Interview with Vixen Vocalist Lorraine Lewis (former Femme Fatale)

Photo by Ute Ville

By Mick Michaels

Lorraine! Welcome to The Cosmick View. Thank you for taking some time out of your day to chat with me, it is greatly appreciated.

CV: Femme Fatale hit the scene in a big way back in 1987. The band’s music and look definitely packed a punch and just after a handful of shows, signed to MCA Records. Was everyone in the band ready for such instantaneous fame? Was the band's quick label attention a matter of being in the right place at the right time combined with Femme Fatale’s right dynamic style and sound?
Lorraine Lewis: We were ready in our minds for sure because it is what we dreamed of…we wanted a record deal! I don’t think we were really ready for the reality of it all…but it was an amazing ride.

CV: Out of the gate it quickly became apparent that you were both the critics' and fans' primary focus of interest; the look and the voice were equally matched and poised for stardom. Was that the original intent, when Femme Fatale formed, to center in on you as the focal point or was this an organic turn of events?
LL: Femme Fatale was my brain child along with the keyboard player…I don’t think my band mates were too surprised with where the label focused their attention, especially since I pretty much hand picked the boys from back home

CV: Lorraine, did you realize early on that you were primarily being looked at and treated like the star of the show? Did this cause any amount of tension within the ranks of Femme Fatale or was everyone on board as long as it equated to the success of the band?
LL: We were a band, a gang…unified. We all ‘got it’ but I think the boys all wanted to shine in their own way and they did! The fans loved them all.

CV: MTV was on the Femme Fatale bandwagon as well, burning a trail rotating the band's videos quite regularly. At the time, women in Metal seemed to be both a rarity and a diamond in the rough...labels bluntly sold the fantasy to a craving audience. Did you have any objections to this sort of portrayal?
LL: Rock babes were pretty rare back in the day, at least on the radio. Lita Ford was at the top along with Vixen. Breaking through the boy bands wasn’t easy with the record stations but we did what we could to get noticed!

CV: Were there any concerns about the music ever being overshadowed by your individual popularity and image? With the record company, was it about the music or more about the sex appeal in your opinion? And did it make a difference as long as the band was gaining ground?
LL: Not really, I mean I’m a female Rock n Roll is what it is. I had fun putting on shows, and not taking myself too seriously… I think others might have taken me too serious, but most people got it!

CV: Fast forward to 2013 and Femme Fatale becomes an all female line up.  Was this a case of fully embracing the band's namesake and what sells? Or does it further demonstrate both the power of the music and talent available regardless of the gender being in a mostly male oriented industry?
LL: Femme Fatale’s guitarist Bill D’Angelo passed away before being asked to do MORC 2013. I knew I needed to make a decision about who the players would be and it just made sense to re-group, re-brand Femme Fatale with all girls… I got the best female players I could, and we were basically a traveling slumber party!

CV: Femme Fatale's lineup has consisted of some of the hottest young players around; including Alice Cooper guitarist Nita Strauss and the Iron Maidens' guitarists Courtney Cox and Nikki Stringfield. What type of energy did having such strong musical personalities on stage bring to the band and to the vision you had for the future of Femme Fatale? Was this more of the band you envisioned that could both match and enhance your own dynamic presence?
LL: All of the Femme girls kick ass, that’s why they were invited to be a part of Femme Fatale 2013 – they are all dynamic in their own right and are killer on stage. All of that amazing female energy just kicks you into high gear and I def brought up my game.
CV: Femme Fatale performed their last two shows aboard the Monsters of Rock Cruise this past May. Lorraine, what was going through your mind during those last performances? Was the show more emotionally charged than normal for you? Was it bittersweet?
LL: Monsters of Rock Cruise was where it all began for us, so yes, it was emotional for me… I think you can tell in some of the Youtube videos from the cruise that I was a bit choked up at times, and also missed a few words just taking it all in…I wanted to be as present as I could. The fans were amazing and it was tough during some songs like “Rebel” and “Fallin” to see people in the crowd crying…which of course made me emotional too.

CV: The idea that an artist needs to build a solid brand for themselves has become the way of the industry, whether professional or indie. So much so that an artist today needs to wear several hats and play numerous roles on top of being a performer and songwriter.  How does this artist model compare to the model you first encountered in the 80's with your rise to fame? Because of such demands on resources, can the music suffer at times? Can this type of taxation then diminish what the artist is truly meant to do?
LL: I wish I knew then what I know now…I wish I would have worn more hats back in the day and done more myself… I think it is all encompassing now and I’m impressed with artists who do it themselves…love it!

CV: Lorraine, earlier this year you stepped in as lead vocalist for Vixen. How did this come about? Was it at all a shock when you were approached for the job?
LL: I have been friends with Vixen for years and have performed with Roxy in a project called Roktopuss. I also have performed with Share in a project called L.A. Nookie. I love these girls…I love the Vixen catalog… I stepped in for Janet in February 2018 when she was having some health issues. Roxy called me when they realized she would be leaving and asked me to join. I was excited, nervous and stoked at the same time.

Photo by Mark Weiss
CV: Many fans have said the pairing of you with Vixen is a match made in heaven...but were there any considerations or hesitations on your part with taking the position?
LL: I am honored that the fans have embraced me as they have… there has been a lot of love for me with the girls. I definitely do my best to honor the songs, the vibe…the legacy that is Vixen. I appreciate the fans digging what I do and what I bring to the music. I also realize this last year has been epic and a chance for the band to re-group and prove ourselves together as one unit. The future looks bright!

CV: With now fronting Vixen, do you see yourself portraying a different or altered persona for this band's lead singer role as compared to Femme Fatale? Is there a distinction for you or is it a matter of just being who you are and letting that shine through regardless of the band’s name?
LL: I do my best to honor the songs, the sound of Vixen and I think I cuss less on stage…haha, but I am me, and I think that’s why they wanted me in their band.
Photo by Vince Foschini
CV: Have you found that Vixen and Femme Fatale share many of the same fans? Is it like one big happy extended family?
LL: We are def one big Rock n Roll family, but Vixen has a lot more fans than FF does…I mean they’ve sold millions of records so… it is great to get the chance to meet so many great people who love Rock n Roll. It’s also great that we have added “Waiting For The Big One,” and “Fallin In and Out of Love” to the set…so the fans get a little Femme Fatale in the set and the girls KILL it on those songs!

CV: Lorraine, do you see yourself as a role model? Or should musical artists be excluded from this type of social influence pressure the way actors and athletes are often considered or looked at as?
LL: I don’t know that I am really a role model, but I do live my life to the fullest and hope others can see that life just keeps rolling and I’m going to live it up! If my example helps anyone, well I’m honored.
CV: With Vixen gearing up with tour dates for this Fall, can fans expect to see a new album coming in the near future as well?
LL: We have been writing…have had 2 sessions working on new music… so YES SOON we will be in the studio and hope to release something in 2020!

Photo by Gregg Gannon

CV: Aside from Vixen, what's next for you?
LL: I am so fortunate to be in Vixen, a band I love, and work with women who are bad asses, talented and fun. I am also fortunate to work as a producer in television… I work for a company called Renegade 83. If you watch reality TV, you might know us from our hit show called “Naked and Afraid” on Discovery. I work 5 days a week in television and love what I do. Call me one lucky B!! Juggling my marriage, dogs, TV job and Vixen isn’t always easy but I will keep this train rockin…life is good.
CV: Thank you again Lorraine for spending some time talking and sharing with our readers. I wish you all the best and continued success.
LL: Thank you for the invitation, and to all my friends and fans out there, THANK YOU for digging what I do!

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My name is Mick Michaels...I'm an artist, music fan, songwriter, producer, dreamer and guitarist for the traditional Heavy Metal band Corners of Sanctuary. Writing has always been a creative outlet for me; what I couldn't say in speech, I was able to do with the written word.  Writing has given me a voice and a way for me to create on a multitude of platforms including music and song, articles, independent screenplays, books and now, artist interviews. The Cosmick View is an opportunity to raise the bar and showcase artists in a positive and inspirational light. For me, it's another out-of-this-world adventure.

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