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Brooke Candy Miriam Marlene
Brooke CandyPhotography Miriam Marlene

Brooke Candy has entered her bubblegum pop era

As the artist shares the first taster from her upcoming second album, she gives us the lowdown on her new era, and discusses the importance of breaking taboos in our increasingly conservative culture

Last seen dominating Elon Musk in 2021’s playfully subversive NFT, Brooke Candy is back to ruffle feathers with “Flip Phone”, the first taster from her much-anticipated second album (working title: Freaky Princess).

Written with Jin Jin (Pa Salieu, Little Mix), Jesse Saint John (Britney, Kim Petras, Charli XCX) and Bobby and Lucia from Glasgow band Lucia & The Best Boys, its devilishly catchy, serrated pop brings to mind Blackout-era Britney, albeit with a suitably sex-positive twist. That message is only underscored by the song’s hot and heavy, self-directed video, which sees the avant-garde performance artist living out her Fast and Furious fantasies, writhing on cars and getting soaked in custom looks by Seth Pratt and Caroline Reznik.

Speaking from her home in LA on Labor Day, Candy gave us the lowdown on her latest era, lifted the lid on the follow-up to 2019’s SEXORCISM, and discussed the importance of breaking taboos in a climate of increasing conservatism.

‘Flip Phone’ feels like your most brazenly pop moment yet.

Brooke Candy: For sure. We were definitely going for something that felt very pop, very Britney Spears, very Y2K – which I think is a little bit different from what I’ve released in the past. I’ve had a lot of fun experimenting with new forms of pop music.

Why were you fascinated by that era?

Brooke Candy: I’ve just always loved Britney and that super bubblegum pop sound. But the more I explore pop music, the more I understand how expertly it’s crafted. And Britney’s tone and delivery is just so unique and infectious, I just wanted to try my best to create something that maybe she would enjoy.

Have you ever met Britney?

Brooke Candy: I have not. I saw her live once in Vegas with Charli [XCX] – she had gotten really good tickets, so I went as her plus one. And I was freaking out, it was so incredible. Funnily enough, Jesse [Saint John] who wrote on ‘Flip Phone’ has written a song for Britney. But yeah, I don’t know how I feel about meeting her... I just feel like she just deserves to have a lot of space, you know?

Especially after all she’s been through the past few years.

Brooke Candy: Totally. The level of manipulation, the level of public scrutiny; just those two things combined are so lethal. And she has elevated herself above both.

She’s just such an incredible performer, such a strong woman and such an iconic pop figure. Like, I truly believe she’s one of the greatest performers to ever exist. And she’s just such a good role model for strength. She’s endured such a lot and has come out on top. So it’s her strength that captivates me.

How would you describe the visual concept around ‘Flip Phone’?

Brooke Candy: I guess the overall aesthetic could be summed up as like a cross between The Fast and the Furious and Æon Flux – that Y2K sensibility. I actually referenced Lara Croft: Tomb Raider for the main outfit in the video, which is a black bikini with a black, long sleeve top. And there’s this heavy chain bikini that Caroline Reznik designed, which I think has a Barbarella feel to it. So I was really inspired by female action heroes, and just by the colours and overall vibe of Y2K car culture films.

How does ‘Flip Phone’ reflect the world of your forthcoming album? 

Brooke Candy: I don’t want to say too much just because anything that’s still in the works could change. Plus, I feel I express myself per song, rather than through a full album. But I will say that I think every song on the album has a heightened sensibility. It’s an exploration of pop music and a new sound for me. Pop music is really all I listen to nowadays, so I guess I want to make music that emulates that.

Aside from Britney, what other influences can you hear on the new album?

Brooke Candy: So one of the songs has some house influence. And another you could classify as indie-electro, maybe? It has live instrumentation and a really catchy chorus and sounds like a 2007 version of pop: like, -era Justice, The Veronicas and early Lady Gaga.

From Rico Nasty and Ashnikko to Charli XCX and Bree Runway, EXORCISM featured so many incredible female vocalists. Are there many guest stars on Freaky Princess

Brooke Candy: I think this album will have fewer features, and it’ll be more collaborative with different producers that I really admire. There’s this producer I’m working with named Only Fire and his stuff is super cool. But yeah, I kinda wanted to try to make an album where I could be centre stage. Previously I’ve used features because I wasn’t as confident with being able to deliver a full song. Whereas this time I was ready to try and see where I landed.

Your music has always existed at the intersection between art, sex and fantasy. Is that still the case with the new material?

Brooke Candy: I love how you worded that. I definitely always gravitate towards fantasy, sexual liberation and empowerment. And I think feminine power and female energy is always a big component too, no matter what. So with this new album there will be a lot of sexual innuendos, for sure. I just want to make music that’s joyful and that you'd want to dance to and sing along to.

“I feel it’s very important to have a voice to combat that conservatism. If you are a freak like me – a liberal person, someone who is open-minded – and you feel stifled by the current political climate, I want my music and my art to be a space where you can go and be at ease” – Brooke Candy

It’s very powerful to hear someone having fun breaking taboos, particularly in an age where we seem to be creeping towards conservatism.

Brooke Candy: Absolutely. It’s just so shocking to me how rapidly we’re moving backwards. There’s this divide between the people who are hateful and conservative and regressive, and the people who want to spread love and elevate consciousness. I choose the side of love, for sure.

I feel it’s very important to have a voice to combat that conservatism. If you are a freak like me – a liberal person, someone who is open-minded – and you feel stifled by the current political climate, I want my music and my art to be a space where you can go and be at ease and feel light. Because that’s how I’ve been feeling these days: I feel pretty easy-breezy and light and less serious, so I just want my music to reflect that.

What’s caused that lightness?

Brooke Candy: I feel like my tattooing has brought me this level of grounding and humility and focus. I try to do that four or five days a week. Just practising new mediums of art has made me feel much happier and lighter, and more carefree. And also I’ve been sober for about a year, so those things combined have been making me feel light on my feet for sure.

Have you discovered a new level of clarity since going sober?

Brooke Candy: Totally. It’s a level of clarity, it’s a level of calm, it’s a level of health. I just physically feel so much better. I used to use drugs and alcohol to mask my feelings of anxiety, but then it turned out that drugs and alcohol were creating so much more anxiety. Like, I would drink and be anxious for a full 48 hours after. So clarity is definitely key.

Did lockdown bring clarity too?

Brooke Candy: Oh my gosh, 100 per cent. I’m always a bit of a loner and antisocial so nothing really changed on that front but what did change was my pace of productivity. Because everything completely stopped, I was able to reflect in real-time on what I had created, what I was creating, what my intention was, and if it had any purpose. And now I feel totally comfortable creating at a much slower pace: really honing in on all of the fine details and having my hand in every aspect of it.

Before, there were times when I would delegate the writing of a song to another artist and now I would never do that. If I’m going to put a song out, I need to write it. If I’m going to make a video, I have to direct it. Everything I do should 100 per cent be an extension of me because I’m much more than just a vehicle for ideas. Also, I no longer have that impulse of needing anyone’s approval. And that has alleviated a lot of stress and anxiety, for sure.

From avant-garde pornos and tattoo art to experiments with shibari, you’re always seeking out new avenues to express your creativity. Outside of music, what else is on the horizon?

Brooke Candy: Actually I would like to say this out loud right now, because I feel like if I say it I’ll manifest it. I found the process of directing ‘Flip Phone’ so fulfilling that I would love to direct a feature film at some point in my life, maybe something experimental or conceptual… But at the moment I’m just really excited to be putting out this new work and to fall in love with making music and videos again. It feels like it did when I first started.