Brooke Candy is barely 23, but her years have been packed with sadness, hedonism, turmoil – and now success. She grew up in Agoura Hills, a plush Californian suburb, an outsider among the chichi folk. Candy describes it as a “Stepford town”, and as soon as she had the chance, she fled. “I was so miserable, the people I was surrounded by were so different to me and they didn’t like that. As soon as I turned 17, I moved to San Francisco.” Burning with creative energy but unable to pay the tuition fees, Candy used to sneak into the San Francisco Art Institute to attend lectures and use the workshop facilities. But drug abuse and depression slowly began to take over.
“It had gotten to the point where I was living out of my car and stripping to get by. My depression had got worse and being manic just held me back; I was constantly doubting myself, but I knew I had to get out of the hellhole I was living in. I always wanted to be an artist but thought that life would be impossible; things got so bad for me, though, I had to take the risk. I had nothing else to lose.”
Candy found an outlet in rap, which finally gave her the licence to express herself as freely, truly and crudely as she wished; through her lyrics and rhymes, she found the sense of empowerment she craved so badly. In her performances, you encounter a ferocious woman, someone you would not want to mess with. Candy’s extreme sound goes hand in hand with a “hard as fuck” aesthetic: she describes herself as a “freaky princess”, her look a hybrid of futuristic-neon-mutant-cyberpunk-babe. Her close friend Seth Pratt creates all her clothes, and the pair live, work and party together in a manner that’s reminiscent of enfant terrible Leigh Bowery and his Taboo club entourage. Much like Bowery, Candy uses her body as an extension of her art, a visual representation of her world. “The way I dress is a mirror of my brain and most of the time that mirror is fucking crazy,” she explains. “But if I wake up in the morning and I feel like looking masculine and androgynous I’ll do that, and if I feel like dressing like a classy bitch I will put on a fucking gown or whatever. Even in my day streetwear shit I want to look fucking dope. I just want to look as good as possible and feel as powerful as possible.”
The woman behind all the armour, make-up, hair extensions, platforms and vitriol is trying to project a positive message: she wants people to come together and stand up for themselves. Candy wants to carry the torch for those who feel as she once did, those who are vulnerable: the freaks, losers and outsiders. “It’s 2013 but I feel like our value system is so fucking backwards. I am going to constantly press this issue because there is so much fear and hatred in this world. There shouldn’t be double standards for anyone. I am standing up for all the oppressed people; we all have a voice.”
Dumb by Brooke Candy is out now.