Pretty, tough-girl rapper Eve won a Grammy Award in 2002 for her Ruff Ryders collaboration with Gwen Stefani, and her hit album, Eve-Olution, came out the same year. (For the record, Eve should have two Grammys; she was featured on the Roots song “You Got Me,” which won a Grammy in 2000, but she somehow never received a statuette.) Early success aside, the Philadelphia native known for her lyrical swagger and her sharp partnerships with DMX, Alicia Keys, Ludacris, and Lil Jon has been fairly quiet over the past decade. Her collaborative spirit is plenty alive, though; Eve is so into working with other talented musicians that last year she started uploading homemade remixes to YouTube with her rhymes over existing hits by Rihanna, Brandy, Miguel, and other unwitting costars. This month she invited legends such as Missy Elliott and Snoop Dogg to make cameos on her veritable comeback album, Lip Lock. Here, she talks about eponymous songs, the purse she can’t put down, and crazy-detailed nail art.
This month you performed with the Roots on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. How was it to reunite with them?
It was amazing. They’re so incredible. Most of them I’ve known since I was 15 years old!
The new album is called Lip Lock—why?
My lips are my favorite feature—they’re fun, flirty.
So is your favorite beauty product lipstick, then?
[It's] Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream. [It's] the best thing ever. I put it all over my face on long flights, to keep my skin moisturized. If I’m breaking out, I put it on, and the next day it’s taken the inflammation down. I also use it on cuticles and lips, small cuts—it’s a miracle cream.
If you spent much of your time as a 14-year-old going to raves and staying out until 6 A.M.—with your parents, no less—you might have also wound up spending your later years in rehab, not topping the pop charts. But don’t tell that to British hitmaker Charli XCX. The well-adjusted 20-year-old and the voice behind the song that is currently stuck in our heads, a collaboration with Icona Pop called “I Love It (I Don’t Care)” (Girls watchers will remember the jam from the dance-party scene during Hannah’s short-lived cocaine addiction), Charli—short for Charlotte—is a different kind of pop princess. Accented by mounds of black eyeliner, punky lyrics, and midriff-baring T-shirts, her sound isn’t so much candy-coated as rich with rhythm-backed synth riffs that are immediately catchy. As for the XCX bit, “it was part of my MSN screen name when I was 13, and it kind of stuck,” she told us when we caught up with her in the middle of a tour in support of True Romance, her debut album that features the addictive track, “Nuclear Seasons.” Here, the “nineties chick” at heart, talks about late-night clubbing, being inspired by Britney and Baby Spice, and her unconventional secret to the perfect dark lipstick.
How did you get into music at just 14?
As soon as I saw “Hit Me Baby (One More Time),” I knew I loved Britney and music videos, and I was in awe; it inspired me to start making music. I started writing, but it was just me kind of experimenting. I posted demos on MySpace, and a guy who ran a club in East London brought me up to play these raves. I started performing and became a regular in that scene. My parents came with me. They’d drive me and stay at the parties; usually I would play at 2 or 3 A.M. and leave at 6 A.M. At the time, I wasn’t into hanging out with my parents. We’d drive home in the morning and stop for breakfast. They were really supportive. We were always the weird family at the warehouse parties.
Um…Amazing. Why is the new album called True Romance?
All of the songs are about love and my experience with relationships and how I’ve changed my opinion on love, how the relationships have changed me. In true romance, you don’t have just walking on clouds, amazing, happy, beachy moments. To have true romance, you also have to have isolating, depressing moments of crying. The songs are about both. Some are happier and some are darker; some are pop; and others are more mysterious—and that’s what romance is like in real life. “Stay Away” is about an unhealthy obsession with someone, making yourself ill over them, but I haven’t been through that, so it’s more of an imagining.
Your Icona Pop collaboration “I Love It (I Don’t Care)” is the theme song for Snooki & Jwoww—do you watch the show?
That made me really laugh. I don’t watch the show religiously, but I’ve seen it. I think Snooki is pretty cute. They’re both hilarious.
Redheads are known for being fiery, passionate, and fickle. So it should come as no surprise that British pop star and former ginger Kate Nash eventually got sassy on her own hair, dyeing it black with platinum streaks. The impetus for the change? “Going through something personal, where you feel you need a new identity,” Nash says. The specific look came from Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains, an eighties movie about an all-girl punk band. “One girl changes her name to Third Degree Burns, and she has black hair and two blonde streaks, and she’s empowered and brave. At the time, I needed a role model like that, so I got inspired to do the same hair.” The dye job must have done the trick, because while touring to promote her new album, Girl Talk, Nash seems to have left her pop-star persona behind for an edgier rock-chick look—though she’s still the same sweetheart underneath.
Girl Talk is your third album. How was writing it different from the previous ones?
This time, I sing, play bass guitar, and drums. I was going through a difficult time in my personal life, so it felt like I purged all these songs at once. I recorded it in a month, in L.A., while staying at the Paramour Mansion. It’s a great place, with taxidermy everywhere: a polar bear, tiger, wolf, cheetah, and zebra. There’s a twenty-foot giraffe in the living room.
Your new look is like a quirky pinup girl—what appeals to you about that style?
It’s very feminine and girly, almost femme fatale, a really hot look. It’s this weird mixture of grown-up but also a Lolita vibe. I feel like I’m creating a character for myself. But I’m never going to be that person who always looks fancy; I’m really impressed by people who can do it all the time, but I don’t have the skills. I have a bit of an edgier side to me as well, so I switch between 1940s pinup and 1990s grunge. Combining feminine and trashy grunge is cool.
Your Instagram is loaded with shots of cool rings. Is that your favorite accessory?
Those rings are totally amazing, but I’m really terrible with jewelry, because I just lose it. I had this really cool ring from when I was 14, with my initials—it was kind of a gangster ring—but I lost it. So I don’t buy things that are too nice; I buy quite cheap ones, like big pink plastic ones from dollar stores, and just borrow expensive stuff (like those in the pictures) for events. I know I will lose my jewelry, so when I buy something new, I just accept that I’m not going to have it forever.
That’s so sad! You recently tweeted, “I’m obsessed with food,” but is it hard eating on the road, especially as a vegetarian?
I have to put more of an effort into looking for vegetarian or vegan restaurants; otherwise, you end up eating fries all the time. It’s really hard to eat well on the road. I constantly eat in the van, out of boredom, just stuffing myself the whole time. I like when we’re in L.A., because it’s so easy to eat healthy; I love Dusty’s Bistro, and Masa of Echo Park, which has a great salad with vegetarian chicken, Manchego, dates, and pear. Near Detroit, I love Om Cafe—I recently went and got brown rice, vegetables, and a green juice that totally rejuvenated me.
Speaking of things that inspire, what made you start Kate Nash’s Rock N Roll for Girls After School Music Club?
I found out that there are fewer female composers than males and fewer females in the music industry, generally. It’s weird and wrong and annoying. I got angry and bitter for a while, and then I was like, I need to stop being this negative person; I need to shut up about it or do something about it. You can’t change how things are right now, but if you work with kids, you can change how it will be in the future. So I started doing lyric-writing sessions, guitar lessons, and drums lessons. It turned into a self-esteem workshop, because they hated themselves and were scared to even try to do music, because they worried about being judged. It’s crazy. They went from not being able to stand in front of the class to performing at Queen Elizabeth Hall in a concert we did for eight hundred people, where they sang songs they’d written and had a girl drummer and bassist. I was so emotional about it. We’ve worked with one hundred girls so far, and I want to continue this project for the next ten years.
Metric’s Emily Haines has been in the female-frontwoman vanguard since her Toronto-based four-piece started making music together in 1998. Embracing her glamorous side, rather than downplaying it, Haines encouraged many of her sisters in rock to do the same. A fan of structured pieces and Margiela these days, Haines calls the Velvet Underground’s Lou Reed her ultimate style icon. “My friend Lou Reed pretty much invented rock-and-roll style for me. Never has a leather jacket and sunglasses looked so good!” Janelle Monáe is carrying the torch for a new generation of artist’s, according to Haines, bringing “grace and elegance” back to the stage as “a much-needed alternative to all the rest.”
To kick off a barrage of summer tour dates, Metric will open Coachella in T-minus eleven days, although Haines is no stranger to the festival circuit, of course. “I was completely transfixed,” she recalls of watching Sonic Youth perform the song “Tunic” a few years back at La Route du Rock, a summer concert series in the French countryside. “That was the first time I met Kim Gordon, and she treated me with such kindness, like she was my older sister and she had my back with the big kids.” In anticipation of the annual extravaganza in Indio, California, Haines is stocking up on Bliss Spa’s Triple Oxygen Eye Cream and plenty of Rosewater, as well as loading her iPod with tracks from Chinawoman and Lee Hazlewood for the long hours of tour-bus time that will follow. Click here for more Coachella essentials in Style.com’s Spring Beauty Guide.
Beauty And The Beat: Ra Ra Riot’s Rebecca Zeller, From Being “Too Sorority” To Becoming An Indie Darling-------
Anyone who takes up classical strings as a kid probably doesn’t count on becoming an indie rock goddess, but that’s exactly what happened to Ra Ra Riot violinist Rebecca Zeller. The group, which formed back in 2006, when she and her band mates were students at Syracuse University, enjoyed critical success within months; they played SXSW just a year later. Following another packed show at Austin’s annual music festival last weekend, the “chamber pop” quartet is currently on tour in support of its third album, Beta Love, which debuted in January and is a “sonic departure” from previous releases, according to Zeller. “The obvious change is that it’s heavier on the electronic side and not so heavy on strings, like our first two albums were,” she says. “But we’ve changed as people since we started writing songs seven years ago,” insists Zeller, “so it’s only natural the music would change as well.” Ditto Zeller’s personal style. Here, she talks occupational hazards of having long hair and playing a string instrument, bringing a little bling to the world of classical instruments, and the makeup remover wipes that are “a lifesaver” on tour.
Your sound has changed a lot since college. Has your look—both onstage and off—also evolved?
“It’s changed a lot. I remember we were playing our first shows, during our first semester in school, and the guy who used to be our singer said that I looked ‘too sorority.’ I wasn’t even in one! I thought I was dressing all cool and in-a-band style, so I was like, ‘What do you mean?’ But looking back at photos, it was very sorority: boot cut jeans, pointy high heels, a tucked in fitted tank top with a ‘fun’ belt, my hair flat ironed and pulled back on top with a little poof…”
Now your hair is really long and wavy. Does it ever get in the way when you play?
“I used to always put it up and out of my face when I played. But I like it down; it’s like another accessory. This weekend, we were playing outdoors and it was really windy, so my hair kept getting stuck between where the bow and the strings are, which was kind of annoying.”
You’re touring with a rhinestone-studded violin. How, exactly, did that come to pass?
“I own one expensive classical acoustic violin but I don’t tour with it. The two I brought with me on the road are that bedazzled one and another that’s completely covered in gold sparkles; I played on both at SouthBy. My bandmate Milo [Bonacci] has a yellow guitar, and Mat [Santos] has a black and white bass, but in the violin world, it’s all normal wood. My sister is friends with A-Morir sunglasses designer Kerin Rose, and we started having Sisters Unite dinners, and one time we talked about how crazy it would be if she bedazzled my violin, so she did that and the sparkles one. Now I’m plotting what I can do next.”
Do sparkles ever creep up on into your makeup, as well? What are you staple products while you’re on tour?
“In addition to my small, pared-down makeup bag, I bring a show makeup bag of dark, dramatic shadows and liners. SouthBy is different because the shows are daytime, and it would be ridiculous to do really heavy makeup to be outside during the day, sweating. But for normal indoor nighttime shows, I do a smoky eye. Neutrogena makeup remover wipes are a lifesaver on tour.”
What about packing? Do you bring everything you’ll need with you before getting on the bus, or do you shop as you go?
“Planning for a tour is difficult in terms of what to bring. I essentially have two suitcases—a show one, and then my daytime one with jeans and running gear. Opening the same bag every day and looking at the same items gets boring. I love to shop on the road, but I try not to go overboard; so far I’ve stopped at Topshop, and I also got a Rag and Bone dress. The best cities are New York and LA because everyone has stores there. But I always put aside money to shop the boutiques when we tour in Japan—they have the most unique things you’ll never find anywhere else.”