Aesthetic:Brooke Candy

Jacket (as blanket): Leeann Huang
Thong: Stylist's own

Words: Marta Bausells
Photography: Tom Blesch
Styling / Direction: Jamie Shipton
Set: Ash Halliburton
Hair: Jake Gallagher
Makeup: Mattie White

Brooke Candy is all laughs. She’s wearing zebra crocs, a tiny pink skirt and cleaning gloves out of which sequin fringes cascade. She’s posing for the camera while holding and pretending to lick a cake with her own face on it, while her actual face and half-naked body are covered in shaving cream. For another artist this might sound eclectic or a bit on the nose, but for Candy it’s just an average Thursday. “Is this even a cake? It fucking better be a cake,” she says. Luckily it is: the entire crew eats it when that particular look is wrapped.

Candy’s visual language is certainly supersaturated, and has been defined in ways including “stripper-meets-Tumblr”. She defines her artistic persona as “surreal and bizarre”, but day to day she’s just about tattoos and “dirty t-shirts”. She’s just been to New Orleans, where she got 70 tattoos in four days. “Lately I’m obsessed with covering every inch of my skin in them. I don’t know where it comes from.”

In many ways, her look matches her music. Both are constantly shape-shifting and experimenting. After leaving Sony last year, she is about to launch her EP War, a follow-up to 2014's Opulence. We settle in for the interview at the same time as she is naked and being body-painted by two artists (the crew later decide to scrap that look) but she is focused and unfazed. Candy explains that she is loving this new phase as an independent artist: “I felt like my soul had been ripped away from me. I’ve always made art on my own and it was how I express my emotion. And when I signed, that was taken from me. So I had nothing. I felt dead inside, for a while I hated waking up in the morning.”

Bodysuit : I Am Gia
Necklaces: Brooke’s Own
Artwork: Filip Ziebo + Elly Maddock

Gloves and Skirt: Adriana Hot Couture
Earrings: Tatyana Yan

Her latest single, My Sex, was written by Charli XCX, MNDR and Peter Wade with Pussy Riot in mind, but when they played it for Candy, she “had a meltdown” and wanted to work on it. She gave it her signature industrial-punk meets raw dance sound and added Mykki Blanco to the mix, on which Nadya from Pussy Riot already featured. The result is a “sex-positive anthem” and a celebration of non-binary bodies, and the video is a 3D-animated visual explosion featuring sex dolls, latex, aliens and dildos.

Growing up in the suburbs outside of Los Angeles, Candy felt like a “psycho” she says. “The suburbs are more bizarre than any real strange subculture, because they’re so far removed from culture and very homogenised.” She wasn’t really included in her peers’ activities, and she didn’t quite understand their bubble either. She then moved to San Francisco, where she came into her queerness. “I was surrounded by an amazing, strong, supportive queer community there that really helped raise me.” Moving back to LA around age 21 after that experience, she says she felt “more confident and free to explore different mediums of art. I started to make music at the same time that I started to strip, which is bizarre. I was just really exploring myself!”

Top and Skirt: George Keburia
Gloves: Adriana Hot Couture
Sunglasses: Poppy Lissiman

Dress and Jacket: Lado Bokuchava
Shoes: Yeezy

Candy rose to prominence when she starred in Grimes’ video for Genesis. She explains that they ran into each other at a party at a warehouse her friend owned where “all the weirdos in LA dressed up, got wasted and made art.” The night they met, Candy “was dressed as a robot for no reason, with long braids, and [Grimes] came up to me and was like ‘dude, you look so crazy’ and a month later she texted me one night and asked me to be in the video, which was shooting a day later.”

Right now, she is excited by porn – “I prefer to talk more about porn than my music!” – and she’s just directed a queer porn film for PornHub. It’s inspired by 70s porn, an era she wants to bring back. “It was more decadent, kind of cheesy, there was a plotline, and it was more aesthetically pleasing. Now, no one cares: 'we’re going to film in the Valley with a handheld camera and that’s all the public’s going to get'.”

In line with the recent wave of ‘ethical porn’, the film, which is corny and fluffy in an unironic and sexy way, feels part of the “visual activism” Candy says she aspires to do by centering queer bodies and stories. She enlisted a crew of visual artists, none of whom had done it before either, and it was, she says, “the most therapeutic, bizarre and creatively fulfilling thing I’ve ever done. Making that porn, I felt like I was living in harmony, like it was my purpose. I’m already talking about making a sequel.”

My Sex is out now via
WonderSound Records