Exploring duality and the power of human experience with surreal pop muse, Brooke Candy
Brooke Candy has ripped her way through the music world, wrapped in surreal fashion, inciting revolutions at every turn with her anarchical nature. She’s young, only 25, but her work says elsewise, steeped in the raw emotion of someone who’s lived a thousand lives and continues to meet life head on, challenges be damned. It’s easy, when a new pop icon emerges onto the scene, to reach for comparisons to those who’ve come before. But Brooke continues to defy convention, rejecting conformity and embracing only what keeps her, and her music, relentlessly honest. Shot and styled by her frequent collaborators and creative muses, Steven Klein and Nicola Formichetti, Brooke brings her uncompromising fierceness to a M·A·C collection that doesn’t fail to make a statement. Here, she discusses her desire to embrace simplicity, her unconventional path to fame, and how a newfound perspective on health has inspired her to save the planet.
There’s a lot of darkness in the looks you created for this campaign — what does that say about where you are right now?
The concept snowballed pretty organically. I’m now, for the first time, venturing into simplicity, and there’s something so exciting about that. I’m not the best at it yet because I always like more — a longer video, more plot lines, more outfits — that’s how I operate. But I’m finding it more challenging to simplify and that’s really exciting. I hope my fans will look at it and see it as a natural progression for me as an artist. It’s dark. It teeters on that line of being thought-provoking and really beautiful, but then also to stay true to who I am.
There’s a real duality between darkness and light, which is something you seem to be attracted to and inspired by.
I’ve existed in both realms. It’s important to express both as an artist because you really need one to solidify the other. As people, we all have a balance of darkness and light, and as an artist, it’s important for me to harness both positive and negative energy because that’s good art. Darkness can be more honest and positive than the opposite. If you can express it and be honest about it, then there’s a sense of light within that. Does that make sense?
It does. Everyone experiences really dark times, and to be able to connect with someone about that — it’s more inspiring than merely relating to general feelings of happiness.
Exactly. For some people it’s more taboo, but for me it’s more relatable and honest. It’s how I express myself. For the most part, I get it all out in the art and then it’s done. Once I’ve expressed that sadness, pain or anger, then it can go on to inspire other people who are in that frame of mind and don’t know how to express it themselves.
You have said that you were raised by drag queens. What did you learn from that? What do you love about a good drag queen?
I learned how to contour [laughs]. Beyond learning how to make an entrance, and legitimately, to contour, because that’s where I learned to do my makeup, and to just be myself. I learned how to embrace my eccentricities and to be really proud of who I am.
Would you say that you’ve taken any unconventional paths to getting where you are today?
I think we all have, to an extent. When I was 17 I moved out of my house and to San Francisco with no money, no anything. From where I grew up, that was pretty unconventional. I’ve experimented with just about everything you can think of. I think I found myself when I was really down and out and working as a stripper. I wouldn’t recommend it, but it did help me.
What was it about that time in your life that inspired clarity?
I had absolutely nothing left to lose. Nothing could have been taken from me that I hadn’t already given up, or that wasn’t already stripped away. I had no inhibitions, no money, there was nothing holding me to the ground, so that’s what pushed me to get to know myself better.
Where else would you say you get your energy? I know fitness is very important to you.
I’m so into a healthy lifestyle right now. I was never conscious of it and now I have so much energy that I’m eating healthy, no gluten, no dairy, and I work out during the week. I’m excited to wake up and do what I do.
Has it changed your art at all?
It’s made everything stronger. I sleep better at night; my moods are much more balanced. I’m very manic and neurotic, and since I cut out sugar and processed starch I feel much calmer. I have this energy bubbling from the inside. It’s not nervous energy, it’s calm, serene energy.
If you could change the music world, what would you change?
I don’t listen to much right now. It would be cool if we could back up a little bit and get back to where music was in the 90s. It was more raw and for the people. I’d love to use my platform, as it grows and expands, to help affect some sort of climate change. Just starting as simply as saving honeybees, or cleaning up the ocean. The planet is wrecked, almost beyond repair, but I’d still like to try.