“I Want To Have A Different Impact” Brooke Candy Interviewed

"I've lived now, and everything just rolls off my back..."

Brooke Candy is pop at its most raw, an outsider voice who represents a new frontier in sex-positive expression. A lawless pan-genre renegade who leaves her fans tied up in knots, 2019 album ‘SEXORCISM’ was an extraordinary achievement, but it’s just the start.

Having worked with such luminaries as Charli XCX, Rico Nasty and SOPHIE, she’s proved her worth countless times over – now she’s ready to claim her moment. New single ‘SAFEWORD’ is a crunching return, with Brooke Candy blasting apart the barriers. With her searing vocal – “fuck me ’til I’m hysterical…” – and future-pop thrills, this is a pristine pop booster that is primed to detonate on impact.

Out now, it comes equipped with a riveting, ultra-raw new video, one that highlights different facets of Brooke Candy’s being.

Clash writer Sasha Mills caught up with Brooke Candy for a no-holds-barred conversation.

Clash: Let’s start by talking about the SAFEWORD visuals. I know that you’ve directed in the past. Is that the case with the visuals for this music video?

Brooke Candy: Actually, my husband directed this one. 

Clash: Have you worked with him in that kind of capacity before?

Brooke: I haven’t. It was very exciting for both of us. It was our first time collaborating. We’ve done tattoos together, but tattooing is such a singular practice. This was our first time truly making something together – it was very fun.

Clash: What motivated that decision – why did you want to do that now?

Brooke: I wanted to try it, because I value his opinion so much. I think he has such a great aesthetic, and I find myself going to him pretty regularly asking for advice on what I make, and he’s usually the deciding factor for me if I’m stuck. So it seemed pretty natural to finally ask him to make something for me. 

We never wanted to cross that boundary, and we do have quite different aesthetics. He comes from a very different background, and so maybe in the past, it didn’t even really make sense. But now I think with my new music, and the new path that I’m hoping to take, it makes a bit more sense. 

He comes from a fine art background, and I wanted something that felt more effortless and cool, and not so camp, which is something I’ve gotten stuck in in the past – being a little bit too camp. Some people would say you can’t ever be too camp, but I think I might have been (laughs). 

Clash: You gestured towards changing direction a bit. What can you tell me about that, and what’s inspiring that shift?

Brooke: I’m trying to shed a few things right now, and trying to welcome in a few others. Mainly, I want to be more digestible and accessible. I think I’ve pigeonholed myself to be this hypersexual, campy, kooky, artist. And that’s not really how I feel anymore.

I want this new era in my life to be a bit more true to who I feel I am at this moment in my life, and I want the music to be less crass, and more like what I listen to, which is pop music. I want everything to be happy, and dance-y, and more accessible for everyone. I want everybody to get enjoyment from it.

With the visuals, I want to be a little more toned down and chill, and more – beautiful, I guess? – rather than crass, and shocking, and camp, which is what I’ve done my whole life. I’m ready now, because I’m getting older, to just try something new. It feels more honest to move in that direction.

Clash: It sounds like quite a deep shift. It’s not just about presenting a new version of your work, but it sounds like you’re experiencing an emotional shift as well. 

Brooke: Totally. I’ve definitely had a lot of time to think about my journey and my path as an artist, and my imprint on society. I’ve been reflecting over the past year or two, and I want to have a different impact. It’s definitely emotional – I was going to stay spiritually, but really I mean that I feel more in tune with that direction. It is just much more honest, for the path that I’m on.

I’m honestly a very boring person. I’m quiet, I don’t go out, I keep to myself, I do my tattoos, I play with my dogs. I’m very low key and not wild, I’m not crazy. In my twenties I was a slut, but I’m not a slut anymore. I’m in a committed relationship. So I want to tone down my past persona just slightly, so that it can feel a little more reflective of that.

Clash: You mentioned that you want to make music that feels like the music that you listen to. What are you listening to at the moment, who’s in your rotation?

Brooke: My biggest inspiration in life and work has always been Madonna, but I have never reflected that properly at all. When I first started to make music, it was also Lil’ Kim because I was in my rap phase then. But I’ve always had an obsession with Madonna. I think now more than ever, I’m trying to get that reference down. 

Me and my husband, we love Caroline Polachek. We tattoo to her music all of the time. She’s so cool, it’s just the perfect music to listen to doing pretty much anything – driving, swimming, hanging out at the beach. We love her.

Clash: You touched on just now your tattooing practice. I’m really interested in that. Do you feel that music and tattooing are separate creative practices, or do they feed into each other? I can’t think of many people that do both.

Brooke: Actually, I have an interesting fact. Devendra Banhart – he’s a folk musician – someone just told me that he does tattoos now. I thought that was so cool. It’s so rare, you never hear of many artists that do both – of course, Frank Carter does – but it’s rare. 

They definitely do not have anything in common. The practices couldn’t be more different. They’re total opposites, and they don’t play into each other. But I have learned valuable life lessons from tattooing, that I’ve carried through into every aspect of my life and my music. It’s taught me to be more focused, it’s taught me mindfulness. With my music now, I’m taking my time and there’s no rush. And I’m much more focused on the fine details of it. I was never like that in the past, and tattooing brough that out in me.

Clash: Your last album came out in 2019. Are you planning on putting out a full-length album this year? 

Brooke: I’m hoping to put it out in May. I’m not sure of the exact date yet, but we are in the final stages of wrapping up most of the music for it. And I have some pretty amazing collaborations, and some pretty amazing producers I’ve worked with. 

Clash: Is what we’ve seen with SAFEWORD representative of the direction of the album – what does the overall sound look like?

Brooke: Totally. I’d say SAFEWORD is the dirtiest song on the album, but I’d say it’s quintessential pop, and it has that old Britney vibe to it. I want to be able to talk about the next single, but I feel like if I say anything I’m going to jinx it. But the person that wrote it, she’s a pop goddess. So that’s my little hint.

Clash: SAFEWORD, for me it’s the kind of song I want to hear when I go out. It makes me want to dance. Is that how you see it? Tell me a little more about the track.

Brooke: Yeah, that’s what I was aiming for. It’s definitely the type of song that you want to pregame to, you want to listen to in the cab on the way to the club, it’s like pure fun, pure party. It’s also a song that I find myself dancing to, feeling sexy to, even when I’m alone. Looking in the mirror, you just want to sing it to yourself, feeling tough and sexy alone in your house. 

Clash: I hadn’t considered the Britney reference before, but this single does actually remind me of her.

Brooke: Like Blackout, her rebellious moment.

Clash: One thing I’ve always been interested in is how you style and present yourself. How do you feel like that fits into your wider work?

Brooke: The beauty and the styling is so important to me. I try to vocalise that I do my own styling, and most of my own creative direction. For me, it’s such an important form of self expression. That’s where I can really express myself the most, because the music is always so collaborative, but the styling is a true reflection of me. The glam looks as well, because I’ve always felt like a shapeshifter, and I feel like being able to transform is what really gets me in my character and makes me able to get on stage and be this performer.

Being able to play with looks and express myself in that way, it’s my favourite part of this whole journey. 

Clash: Do you plan to tour with this album?

Brooke: Oh yeah, definitely. I have an EU tour being planned, and then my first ever US tour. I’ve done little tour blurbs, I toured with CupcakKe for a while, and Charli XCX, but it was just for little legs. I’m pretty excited.

Clash: I imagine styling, and visual expression, that must be a very exciting part of the tour process for you.

Brooke: I love doing the live performances because I conceptualise the costumes for me and for my dancers, then I’ll do all the styling, pulling looks, having the custom looks made. And then we’ll do the choreography and the set design. And it’s all kind of a way for me to just create and express myself. So it’s very fun. I love it.

Clash: You’re like a one woman creative team. That’s amazing. Not many people can do all of those different things.

Brooke: Thank you. You know what it is? It’s because I’m a control freak. I can’t hand it over, I have to do it. I can’t let other people have control, I have to be in charge.

Clash: Is there anything else about the album, and this world that you’re creating, that you’d like to share?

Brooke: It’s going to be really colourful, really fresh, and I’m going to try to create work that is different from what I’ve made in the past, even more beautiful and exciting than anything I’ve created before. I’m very proud of the music. I think the music is the best music I’ve ever made. So I’m very, very excited to share it. In the past, maybe I haven’t been so sure, if I’m making anything good, and then I just don’t have much confidence. But I feel very confident about this. So I know that, at least the core fans, I think will really dig it too. 

Clash: It sounds like you’re coming from a real place of positivity, and almost peace about it.

Brooke: One hundred percent. And I think also just with age. I’m thirty four and I feel that I’ve had some crazy trials and tribulations in my life. I’ve been doing this since I was twenty two, and in the very beginning, I was thrust into a space that was very intense. I signed a record deal right away, and I had access to so much success. And it was actually very scary, and I didn’t know how to handle anything. 

I’ve lived now, and everything just rolls off my back. I don’t take anything too seriously. I just want to have a good time, I want to spread positivity, and make things that are beautiful, that make people happy. At the end of the day, nothing matters. My legacy might ot be remembered at all. So at least while I’m here, I want to enjoy myself and make people enjoy themselves. There’s no reason to be so heavy.

I love artists that are emotional, because they’re so important as well. And those artists have been central to me at different moments in my life, but I think right now I’m more carefree, and I just want to express that.

Words: Sasha Mills

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