When I first met Meredith Graves she had an Audrey Hepburn-style pixie cut, dyed green to celebrate her recent move to Brooklyn. The next time I saw her, she was sandy-haired in the kitchen of a mutual friend's house, craning her neck as someone touched up her buzz cut with an electric razor. Staff writer at ROOKIE, lead singer of Perfect Pussy, and--as of recently--founder of record label Honor Press, Graves has about has many hats as hairstyles. The 27-year-old recently took a moment out of Perfect Pussy's tour schedule to talk about keeping her hair short, how kids give the best compliments, and why you should just shave your goddamn head already.
BROADLY: Can you describe your hair for us?
Meredith Graves: I've been cutting and dying it myself since I was 14--though I have a friend cut it for me these days. I've made a lot of terrible mistakes, but it's been a lot of fun. I consider it a hobby. Right now it's a bowl cut, shaved underneath and dyed silver. Sometimes I curl it, and sometimes I wear it up in a little sprout with a million pins in it.
Over the last couple years, I've slowed down the frequency with which I change colors-I used to flip it every few weeks. I've bounced between black and blonde--and pastel rinses like mint or pink over the blonde--a couple of times over the last two years, but any color in between is kind of off limits now. Lately I only change it when I have a dream or a serious gut feeling, so it usually feels relieving when I finally do it, like I've actualized something.
How do you feel about your hair?
I love it. I grew up in a family of short-haired women. My mother's worn her hair in a pixie cut since long before I was born, as has her sister, my beloved aunt--who helped raise me-and their mother-my grandmother-who played a huge role in my life until she passed away when I was twelve. I vaguely remember having a ponytail when I was in second grade, but other than that one year, my hair has always been shorter than my chin. I'm not super excited about it right now because it's in an uncomfortable growing-out phase--I'm trying to get it a little longer. I'd like it to be at my chin, because I've had either a shaved head or a pixie cut for the last four or five years.
What kind of dreams make you want to change it?
Sometimes I'll have striking, memorable dreams where my hair is black when in real life, my hair is blonde. If the dream seems particularly profound I'll often wake up with a great sense that I need to go out and dye my hair black that day. I'll try and sit with it for a few days but if I can't shake the feeling, I know I need to go out and do it.
How often would you say people compliment your hair? What do they say?
I honestly get compliments on my hair every day! Men compliment my hair a lot for some reason. I'll be walking down the street and random teenage boys will yell, "I love your hair!" I've seen people on Instagram and Tumblr talking about how they take pictures of me to their stylist--that's a huge compliment. [Compliments like that] make me feel amazing, because I've put a lot of time, money, and energy into learning how to do this stuff myself. They're complimenting my hard work!
Does having a web presence--and the visibility that comes with it--ever make you worried about changing your hair or appearance?
Nope! People occasionally comment on the fact that I wear dresses on stage, or refer to me as a "pixie"--which always makes me feel weird because I always figured pixies were supposed to be little, and I'm 5'10"--but other than that, it doesn't seem like people really care what I look like. I sometimes wish I was a cute, stylish fashion blogger type, but I'm doomed to be me!
Do you think the compliments alter, or have altered, your relationship with your hair? Do you ever change your hair based on compliments you've received in the past?
Not really. The only time compliments have ever affected my hair was when I dyed it green after I first moved to New York. For whatever reason, the bright green was like a beacon that told strange older men it was OK to strike up conversations with me. It almost gave me a nervous breakdown. Never again.
Are there any other colours that you'd never dye your hair? Any hairstyles you'd never try?
I don't dye my hair any color in the red spectrum, I always regret that. No neon colors, either. I have tried every color imaginable over the years, and I've found I only really look good in strict black or white. I'm not sure there are any hairstyles I would write off completely, save for dreadlocks. I would never have dreadlocks, because white people with "dreadlocks" are morons.
Do compliments from strangers differ from compliments from your friends and family?
Both mean a lot to me, but I really do love it when my bandmates dole out compliments. They're very no BS, so if they tell me they love my hair a certain way, I'm much more likely to wear it that way again. When I bought a curling iron and Instagrammed a selfie with curly hair, the guys texted me to tell me how pretty it was. I was over the moon. If the strangers are children or old ladies, though, I'm guaranteed to be on cloud nine for the rest of the day.
Kids totally give the best compliments. Why do you love when old people compliment you?
Old ladies today generally lived through a time where getting your hair done meant weekly trips to a salon for color, setting, sitting under a dryer, wrapping your hair in a silk scarf at night, a whole process. They take hair seriously. Also they usually have great style. I like looking a little bit like an old lady, with a blue or blush rinse over my white hair, weird 50s dresses, overcoats and gloves.
Are you comfortable giving and receiving compliments?
I love being nice to people. I compliment random people shamelessly and constantly. I do worry about complimenting people on their appearance because the world is so superficial and disgusting--I want people to know their real worth doesn't rely on their appearance, of course. But if I've got pink hair and I'm wearing a tutu and I compliment your shoes or hair, I figure it translates and doesn't seem too shallow.
Are there certain compliments about your hair that have a greater impact? What factors influence your reception of a compliment about your hair?
It really tweaks me when women compliment my hair by saying, "I love your hair! I could never cut mine that short, dye it that color, or shave my head." That's absolutely untrue. There are lingering cultural stereotypes around non-male people with short hair, perpetuated by gross trash humans like the guy who wrote an article about how women with short hair are "damaged." Because we live in a culture where we're taught that the only true validation comes from male approval, women are afraid to cut their hair short for fear of turning men off. When this happens, I always make a point to say something like, "Of course you can!" You won't live a satisfying life if you base it around other peoples' tastes and expectations. You could get run over by a bus tomorrow--just shave your head and dye it purple. Everybody dies.