Brooke Candy: On Sexuality, Empowerment and Music
Brooke Candy knows how to make an impression. Her first video, “Das Me”, introduced her to the world as an unapologetic, foul-mouthed daughter of a man who made millions selling women’s bodies. Today she’s still unapologetic and with her bleach blonde braids, she shows no sign of stopping.
Photography Jacob Dekat
Creative direction Prince Chenoa
In one word, who is Brooke Candy?
You gained a lot of notoriety when you collaborated with Grimes, how did that come about?
We met at a party and our energy meshed well. A few days later she asked me to be in her video.
Do you think the music industry as a whole has been accepting of your music?
I think the music industry will always be a little resistant to change, at least initially, but it’s hard to deny a movement and such a strong response from a community that feels a lack of mainstream representation. I’m also someone who likes to change and evolve rapidly, so my music is following suit. I never want to be stagnant, I’ll always find new ways to express myself.
What do you think is wrong with the music industry today?
I think something that could stand to change a little within the industry is the resistance toward things that aren’t immediately digestible or so cookie-cutter. There’s room for all of us to express ourselves and shine. I feel no competition with anyone, so why would I conform myself to be like anyone else in this industry? All of us shining separately and fully expressing ourselves will result in greater success for all of us.
Where do you find your inspiration, both from a music and style point of view?
I draw inspiration from all the iconic things that struck a chord with me growing up. I have so much going on in my brain at any given moment, it’s not surprising that my style is a mash-up of so many cultures and aesthetics. I am constantly inspired by things I recall randomly and so many subcultures that I relate to.
Your style has been called “stripper-meets-Tumblr,” what do you say to that?
I think that was said a long time ago…
How did the collaboration come about with Diesel?
Nicola is such an amazing, creative, and cool person. He reached out to me when he became Diesel’s creative director, because he saw a whole new vision for Diesel and the way it could be relevant and re-branded. I think the way that I have sort of re-invigorated and re-envisioned the music and online community, he is doing with fashion and branding and it’s really an honor to be connected with him, professionally and personally.
Who has been the biggest influence in your music sound growing up?
At this point it’s a cliche, but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t sonically inspired by Lil Kim. She was a major influence on everything. I also really respect and enjoy Madonna.
You’ve said that ‘Das Me’ is your mission statement, how have you and your mission evolved since its 2010 release?
Das Me came out in Oct 2012, and I feel that I still hold strong with the sentiments stated in that song. I don’t feel the need to press my agenda so openly in each song now. I’m glad that was the initial statement that most people saw from me because I am gladly and openly supportive of the cultures I feel are still so misrepresented to this day, including strong, sexually-empowered women, and homosexuals.
There’s a recurring theme in your music about re-appropriating the word “slut” into something empowering, why do you think that’s an important message?
It’s no secret that sexually-empowered women have a terrible reputation and have been looked down upon for centuries for enjoying the natural pleasures of sex. The double standard still exists and young women are meant to feel ashamed every day for owning every part of their womanhood. Often-times girls are called “sluts” without even being sexually promiscuous, based solely on the way they carry themselves, or express themselves. I want for there to be no shame or stigma attached to that word because it isn’t negative to be sexually expressive or carry yourself with confidence.
You also use the words “fag” and “faggot” pretty loosely, especially in ‘Das Me’, do you feel the same way about those words?
Yes, absolutely. Another word that’s used as an insult, but generally just means gay. There’s no shame or stigma or negativity in being gay. I think if I use that word freely it will destigmatize it and no longer carry the weight it once had.
Why music? What made you chose this medium to make your voice heard?
The music has received the biggest response thus far, but I will continue to make my voice heard in as many mediums as I can. I initially garnered a bit of attention for the photos I took for my blog of myself and my friends and the things we did naturally, that others found fascinating. I am a visually creative person and I plan on growing and expressing myself through film and music videos and as many mediums as I’m inspired by.
Do you think the culture of status and excess in LA has any influence in your work?
I can’t consciously say that Los Angeles has had a major influence in my work, but I will continue to incorporate themes of excess, classism, and conspicuous spending in my art because I think that’s a generally relatable subject and something that deserves to be spoken on.
Your father was the CFO of Hustler, you grew up in a relatively well to do family outside of LA, how has your youth effected what you do?
I grew up with an interesting dichotomy because I was aware at a young age of what my fathers business was and saw the imagery of sexually provocative women, while being reprimanded and oppressed by my parents, who still to this day don’t fully understand the way that I’ve chosen to express myself. My father looked at pornography as a way to make money and doesn’t understand it’s artistic and cultural relevance.
What was it like shooting Playboy, what made you want to participate in this playboy calendar?
It was an amazing experience, I love working with Terry and Nicola. Knowing that those two were running the show and the way that they trust me and I trust them, made me want to participate. Also Playboy is f***ing iconic, why would I not want to do it?
I heard you stripped for eight months, how did you feel the first time you got up there?
I felt extremely anxious the first time I stripped. It was the first time I was onstage and got a taste of the power you hold when all eyes are on you and you’re up on the pedestal. However, stripping is very different from performing music. As a stripper, you and the audience are merely objectifying one another. All the guys see is your body, and all you see is their wallets.
Was it for the money or the thrill?
Both, honestly. I was in major need of cash at the time, and I knew at that point that I wanted to be a performer. It was amazing training for being comfortable with myself and learning to hold an audience’s attention.
What was your stripper name?
My real name: Brooke Candy.
5 best female rap songs of all time
Crime Mob – Stilettos Pumps
Missy Elliott – The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)
Remy Ma – Conceited
Nicki Minaj – Itty Bitty Piggy
Lady of Rage – Afro Puffs
Lil Kim – Queen Bitch
(I know that’s 6, but whatever.)
Lil Kim VS Foxy Brown?
Long term, where do you see yourself?
I see myself being someone who has empowered a lot of people and spoken on topics that I feel are not represented fully. I am someone with a voice, and that’s a f***ing powerful thing.
Interview by Max McCormack
Stylist Brett Bailey
Makeup Sammy Mourabit
Nails by Madeline Poole
Hair Melinda Miller Rider