the entertainment industry and I wasn’t a RPDR girl which meant not only was I something different than what the pond is being stocked with but I also wasn’t on anybody’s radar. Maybe that excited her. Now the conversation of management did come up but it didn’t happen in that order. Weight was released. Latrice’s career kicked in to hyper drive and our conversations became few, far and in between due to her crazy globe trotting schedule but she always managed to check in and let me know she hadn’t forgotten about me. A couple of years past and Latrice called and asked if I’m ready. I told her I was on my way back home to lay my grandmother to rest. She sent her love to my family and told me that when I left from seeing my grandmother off to glory she was going to fly me out for a photo shoot for the launch of her management company. I left my grandma’s funeral and went straight to Miami. Right before I left Miami I officially signed with LRI Management and Talent and the rest is as they say ” Herstory.” So let me tell you what excited me about Latrice. She didn’t feed me a dream and get what she could out of me then toss me away. Like some have done in my past. She told me her plans. Life happened which rerouted her. Still she reached out to me to let me know I hadn’t been forgotten. Then she came back for me and hasn’t let me go since. She excited me about rockin with her with the simplest action. She kept her word. Which speaks volumes on any level.

JRK: You are one to speak your mind and not worry about what others think. How has this helped you in your career?

EM: Yes i most definitely speak my mind and No I don’t care what others think. Why because I can’t afford to. My grandmother who was the only adult figure in my life that made me feel truly and unconditionally loved once told me “Sweet Pea, you can spend your life worried about what people say and try to please everybody and be miserable or you can speak your mind, be true to yourself , treat people how you want to be treated and be happy. So let’s be clear I never come at anyone disrespectfully. Everything is all about presentation when it comes to business. With that being said I listen to the opinions or constructive criticism of people who are master’s in their respective fields. Still at the end of the day I have to be able to feel not only comfortable but proud of the product i put out. I’m the artist ( and I’m sensitive about my shit). this is my intellectual property that I’m presenting to not just a room of people but the world. I have to maintain control when it comes to me and my peace of mind. In this business people will take you and totally misrepresent you. Turn you into their vision of who they think you should be. Next thing you know the thing you used to love to do feels like work, you don’t have anymore passion for the art left, you’re surrounded by handlers, and you dont even know who you are anymore. We can work as a team towards a common goal but win or lose I have to stay true to myself. that’s how speaking my mind and not harbouring on opinions of others helps me in my career.

JRK: Tell us about your dreams, Where do you want to be?

EM: A dream is nothing but a goal without a plan of execution. Fortunately I’ve sat on dreams and Talent long enough to have a plan. now seeing that I’ve been blessed to even be doing this or any interview, with you having an interest and inquiring about me clearly shows that plan has been sat in motion. no matter how book smart and cultured I may be I came into this industry from the streets and street law states that you never let your right hand know what your left hand is doing. so I’ll give you the bullet points . more music. not only from me but writing for other entertainers. shows , because yall can listen to me all day but until I hit that stage and get out in the world to feel , connect, and vibe with the public no one will really know who i am. some modeling and acting because that’s what I’ve been formally trained to do. most importantly branding. like Jay Z said “I’m not a businessman. I’m a business. Man.”

JRK: Generally, what are your songs basically about?

EM: My songs are about life from my perspective. Things I observe and how I receive them. Be it good or bad. My songs are simply about ” being.” Being Lit. Being Mad. Being Hurt. Being Shady. Being Sexy.

Just a state of being. That’s what all music is about and that’s the beautiful thing about art. It’s based in perception. The minds eye of the creator verses the receiver.

What I eat won’t make you shit but you’ll still get full. I just want to put my voice out there how you hear it is up to you. how it moves you is up to the universe.

JRK: What parting thoughts would you like to leave Diversity Rules readers?

EM: In closing I’d like to leave anyone who has been gracious enough to take time out of their life and read this interview with this. The more we focus and call out our differences or what makes us different, the more we are separate from each other. The more we show that we are really just all the same. When you strip away the bullshit. We all want to be SEEN. We all want to be HEARD. We all want to be APPRECIATED. We all want to be LOVED. We all want to LIVE. We all want to just BE. So let’s make a conscious effort to do that. Let’s SEE each other. Let’s HEAR each other. Let’s APPRECIATE each other in all our individuality. Let’s LOVE each other. Let’s LIVE a positive and conscious life. Let’s BE the best version of ourselves we can be while continuously evolving into an even better version than the day before. Just start with doing at least one of those things and sit back and watch how infectious that good energy is. Also, don’t forget to #FIXYOFACE.

Love & Light/ Sex & Money

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