photo credit: Fabiola Dieuve
- John Cohill at Force Field PR
Clear Mortifee is a trans/non-binary recording artist hailing from Vancouver, Canada, and now based in Oakland, California. They demonstrate their creative vision through musical exploration and authentic storytelling, illuminating time with palpable emotion and infectious wonder.
Their 2017 debut album Medicines included collaborations with Grammy-winning producer Chin Injeti (Drake, Kanye West), found a home on the Oprah Winfrey Network, and garnered praise from the likes of Forbes and Hype Magazine, who dubbed them, “a modern pop star with the message of love behind [their] music.” Clear’s newest offering, a collection of songs in two parts, dubbed Fairies: Act I & Act II, has a more evolved aesthetic, opening up around the awakening of Clear’s gender-fluid identity and the spirituality behind their transness in a way that both entices and empowers listeners. With recent accolades from press including PAPER, CLASH, Earmilk, MTV, and The Fader, the gifted melodist successfully embarks on this new terrain, initiating an important progression in the narrative surrounding self-empowerment, gender identity, sex, and Art.
Fairies: Act II is the second half of this selection of songs written during the transition between experiencing a devastating loss, and discovering a whole new state of being. In 2018, Clear was faced with a painful divorce, and songwriting became a source of comfort and catharsis. He laughingly describes his past self as a “bougie L.A. housewife,” who had to suddenly leave everything behind, starting on a path to reclaiming their sexuality, divinity and sovereignty. Over the next two years into early 2020, Clear’s journey became a reckoning of gender freedom and blossoming into their renewed manhood. Throughout this ongoing process, Clear wrote hundreds of songs and collaborated with a myriad of producers and musicians, culminating in Fairies, a collection of the best and most authentic creations from that time.
The songs on Act II tangibly immerse you in the pain and joy of going through a second coming of age. “It was a very difficult time,” Clear explains, “I was right on the precipice of deciding to medically transition, and I was experiencing a lot of dysphoria. Now I’ve grown into acceptance and reverence for my true identity as a trans/non-binary person.”
Born and raised in Vancouver, BC, Canada, Clear Mortifee has music in his blood, with two Aunts who are professional singers, and a rich family tradition of singing and harmonizing together during holiday gatherings. As a child, Clear loved expressing themselves with music at any chance they could get. “My parents told me this story about a time they took me to a music festival as a toddler. At one point, they had turned around and I was nowhere in sight! After a moment of panic, they looked toward the performers and there I was, wandering across the stage, reaching for the mic.” It was no surprise that Clear joined choir and musical theater in grade school, performing in over 15 plays and musicals before graduation. Clear was also a child in touch with the power of imagination and the spiritual realm, communicating with fairies, guardian angels, and other supernatural beings.
A powerful vocalist and storyteller, Clear began writing their own songs at age 14, and began performing their own music a year later. They were inspired by the Canadian indie scene with acts like Feist, Metric, and Tegan & Sara, as well as Destiny’s Child, and Amy Winehouse. Towards the end of high school, new friends that would later become hiphop/electronic outfit Potatohead People, introduced Clear to Erykah Badu, changing everything. Exposure to this new sound opened up his world, and from there, he began pouring out his soul with magical, groovy RnB expression and experimental jazz and electronic vibes, continuing to evolve his sound to this day.
Clear’s unique artistry continued to develop with one foot in Toronto and one in Los Angeles, before he settled in Oakland, California in 2021. Clear has collaborated as a vocalist and songwriter with countless artists, producers, DJs, and songwriters across varying genres. After gaining notoriety in his hometown, performing all around Vancouver and releasing dozens of tracks with an eclectic community of friends and musicians, the release of Clear’s debut album Medicines in 2017 brought critical acclaim, and recognition by Spotify’s Next Wave Neo-Soul, and Soul ‘n’ the City playlists. Clear followed up this success with the series of singles from the Fairies: Act I era, and a subsequent 2019 collaboration with Aussie alt-electronic group Miami Horror, “Luv Is Not Enough”, which led to a new global audience.
Fairies: Act II manifests complex emotions with articulate storytelling and a more refined soundscape. Clear reflects on how their writing process has changed in this new realm of creativity: “The stories on Medicines were more surface level, almost like affirmations. With Fairies, I wrote these songs as literal journal entries…they document my specific experiences. Although it was uncomfortably vulnerable at times, it was also super cathartic for me. I find deeply personal songwriting to be a more fulfilling and satisfying creative process all-round.” Musically, the tracks have a significantly more modern, fresh alternative-R&B feel. Long-time friend and collaborator Teddy Roxpin produced tracks “C Shells”, “Teeth” and “Honey Boy”, whereas Smile High (of funk band The Main Squeeze) produced “Free Spirit”, and “M@n Like That” was written and produced with Toronto’s Akeel Henry (Babyface, Daniel Caesar, 11:11, Jeremih). “Free Spirit” and “M@n Like That” feature the alluring talents of Otis Junior and OSHUN, respectively. The vibe is smooth, hypnotic, deliriously futuristic, with seriously crunchy grooves and swagger.
The EP opens with “M@n Like That,” a smooth and sunny bop released early in 2021, and paired with a gorgeous video that premiered via PAPER. The romantic visual, co-directed by Mortifee and Sherona Darling, features dancing and choreography by Camal Pugh and Sam Ahmed. The track got a fresh update from duo OSHUN, a fun and flirtatious second verse that adds sparkle to the storyline. The playfully defiant “C Shells” was a midnight reflection written while deep into 2020’s lockdown. A dynamic track rich with textures, Clear says the song “honors my resilience and faith as I navigate my gender transition, and explicitly requests I no longer be misgendered.” Up next, “Teeth” is a flavorful groovy track, heralded by Acid Stag as “full of depth and wonder.” The song showcases Clear’s soulful swagger as he unfurls the story of a twisted, toxic relationship. The EP takes a tender turn as Clear’s silky vocals float over the intimate “Honey Boy”, which Clear divulges is about “the true story of when I met and fell in love with the first person to ever call me his boyfriend. I think he saw me before anyone else did – and even before I could fully see myself. He would call me ‘honey boy.’”
The EP closes with “Free Spirit”, featuring the talents of Louisville neo-soul artist and radio host, Otis Junior. A delicate and uplifting R&B ballad, it’s about defining one’s adulthood for oneself, expelling fear and shame for imagination and self-conviction. Clear cold-emailed Otis to ask if the singer/songwriter would lend a verse to the song, and they are elated it worked out, saying, “Otis Junior’s verse gives me chills every time; such a vulnerable and authentic take.”
Clear’s music brings healing to those experiencing adversity, inspiration to the spiritually curious, and affirmation to queer, trans, and non-binary individuals. Paired with tantalizing sonic textures and stirring vocals, Clear Mortifee invites listeners to explore new realms with their EP, Fairies: Act II, due for release on December 10th, 2021, via AntiFragile Music.
Fairies: Act II
Street Date: December 10, 2021
1. M@n Like That (OSHUN version)
2. C Shells
4. Honey Boy
5. Free Spirit (with Otis Junior)