Go behind the scenes on our Kacey Musgraves cover shoot
The news is out. The 21st century’s greatest country star, Kacey Musgraves, has announced that her next album, star-crossed, will finally land on 10 September alongside an accompanying film.
Musgraves detailed some elements of the long-awaited project in our August cover story, walking writer Douglas Greenwood through star-crossed‘s compact, two-and-a-half-week recording process, as well as the psychedelic experiences and heavy personal events that inspired the record. “My last album is what people know me for,” Musgraves told us. “They see me as this starry-eyed, rose-coloured glasses kinda girl; the Golden Hour girl. Well, here I come with a post-divorce album, bursting the fucking bubble.”
On reflection, the interview is full of Easter eggs and cryptic clues about star-crossed. It’s also illustrated by a blockbuster shoot which weaves in various themes from the cinematic full-length project. Ahead of its release, we spoke to the incredible crew who brought our cover to life to talk MTV, LA skylines and a certain floral shirt worn by both Musgraves and our favourite on-screen Romeo, Leonardo DiCaprio.
© Nick Walker
Shoes: Andrea Wazen
Earrings: Melinda Maria
Cross ring: Dru
Chain ring: Walters Faith
Kacey Musgraves has been in my orbit for about two years. A friend put me on to her and I really loved how well she was doing it and also what she brought to the table. Kacey does things different in my opinion, and I admire that.
As a photographer, I really love creating worlds that complement each artist so that everything feels connected. Granted, this was an editorial – and not an album asset – but I still wanted it to have some meaning to her as well. I knew of some of the inspiration she had going into her next project and wanted to try to incorporate that into this shoot. Romeo and Juliet and Greek tragedy were the main buzzwords, so I thought: ‘regal, ornate, cheeky, raw’. You have Kacey on the church set with the Romeo vibes, and then Juliet vibes out in the garden. It’s loose but I’m really happy with how everything looks. In fact, these are some of my favourite pictures that I’ve ever taken. Each set-up has its own vibe and character tone to it. Some more subtle than others, but in the end it feels like a nice little journey. In general, my goal in any shoot is to show someone in a different light. Whether that’s with actual light or with the images showcasing them in a way we haven’t seen before.
What is it about shooting musicians that I find inspiring? Well, when I was young I would listen to songs and think of imagery that would go with it, or some type of action that would look really rad with music playing in the background. At the end of the day, music has always been something that I’m really into, so it makes sense that I ended up in the music industry to some capacity. Even though I don’t play any instruments… well. Though on set, Kacey was the DJ. I don’t remember what it was playing but it was cracking. It was so cracking, in fact, that I was dancing while shooting and actually all the images are blurry!
Kacey and her whole team were such a pleasure for real – I’m not just saying that. I think everyone was excited to make something rad and have a good time doing it. Nothing was really out of the norm on shoot day. The only thing that was different was that I usually run ten miles in the morning before every shoot that I do, but that morning I was running and the sun was cresting over the Los Angeles skyline. I picked up the pace and did an additional five miles. I guess I was just stoked for the shoot!
© Giovanni Delgado
Stylist and costume designer
When pulling looks for the cover story, I was looking for a fresh take on classic pieces and a bit of cinematic inspiration. The overall aesthetic that I was looking to convey was that you are every character in your own story. You are Romeo, you are Juliet; you can be a sinner and a saint. No one is just one role in their own personal narrative, especially someone as multidimensional as Kacey. I wanted to have a range of aesthetics because Kacey doesn’t have just one style. I looked for cool, sexy, pretty and dramatic. She likes to have fun with clothing and mix it up.
I sourced Leonardo DiCaprio’s shirt from [Baz Luhrmann’s 1996 movie] Romeo + Juliet a while ago for her, and this felt like the time to debut it with the contrasting Moschino Juliet-style dress. I love that it shows her diversity in being able to pull off a fitted, corseted gown as well as a casual button-down and workwear pant. I added subtle accessories that are a nod to the album and the shoot. Ranging from heart earrings and pendants to arrow charms, cross rings and chains. I love adding in small details that contribute to the overall story – even if people never notice them! Overall, Nick Walker created a great, easy set and we all had a fun day.
© Erica Cloud
Celebrity makeup artist
Our general inspiration for Kacey’s look on the day was a gentle nod to 90s makeup with tonal elements staying in the brown, bone and nude colour palette. We always have a working mood board as well, but it shifts and changes by the minute going into the shoot, as well as during the shoot. Kacey is a wonderful creative spirit and beautiful chameleon of makeup, so her look shifted and took on different forms and iterations based on the vibe of the shoot overall. We also took cues directly from styling, the overall concept and, in particular, the photographer’s lighting. The shoot day was wonderfully chill and the entire LA crew were amazing. Photographer Nick Walker is a dream to work with and set designer Justin Fry created such a beautiful mood in the space. It was a joy to work with them.
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© Giovanni Delgado
For Kacey’s hair on the day, we really were inspired by the clothing Erica had brought and the set itself – the church. That really set the tone. We’re very inspired by nostalgia as well, so I wanted to channel a bit of a 90s MTV look: bubble ponies and fun, spiky party hair. In terms which products I used on the day, Oribe is a staple in my kit. The ingredients are very nourishing to the hair – every product is essentially a conditioning treatment; definitely the way to get glossy ‘glass’ hair. Overall, the shoot was a blast! I love how we bounced ideas off of each other – it made everything so fun.
© Giovanni Delgado