AN AFTERNOON WITH CAROLINE VREELAND
photographed by JOSH REED. interviewed by EMILY MARUCCI.
You’re a fashion, pretty things, Cali, instagram lover and you happen to fall into the laps of @carolinevreeland. At glance, you have a little envy. In the first chapter, you find out she’s the Diana Vreeland’s great granddaughter (if you don’t know who Diana is, then stop reading this immediately, or while you’re at it, just exit out of the website completely). In the second chapter you’re like… How does she look like that with no makeup? With golden cheekbones and a set of eyes that are from god’s ocean. In the third chapter, she goofs around with a face mask on, she kisses one of her hot friends, and sits nude with a bag of astronaut icecream covering her lovely bits. In chapter three you see her boyfriend. We’re not even going to go there. Finally, you hear her sing. And a bunch of expletives are going through your mind. FUCK, you think. Where did this girl come from? She’s is like a cigarette, addicting and a little naughty. Meet Caroline Vreeland.
EVER GIRL SHOULD HAVE…
Yonce blasting in the car. Sex appeal. Confidence. A good pair of black boots. Flowers in the house. A stack of books by the bed. An appreciation for being alone sometimes.
DESCRIBE DIANA VREELAND IN THREE WORDS.
Caroline Vreeland: Bold, feisty, enigmatic, modern, quotable, inspired, red, formidable, larger than life (couldn’t contain me with just three).
WAS THERE ONE THING ABOUT HER THAT YOU THOUGHT…. I’M GONNA BE THAT WAY WHEN I GROW UP?
Growing up, Diana’s mother told her she was ugly and useless compared to her more beautiful sister. She didn’t let that stunt her growth. She knew that in order to make something of herself she had to love herself and make herself into the woman she wanted to be. She married the most handsome, eligible man in New York and turned her life into what can only be classified as a fashion fairytale.
Diana never took no for an answer and was always leagues ahead of anyone else in her field. She was the first woman to ever put a bikini on a model in a fashion magazine. She invented the word “pizazz.” She was famous for saying: “It is better to be vulgar than boring.”
In my writing and my music, I’m following this same format. I want to be a pioneer woman, in that, I don’t let the stigmas of Hollywood or the music industry taint or compromise my passions. It’s in my blood.
WHEN YOU WERE A CHILD YOU DREAMED YOU WOULD GROW UP TO BE…
A singer. I never had any doubt. I did a play in school when I was six where my character was “The Wind.” I made the best, most realistic, spooky wind sound into the mic.
At age eight, I showed up to my first ever voice lesson with my audition song being Fiona Apple’s “Sleep to Dream.” (I laugh now because, if you know that song, you know how aggressive the lyrics are for an eight year old. “I tell you how I feel but you don’t care / I say tell me the truth but you don’t dare / You say love is a hell you cannot bear / And I say gimme mine back and then go there for all I care.”)
AMERICAN IDOL. ANY WORDS ABOUT THAT?
A very humbling, interesting experience. To hear Mariah, Nicki, Keith, and Randy all say “yes!” to me in my audition was powerful. I then got disqualified for already having filmed a pilot for a reality show when I was 21 that never aired, in which Ryan Seacrest was the creator.
Apparently the contestants are not allowed to know/have worked with/have signed contracts with anyone who works on or with Idol. I also quickly realized what American Idol audiences want: a green, fresh-off-the-Kentucky-farm newbie who they can transform into a superstar; glamorous makeover included. I don’t fit that prototype, as I live in L.A. already, have worked with many producers and songwriters, have an album under my belt, etc.
THE BIGGEST STRUGGLE YOU’VE HAD BEING A MUSICIAN.
Not being taken seriously. Not being loved for being odd or obscure. Not having my dad’s support whatsoever. Being obsessed with having to express myself through my deepest fears and insecurities and not having people get that or care. Knowing that in order to get people to care about my music I have to show them exactly who I am and what I stand for, when that changes and evolves almost every day.
All these things are difficult, but the most challenging of all has to be the battle between writing what comes from my heart and what makes me unique vs. what actually sells or could play on the radio. I’m not Katy Perry. I’m Fiona Apple.
WHAT DO YOU DO BEFORE YOUR PERFORM. ARE YOU THINKING A THOUSAND THINGS?
I talk to my sister Alex, hide in the bathroom, drink a scotch, and laugh at my drummer, Jerren, while he does his pre-show pushups backstage.
TELL US ABOUT THE SONG “A WARNING.”
I wrote “A Warning” as a sort of backhanded ode to men. Fiona’s song “Fast as You Can” was an inspiration for the theme of this song. I’m warning them I’m not right in the head and they’ll get hurt if they start to love me.
YOUR SONG UNWELL IS FUCKIN’ RAD.
“Unwell” is a unique song in that it may be the only song I’ve ever written that didn’t spawn from a specific real incident I went through in my life. I wrote it after reading Haruki Murakami’s (my fave author) The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles as a reaction to the idea of being stuck down in a well, which happens to the hero. It fascinated me to think about being trapped down there, hopeless, in the complete darkness, waiting the sun to align with the opening so that I would feel heat and light for just 15 glorious seconds — and then it would be gone. When I started writing the lyrics, my drummer, Jerren, came over with wine and beat boxed to it and that’s how we created the backbone for the sound.
WHO ARE YOU COLLABORATING WITH RIGHT NOW THAT’S REALLY INSPIRING YOU?
I’m starting an interesting project with another female artist who I really admire. You will know more about it very soon, as we’ve been hitting the ground hard since the top of the new year to make it all take flight. All I can say for now is it will be very sexy, very feminine, and a bit dark. I love joining forces with other beautiful, strong, powerful women, especially when it benefits a good cause!
JUST TO GET TO KNOW YOU A LITTLE BETTER. CHOOSE ONE MUSICIAN THAT YOU THINK HAS THE MOST TALENT:
A) RAY CHARLES
B) LADY GAGA
C) CAROLE KING
Ray Charles by a landslide.
WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW?
Yonce, Fiona Apple The Idler Wheel, Yeezus, an Afrocubism mix, King Krule, Jeff Buckley Sketches for my Sweetheart the Drunk and “The Idiot” by Dostoevsky book on tape.
WHAT DID YOU THINK ABOUT THE MOMENT YOU WOKE UP TODAY?
Upon gaining consciousness: “I’m sooo lucky to be having a kick-ass writing session tonight with a musician I’ve admired for a long time” and upon rolling over: “Gosh, my boyfriend looks yummy…!
DESCRIBE YOUR STYLE TO US.
Black, leather, anything black that covers my giant boobs, high boots. Snake rings, bracelets, and body chains. I love snakes. I love Helmut Lang and Barbara Bui and IRO. Recently I’ve loved wearing baggy silk pants with pointy toe boots and baggy sweaters tucked in. I have two ivory cuffs of my great-grandmothers that I consider a signature piece.
TELL US HOW YOU GET YOUR SKIN LIKE THAT. MAN WE ARE JELLY.
Nothing makes me happier than having you ask. I’m obsessed with skin. I try to never wear makeup unless I’m doing something super fancy. My face wash situation is Trader Joe’s Teatree Oil Cleanser with my Clairsonic. I never pop my zits until they are literally coming out of their own volition. Sick but true.
I use NeoStrata products and SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic serum. And tons of sunscreen even when it’s cloudy out. Even with no makeup I always use RMS Beauty Living Luminizer on my cheekbones because it makes me feel like a wet-faced Norwegian ice queen (which is obviously always the desired effect). I also swear by the ultimate non-acne solution: birth control. Always have aquaphor and Mario Badescu rose water facial spray on you at all times.
YOU’RE SURROUNED BY A LOT OF HOT PEOPLE. WHAT’S UP WITH THAT? I MEAN, WE ARE OBSESSED WITH YOU. JEN A GO GO. ETC ETC. THE LIST GOES ON.
All my friends are dope, right? Not only are they all gorgeous, they’re funny, clever, and loving. I feel really fortunate to have such quality babes in my life! We’re also all completely insane and need a reality show documenting that madness, like… yesterday.
HOW’S ROOMING WITH BLOGGER PEACE LOVE SHEA? DO YOU RAID HER CLOSET?
Shea is one of the most generous people in the world. And we have the exact same shoe size!!! So I got lucky. She’s clean as hell and works her ass off. She’s a wonderful roommate, inspiring friend, and we are closer than sisters.
WHAT ARE YOU DRINKING TONIGHT?
Red wine always, never white. At least a glass a night. Usually at a bar accompanied by my book and a plate of spaghetti. Scotch when I sing.
CAN WE TALK ABOUT HOW AWESOME THAT STORY OF YOU KISSING KANYE IS?
All I can say is I am the biggest fan of him. He’s beyond talented, other-world type shit. When we met I was convinced he was my soulmate. Turns out we had no chemistry whatsoever. The kiss came close but never transpired. [Laughs.]
HEELS OR RAD SNEAKERS?
Heels. Barbara Bui.
BLACK OR PATTERNS?
Black on black. Besides, anything else would clash with my giant Taiwanese teddy bear phone cover.
L.A. SUCKS BECAUSE…
People here will always try to hurt you.
L.A. RULES BECAUSE…
My mom lives in Santa Monica.
THE STUPIDEST THING A DUDE HAS EVER SAID TO YOU?
I dated a very wealthy man for about four years of my life. He told me I shouldn’t work. That was pretty fucking ridiculous. I take pride in making my own money. Bottom line. It was outrageous to me that someone so close to me could be so out of touch with my reality. (YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE.) That was definitely the nail in the coffin for us, but I can thank him for inspiring my song “Serial Killer.”
ANY ADVICE FOR SHK ABOUT LIFE IN GENERAL?
I’m learning to forgive. It’s so fucking hard.
I grew up wondering why my father never wanted to be a part of my life. As a result, in most of my relationships, I find myself waiting for people to say sorry for wronging me. I’m slowly realizing that that yearning is in vain. I need to be the bigger person, forgive, and move forward in my life. I’m still learning all this. Literally as we speak. Today. I want to be able to completely forgive my father for his negligence and reluctance to accept the pain he has caused me, and learn to fully forgive, while vowing to love him going forward as a man who isn’t able to be a great father, but will still be the only dad I ever have.
this article was produced & written in 01.2014.