Do you have any rules of thumb now when you go into an interview?
Obviously, now I’m like, “Don’t let some random comment that you wouldn’t have even thought about overshadow something important that you were actually trying to say.” ’Cause while it’s all well and good to be like, “This thing is bullshit!” it’s also kind of like crying wolf. I’m much better now at understanding journalists’ intentions. It sounds really jaded, but I think it’s good to never forget that you’re with a journalist. Even if you’re being mates, there’s some intention there. So I try to remember, “Don’t bro down with everyone!”
At the same time, a lot of the music industry is bullshitty. What makes it worth it for you despite all the parts that can be upsetting or superficial?
The biggest one for me is the total reward of having people our age be like, “I see what you did there, and I really like it and I can relate to it.” I have the “Ask” feature on my Tumblr enabled so people with a Tumblr account can send me a message. To me that’s a really useful tool, because I get to hear what people are thinking about what I’m doing, which is—for the most part—super redeeming. I actually have this folder on my computer of really lovely things that people have said to me on Tumblr, and whenever I’m in a super low, terrible mood, I’m like, Remember these wonderful souls who said incredible things to you and who have told you that what you do is worth it! Sorry, this sounds so “I LOVE YOU GUYS!! CATLUVR69, THANK YOU!”
I love that. Is catluvr69 a real one, or did you just make that up?
I just pulled that out. I love adding 69 to faux internet usernames.
It was a very convincing Tumblr URL. Tumblr gives me anxiety and I don’t use it anymore, but I enjoy following yours. You have some fashion stuff on there, and I am interested in the way you think about style and the way you dress.
Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been into clothes, but not really labels—that’s kind of only been in the last year or so. It’s something I’ve always cared about. I used to just constantly thrift and make stuff and cut stuff up and borrow my dad’s stuff and borrow my little brother’s stuff and all that jazz. I guess that approach means that I’ll wear something from 1992 to a red carpet event because I have no concept of “this is current” or whatever. It’s just, if something is cool, then it’s cool. A lot of ’90s fashion isn’t simple, but, for example, Kate Moss in the Calvin Klein ads, or a white T-shirt and black pants, just that kind of clean, powerful aesthetic—that’s what I’m really drawn to. I recently bought this Acne jacket. I’m gonna go put it on. I’ve just started buying kind of brand-y stuff, but I get too scared because I’m like, “This is so expensive, I can’t justify it.” But I bought this Acne jacket and it’s so awesome. Hang on. [Runs off to get the jacket and returns wearing it]
Oh my god, it’s perfect.
It’s velvet lined. I just wear it in bed and hang out. I think what’s cool about it is it’s really tough but at the same time really beautiful. At the moment I’ve been wearing heaps of [that kind of] stuff. Maybe that’s because every day in this industry I get told to wear a dress. [Laughs] Or put heels on. So I’m like, no, I’m gonna wear these old-school Margiela trousers and a blazer.
I really like that. Is it hard to have your particular style and aesthetic in an industry where it’d be easier to wear the “opposite” thing—the dress and heels?
People have been surprisingly much more accepting of my vibes than I would’ve expected, which is awesome. I think that when I step onto a photo shoot, I probably have a fearsome reputation of not letting anyone tell me what to do, so they’re like, “Let’s just let her wear whatever she wants.” I love dresses, and I wear a lot of dresses. But lately I’ve just been more drawn to a really nice pair of pants and a white shirt. Patti Smith vibes.
I didn’t answer your question—I’m sorry! I have found that there is a lot of stuff, particularly on photo shoots, that people expect of girls, like “Pop that hip out a bit more! Can you just give me a wink? Can you just look a bit more sexy?” [Laughs] Or, if it’s an outdoor thing they’ll be like, “Oh, you’re in a long, beautiful dress? Let’s get you sitting in this field and looking confused.” Some of the stuff, I’m like, no one would ask this of a guy.
I hear that loud and proud. I think having to assert yourself in that way—it’s on a bigger scale with you, but it’s something a lot of girls our age have to do anyway. Do you have any advice for girls about getting yourself to that headspace where you trust yourself and can tell people what you want? Who or what helped you trust your instincts?
I think it was my manager Scott, actually. We’ve been working together since I was 12 or 13, and I don’t think I’ve ever felt like I wasn’t his equal. Which is a weird thing to say of a 45-year-old man. Early on he told me, “Well, you’re your age and I’m my age, so you know what’s right for you at this age,” which was cool.