badass brooke candy dishes on her new album and MAC collab
As her MAC collaboration drops, we catch up with the sweet n' sour singer who continues to shock and delight.
Photography Alex Aristei
When you get the exclusive scoop on filthy-freaky-feminist singer/rapper/model Brooke Candy's hellishly hot MAC collaboration dropping this week, there are a few thoughts that instantly run through your head. The bombshell muse to Diesel's head creative Nicola Formichetti, Candy is a visual feast of Thanksgiving's Day proportions, plus all the leftovers. Will she be wearing chain mail and metallic armor? Cutout mesh bodysuits? Babies on leashes? We set out to discover all this and more.
The Opulence singer rings me from her home in Los Angeles post-workout session, and before we even exchange pleasantries I'm all, "Do you do squats in 12 inch plastic platform sneakers, ass-less spandex, and a rhinestoned fitbit?" Fairly certain that last thing doesn't exist...
Shattering my fantasy of a completely impractical, thong-clad Candy pumping iron in Versailles-esque gold doorknocker earrings, she confesses she just works out like a normal person, in sweat-soaked black t-shirts and leggings ("At first I tried to dress up, but it just gets in the way.") Brooke Candy may hit the gym like a basic, but her creative persona is still anything but. Just look at her latest video for Rubber Band Stacks, featuring Pomeranian puppies in a washing machine and a hand-painted toucan as a sexy playmate.
"Right now I like to fuse polar opposites to create something that's surreal and futuristic, like White-Trash-West Virginia-Chloe-Sevigny-in-Gummo with Liberace-Excess-Bedazzled-Jumpsuits," she says of her current hodge-podge yet very precise aesthetic. But don't expect that to stick around next year, or even tomorrow. "Two years ago if you'd have told me that I'd be where I am now, I would have laughed in your face… I'm seriously changing every hour."
There has already been an abundance written about the cornrowed candy queen, both favorably and unfavorably. To recap: Yes, Brooke Candy is the name on her birth certificate. She grew up in the well-to-do suburb of Agoura Hills. Her father was the CFO of Hustler magazine, where she also worked briefly. Later she did some stripping. Fuck yeah, she's openly queer. No, her parents don't approve of this behavior. Critics have discredited her as a wannabe and a rich kid, but she assures me that with every character she embodies, she really submerges herself in it. Sometimes to a fault. "I've put myself in so many situations that were not the most glamorous, because I wanted to feel what it was really like to live the image that I was projecting. It helped me grow as a person, because I forced myself to be uncomfortable."
The chameleon-like performer is now defying the reputation she conjured up, on a tear to be the best Brooke Candy possible and to excel in all arenas. "I go hard. I exercise like a beast," she says of her current health kick, in preparation for a show at Austin Pride Fest, among other things. Brooke's been training her ass off, alternating between yoga, spinning, and choreography. Hitting the sack at 9 and rising at dawn. "I just soaked my muscles in an ice bath for the first time; I'm feeling sort of supercharged," she says. You can almost hear the adrenaline pumping on the other end. What's gotten into this once-notorious club kid?
"I'm just training for my life, for my future, for my new album [out next year and tentatively called Freaky Princess, produced by Sia]. I want to be the best artist that I can be, and in order to do that I need to be diligent about my health. I want to be the person that is so uber healthy and fit that it inspires you to go out and do the same. I want to be the artist who is clear headed, works incredibly hard, and will go the extra mile and work all night."
This is not what you expect to hear from a woman who brashly raps about wanting to "fuck right now"and has a tattoo of a pot leaf on her butt cheek. But maybe this is all part of her master-plan. For Brooke Candy, there is no subject more compelling than duality. Just look at her exploration of conventional female archetypes - the bride, the Virgin Mary, the pop star - in her music video for the aptly titled "A Study In Duality." Screw your comfort zone, this woman does not have to be defined by just one label. The more hyphens, the merrier.
"Sometimes I don't know why I'm inspired by certain things, I just know that I'm instinctually driven toward it," she says of her fascination with dark and light. "I've seen a lot of evil in the world. And a lot of good. I know one needs the other to exist. We all have that darkness in us, except we don't choose to let ourselves feel it."
On top of working on a new album (and a ripped set of abs), Candy has been cooking up a little something with MAC Cosmetics: a capsule collection featuring two vampy lipsticks (Mind Control in bright red and Which Witch in deep purple) and an intense liquid eyeliner (Boot Black), inspired by her own obsession with good and evil. From the savage product names to the Chola-meets-Marilyn Monroe campaign shot by legendary Ellen Von Unwerth ("She's just the coolest fucking lady") to the sweet 'n' sour packaging, the collection is unmistakably Candy. Dichotomous, glamorous, naughty, and nice. Her signature split personality literally brought to life with a mix of deviant devil horns and gaudy dripping diamonds.
"In the industry and in the world, I am stifled. But MAC has always accepted me and wanted to showcase me," she says of the collaboration. "They take risks, and I take risks. They aren't afraid. They were open to every idea I put on the table, without hesitation, which was amazing. In my career, I've been constantly met with hesitation and opposition because of my radical ideas."
Growing up in small-minded suburbia, Brooke Candy always felt strange and out of place. "From the time that I could walk, I was just different, and I didn't have many outlets" she reflects. "But makeup, hair, and clothing - just getting ready and using those things as tools to make my outer appearance match how I felt on the inside - really helped me find self-love and acceptance." One could speculate that these early experiences informed her relationship to self-expression and beauty, one that aligns perfectly with MAC's legacy of fierce glam-powerment. "I think the freedom to be an individual is the most important thing on the planet. I was raised by drag queens - and I can tell you that they're the most fucking free people in the world."
Text Jane Helpern
Photography Alex Aristei