Outspoken, passionate, intense, talented… these are all words that can easily be used to describe lesbian hip-hop artist Mélange Lavonne. From her popular anthem/song “Gay Bash,” to winning the Dinah Idol music competition at this year’s Club Skirts Dinah Shore Weekend, Lavonne has been making a name for herself as one of the most exciting new additions to the world of lesbian entertainment. Here, Cherry Grrl learns more about her career, how she feels about how gays and lesbians are treated in America, and why she loves sharing her music with others.
Cherry Grrl (CG): This past year has been huge for you in terms of your career. Has it been exciting to see your music reach and affect so many people?
Mélange Lavonne (ML): Absolutely! I’ve been making music for a long time and writing since I was 12 years old. So to see it finally pay off by having loyal fans who inspire me to keep making music has been worth the long journey. I feel blessed that I’ve gotten this far in my career.
CG: Winning the Dinah Idol competition must have been exciting. What was that experience like for you?
ML: It was pretty intense, because there was a lot of amazing competition. I still can’t believe I won considering the talent I was up against. I was so nervous before the performance but once I belted out my first line, my nerves disappear and artist mode kicks in.
CG: What inspired your anthem/song “Gay Bash”?
ML: What inspired “Gay Bash” was the research I did about hate crimes online and how many kids and people were murdered for being gay. My heart was hurt knowing that people died for just being themselves. It reminded me of our country’s history when blacks were hanged, murdered, and tortured for the color of their skin. It baffles me how callus people can be when hate is involved. That’s why I wrote “Gay Bash.”
CG: What was your coming out process like?
ML: It was hard because I grew up with a religious background, so of course I thought I would get shunned from my family. But I realized that I had to give them a chance and it took them some time. Now it has been a beautiful experience to share my life and my experiences with my family. They are very supportive now.
CG: When did you first know that you wanted to go into music?
ML: When I was 12 years old, I started writing poetry. I was sick in the house with cancer and wasn’t allowed to go to school or be around anyone. So there was nothing else to do but write. Then when I heard the group Black Moon and the song “Who got the props,” I officially fell in love with hip hop.
CG: Did you always know that you wanted to use your music to advocate on behalf of gay rights and other important issues like domestic abuse and AIDS?
ML: No – I didn’t know, it just chose me. God chose me to belt out the music that I write. I can’t really explain it, but it’s a spiritual experience when I write. It’s like I am being monitored by a higher power of what to say and how to say it. I know that sounds freaky, but there is really something else that exists beyond our reality that intervenes in our life to show us a better path and to share that path with others.
CG: In your song “Future President” you state that, “gays are the new blacks.” Can you explain your feelings on that?
ML: I think America will always need a scapegoat – consider gays the scapegoat now. With a black president, the focus has shifted to other targets. Gays are not the only new blacks, but one of the targets. America has no credibility… yeah I said it. Look at our history and the absurd laws of this country – blacks couldn’t marry whites and they expect us to abide by their laws now when their laws were and are unjust? I don’t think so, that’s like the blind leading the blind. No thanks, don’t want to follow them. It’s time to start a movement, it’s time to rewrite history, and it’s time to eliminate the combination of church and state. Keep your fairytales of the bible in your world, not in our reality. I consider myself Christian but I have met some so-called Christians that are the most evil people I’ve ever met. I plan to change the opinions of gays and God and what Christianity really means, which is love, acceptance, and tolerance. I’m a real Christian.
CG: Your songs and lyrics are very passionate and intense, in addition to sounding great musically. What have been some of the reactions that you have heard from fans in terms of how your words affected them?
ML: My fans inspire me to keep writing, so we kind of feed off each other. Their reaction is: you’ve changed my life and made me have courage. And my reaction to them is: you have also changed my life and helped me to have courage. Without them, there would be no me. They are my motivation and like a child, I’m protective over them, therefore I make music that will bring them to a positive and encouraging place. They are my reason.
CG: You are also a cancer survivor. What can you tell us about that and how that experience has affected your music?
ML: It’s made me live in the moment and make the best of my time here. Life is short and valuable and it’s our duty to make the best of it and be positive.
CG: Who are some musicians who you admire or who have inspired you in your career?
ML: Tears for Fears – I remember listening to their song “Mad World” and was inspired to write “Sick Sad World.” I can grab my music from any genre and take something from it. Even if that genre has no words, but just strings on a guitar or chords from a piano, it’s about feeling that mood in the music and grabbing from that. So to answer your question – Beethoven, Michael Buble, Tears for Fears, Depeche Mode, Common, Jill Scott, Anita Baker…
CG: You have also done some acting. What is it that you like about that and what types of roles can we expect to see you in? What is the status of “Don’t Go”?
ML: “Don’t Go” is still being shopped by the director, Amber Sharp, and I recently filmed a pilot with Maurice Jamal called “Friends and Lovers.” But to be honest, I not an actress, I think I need more classes to feel more confident on screen and more convincing. It’s not easy to act, and I have a lot of respect for those actresses and actors out there who are convincing and do an amazing job. So we shall see what the future holds, but I want to take a few classes before I star in another role again.
CG: What other projects do you have in the works?
ML: I’m working on my next album, untitled as of now. And I want to get into directing music videos. I also want to start my own agency, representing artists. And my business partner and I are working on a gay friendly children’s book.
CG: And you will be one of the performers on the Sweet Cruise in November. What are you looking forward to most about your time as a part of that?
ML: Just experiencing the beautiful locations and meeting new people.
CG: So, for your inquiring fans out there, what can you share about your personal life?
ML: I pretty much have no exciting and interesting personal life. It’s music, work, school, video games, and music (laughs). So when I’m not working on music and in the studio, I’m studying for nursing school. And when I take breaks, I play my playstation. I live in Palm Springs and its 118 degrees… at 118 degrees there is nothing else to do but stay in the house. With this heat you really have no motivation to do anything during the day, and since I work nights, daytime is my relaxation in an air-conditioned house. I’m playing playstation right now. My life is pretty boring outside of performing, which is the way I love it!
For more about Mélange visit http://www.melangelavonne.com.