Brooke Candy is a rising LA rap artist who has become the new darling of the hipster magazines owing to her new EP, Opulence. She’s out to prove she’s more than a passing fancy in the savage world of hip-hop. Here, she talks frankly with Lucy Lawless about her attitudes to sex and sexuality and its influences on her music.
Brooke, Why is "slut" now a compliment?
That message from early on was about a word that is negative that needs to be like, neutralised. Words are dangerous, the most dangerous thing on the planet because we give them so much power. I wanted to reclaim them and take all the power away from anyone who wants to hurt us with those words. Every generation of women since the 60s has felt the need to re-authorise the sexual revolution. As a woman of 24 years old, why is sexual empowerment such an overriding theme in your work?
It goes back to being younger, being tormented for my sexual preference and having sex in general. When I was in high school, I was bullied a lot and I wasn't even promiscuous but I was called a whore, slut, all these things, and I feel it's important for women to feel it's okay to do what they want when they wish. I feel it's a double standard and I feel like it f***ing always will be. I was watching this show where this woman sets people up on dates and she was saying, you know, as a woman you can't have sex with a man on the first date if you want him to court you the next day, and this and that. And to me that doesn't make sense because what she's saying is that every man wants to have sex on the first date but you can't. But why can't a woman have sex on the first date?! Women are held down. Women are repressed and we don't even realise it.
Q. That woman that you're talking about, is she in her mid-40s?
You know that was a product of the 90s, I would guess, and there was a book that went round like wildfire called The Rules.
My mom read it, and she told me to read it. So I did and it's demented - total bullshit. It's about suppressing everything that feels natural - like suppressing every feeling that would make a woman feel good. And it's like "oh, in the long run, if you do all these things that are oppressive, you'll be happy". No, I don't believe in that!
Q. There is a real edge in your messaging. Is there anger in it?
Oh, yeah, there's anger in all of it. I think that's the basis for someone who wants to revolutionise something or spawn change. I've got a fiery feeling in my gut. And my way of expressing my anger is through art and through music. I don't think it's bad though, I think it's good. I'd rather feel angry than feel nothing at all.
Q. How did you come to be living in your car?
I was kicked out [of home]. It was at night too, which is the worst. And I had this little Honda and it blew up on the freeway. It was cold and shitty and they said get the [f***] out. I didn't have a lot of time and so I left in the middle of the night ... It was about two years ago. And then for eight months I lived out of my car or stayed with friends and during that time I learned how to hustle, so it was pretty awesome. I look for the positives in a situation that might be looked at as negative ...
So basically I was kicked out and told by my family I wasn't loved and that taught me how to survive. And I found my own family of people that loved me for who I was. And that's really special too; people don't realise that you can form your own family and especially in the gay community that's a common theme. It's a common theme for gay people to be ostracised and looked down upon and abused and neglected so they find solace in other gay people who feel the same or just anyone who is open and kind, and it's really uplifting.
Q. So is that why you were kicked out - for your sexual orientation?
Yeah, I held it in for years and then it just blurted out. And now, the more I read and expand my mind and the more I search for knowledge, the less I care about my sexual orientation or anything that I used to believe I had to be one thing or the other. Now I feel that whoever I love, I'm going to love! That's why so many gay people are over-achievers, because they've always been told their whole life they're not the right kind of human being. Now I feel I don't put myself in a box. When I was young, I put myself in a box because I was afraid, then I put myself in another box because I thought "okay, this is who I am". But now I don't put myself in any box. It doesn't matter to me and it shouldn't matter to anyone else.
You don't have to claim anything, to explain, to do anything. It's no one's business. Who you fall in love with is not a person's anatomy, it's a mind and a soul. Relationships only last if you're mentally stimulated.
Q. Are you in a relationship at the moment?
No. Right now I don't want to be in one because I just want to work. I had a lot of people come to court me ... and the more visible I become, the more people pop out of the woodwork and they try to court me and I push it away now without even realising it because it's distracting. And I feel that when you fall for someone you fall into them completely, and you can kind of lose yourself in that and when you lose yourself it's really hard to focus on anything else.
Q. You performed at Perez Hilton's birthday. Do you like to perform live?
Oh, I love it. It's my favourite thing. It's the best natural high. The adrenalin before and after makes you feel like you can do anything.
Q. In a year and a half, the budgets of your videos have skyrocketed. Your new EP, Opulence, looks like a tribute to more-is-more. What's it about? Is it truly a celebration of wallowing in excess?
No, it's about the exact opposite. My new theory is that the glitter and the colours in the amount of imagery, it feels like you're being slapped in the face the entire time. So many interesting things to look at, they draw you in. And the hope in making it was that you'd look deeper; it's really about how excess leads to emptiness and soullessness and a feeling of becoming some sort of monster. The lust for wealth and power and sex and all these things, they don't fill any kind of a void. In fact, they make an existing void that much greater.
Q. I like that you're not being satirical in not making a joke and not being ironic. I think you're expressing something that is real to you and to people your age, but I've gotta tell you it looks kind of scary to us who grew up with the dawning of Aids. Do you get some flak from people who read your 2012 song Das Me as promoting promiscuity?
People may think I was being irresponsible [for] promoting sex but not promoting protection, or whatever. But it's a f***ing rap hip-hop song, there's only so many themes you can express in one and I was trying to start the conversation. I think it's constructive. Though nowadays, my London friends say there's this trend where girls sleep around and say they're feminists but when asked, can't explain it. So the whole concept is getting lost.
Q. What scares you?
What scares me? Nothing. Nothing! I'm just as happy now as when I was homeless. And at that time I felt I had nothing to lose and I still feel like I've nothing to lose so I don't fear a thing.