Rap-pop star Brooke Candy first went viral in 2012 with "Das Me," which catapulted her to underground fame and set the stage for more legendary visuals fusing gritty electronica and avant-garde fashion. With the queer community rallying behind her, Candy was eventually signed to RCA Records, where she created a full-length project alongside hitmaker Sia. This effort spawned 2014's impressive Opulence EP and later, the self-love anthem, "Living Out Loud," but no official studio album.
Now, the Los Angeles artist has parted ways with Sony to return to her DIY roots, currently preparing an independent second EP where she has full creative control once again. Candy's lead single, "Volcano," features Sia's golden co-write on the chorus, as she compares love to hot molten lava. "I feel it, the heat is rising, I'm ready to go," she warns, above Cory Enemy's throbbing production, before erupting into a ferocious rap verse co-penned by queer songwriter Jesse Saint John (Britney Spears, Erika Jayne).
Candy's self-directed "Volcano" video was produced on a zero budget, but delivers on outrageous style and subversive sex appeal. Wearing silver angel wings, giant peroxide-blonde pigtails and thigh-high cherry-red boots, she looks like a menacing cosplay stripper, as Hustler founder Larry Flynt later watches her get tied in Shibari. Visually, it's commentary on media misogyny, though Candy's five-minute epic reads deeper as liberation from the mainstream music machine she'd been forced to wrestle with at RCA for years.
Below, Candy talks with longtime collaborator Saint John—who conducted her first-ever interview—to discuss creating "Volcano," touring with Minneapolis rapper Lizzo and tanning topless on an Italian yacht.
Jesse Saint John: What was the process of making the "Volcano" video?
Brooke Candy: Hm, that's hard to explain. My creative process is pretty chaotic. We shot an entire other full video and scrapped it, then shot this and scrapped it then pulled it back out. Making art with me is like stepping into a tornado.
How do you decide wardrobe for a video like this?
I worked closely with my best friend Seth Pratt on all of the looks. I'm also wearing my pal Christian Cowan's designs and some old Vivienne Westwood. I'm not sure how to properly explain the aesthetic—maybe like Transylvanian trash or robot human hybrid hooker with a heart of gold.
How has the queer community driven your success as an artist?
The queer community has embraced my weird eccentricities and celebrated so many of the things I was taught to hate about myself. They're my allies and my tribe.
What was your recent first-ever U.S. tour opening for Lizzo like?
It was honestly the most fun I've ever had in my life. Lizzo is the most talented performer and human—she's a fucking star. I love touring and being on the road more than anything.
What can fans expect from a Brooke Candy show?
Fantasy answer: Brooke Candy shows are filled with your deepest darkest fantasies. Obscenities, nudity, trash, thrash, sex. A safe, spooky place for freaks, fags, and allies to get fucking crazy.
What's next for you?
More music and art soon. I'd like to be topless on a yacht in Italy.
What are you most looking forward to right now?
I'm going surfing tomorrow. That should be nice.
Photography, Hair & Makeup: Anthony Nguyen
Styling & Creative Direction: Brooke Candy