Me and Brooke Candy Hung Out With Some Farm Animals
Where we spoke about her mythical queer porno, destroying the patriarchy and being close to nature.
All photography By Chloe Sheppard
It’s just gone 11AM and I am watching Brooke Candy break into a goat pen. There are around ten of them, their beady eyes following her as she manoeuvre’s herself over the fence and stands there in the grass. For a moment, I’m worried they’re all going to charge towards her. I wonder whether VICE could get sued for that. I imagine having to explain to people that Brooke Candy is no longer with us because she was trampled by goats, in Shoreditch nonetheless. But then they all gather around her peacefully, and I breathe a sigh of relief before joining the little Satanic goat party the LA alt-pop star appears to be hosting.
This is the first time I’ve gone to an animal farm with Brooke Candy – but it’s not the first time we’ve hung out. We initially met at a west London hotel in early 2016, back when she was still signed to Sony and making shiny, pop-leaning tracks with Sia like “Paper or Plastic” and “Living Out Loud”. We then caught up a year later, for a Noisey profile, where we spoke about ayahuasca, the shitty state of American politics and being raised on the LGBTQ club scene in San Francisco. Not long afterwards she was unceremoniously dropped by her label, who kept the album she’d been working on since the mid-2010s, so we spoke about that too.
A lot of artists would be dampened by the aforementioned setback, but it's kind of worked out the opposite. It’s important to remember that Brooke emerged from the underground to begin with, playing in sweaty, packed out basements and hustling her way to the top via freaky DIY videos and brash club-rap tracks, consistently collaborating with other creatives such as Renata Raksha, Claire Barrow, Jesse Saint John and Nicola Formichetti along the way. Her appeal has always been intrinsically tied up with her bold, weirdo spirit and willingness to push up against mainstream ideals – something major labels aren’t famously known for, and probably why the partnership didn't work out.
Since parting ways with Sony, her output has become more prolific and subversive than it was allowed to be a few years prior. She’s released an electro-punk, pansexual anthem with Mykki Blanco, MNDR and Pussy Riot called “My Sex” that comes with a glistening music video full of digitalised rubber dolls. She’s toured and collabed with Charli XCX, Lizzo and Cupcakke. She’s put out three pop punk tracks, “War”, “Nuts” and “Danger.” Most recently, she directed her own mythical queer porno, I Love You, which came out via PornHub last month and includes the realest queer sex I’ve ever seen on screen alongside some harp music and fairytale artwork.
And so, we decided to have a catch up about all the above. This time, though, we thought it would be more fun to go to an animal farm. Because where better to chat about patriarchal gatekeepers, mainstream porn and existential dread than when surrounded by plantlife and bunny rabbits. It's all about the juxtaposition.
Noisey: What a wholesome morning we’ve had at the farm today. Why do you think it’s important to spend time with nature?
Brooke Candy: I think with the way the planet is at the moment, and also how sensitive I am – are you familiar with the idea of ‘empaths,’ I think you probably are one – but I tend to take on the energy of the people around me, and when I’m in a serene, natural setting, I feel calm and at ease. It’s the only place I really feel at ease these days.
Do you have one spot in LA where you like to go?
I go to the beach. I like to surf. It’s so easy to get stressed out in the city and feel that toxicity on a cellular level. So jumping into the ocean for five minutes resets my system. I need to be around animals. I need to be around plants. I think every human being does.
If I see loads of people for three days in a row, I have to then be alone for a while in order to reset. It's like other people's energies make me forget who I am.
Totally. Everything is just an exchange of energy. It’s a subconscious thing, but if you’re working with someone, romantically involved with someone, sleeping with someone, even just a friendship – it’s an exchange of energy. Oftentimes I think we gravitate towards energy that’s not right for us, or not right in the moment, and it can really suck your soul. I love to be alone. I thrive when I’m on my own.
I’m exactly the same. It’s really weird.
I think you are too.
When you’ve got to do a lot of promo, do you find it draining in that way sometimes?
I get through it, and then recuperate afterwards. But definitely by the end of it, I’m emotionally, physically and spiritually exhausted. But it’s also important to me – especially now that I’m controlling everything and it’s really coming from my soul. I think it’s important to promote these messages, like what we’re talking about right now. It’s important for a young girl living in the middle of nowhere to hear these things. So I’m willing to put myself in that position.
That makes sense. I feel like you parting ways with Sony ended up being a really positive thing…
Yeah! You were around when I was still with them. Remember? What a fucking nightmare.
I feel like the stuff you’ve put out since then is some of the coolest stuff you’ve released, though.
Oh hell yeah. Selfishly, I feel fulfilled. I’m doing exactly what I want, and I’m also coming from a place of honesty and authenticity. Sony were stifling me. I’m not a ‘conspiracy guy,’ but it makes me wonder whether they just were just trying to silence me. I’ve always wanted to be a proponent for change.
Yeah, you would never have been able to release your porn film I Love You, for instance.
Never. You can’t be subversive. It’s homogenized garbage, and that’s what they’re peddling in order to keep people docile so that the machine can keep making money and we can keep existing in this bizarre dark age. But we don’t have to keep living this way. I unfortunately became a cog in that system because I was young, and on drugs, and made mistakes. But I’m a proponent for the people, dude. Fuck that shit. Capitalism and the patriarchy need to be etch-a-sketched.
What I liked about that film was how it was very realistic in a way that porn generally isn’t, but also very mythical and fantastical at the same time, which is a really interesting combination.
I also love that paradox. I’ve always been really sex-positive, and highly sexual, it’s always been a part of my work. It’s always been about liberating women, especially, because we’re made to feel like garbage if we want to have sex, even though it’s a basic human function like eating and shitting – I'm sorry, but it is. So this was exciting because it was territory unexplored by me, and unexplored by women generally – there aren’t many women directors in porn, it’s a totally misogynistic world. And to create the type of porn I made was completely unexplored. I wanted to open the door and watch people follow.
I think that’s a positive place from which to create any type of art, especially porn. It’s like what you said about wiping the slate clean, and there being no expectations of what it should be.
Totally. How often, in the times that we’re living in, does something feel new? No porn has ever had a gay scene, a lesbian scene and a trans scene in the same film, it’s never been done. Why? Isn’t that insane?
It's insane! It’s because these gatekeepers don’t come from that world, so they’re not channelling that world into what they’re creating, and they’re not allowing other people to either.
The porn industry are marketing sales towards straight, white men, but it’s like... who fucking cares? It’s time to move forward. I worked with some of the biggest porn stars, who have done like 500-1000 films, and typically when they film, a straight male director will think of all the scenes that he wants and then they'll shoots stills of it, one-by-one, so it looks good to them. But I’m like… that takes all the passion and chemistry and magic out of sex. That’s not what sex is. So I didn’t do it that way – the only direction I gave was “go for it,” and we casted from chemistry alone, like if I could read you and I felt like you had a spirit or a fucking soul. One take.
Yeah, it was like... just have sex!
Speaking of which, let’s chat about that track you did recently, “My Sex.” You and Mykki must have known each other for a while now…
I’ve known Mykki for about seven years. We started making music at the same time, and he was going to art school in New York and I was pretty much homeless back then. The first time I met him I was in Harlem – staying with my friend Robot – and I really needed to use the computer to send emails because I was hustling, trying to make music. So he was like ‘come to my computer lab.’ So I went to his art school and we were both sending emails together, both hustling, both trying to book shows, get in with producers, make music. And ever since then we’ve hung out. Mykki’s a genius. A true poet.
I feel like you possess similar artistic spirits in the way you're continuously two steps ahead of what people expect. Like those punk rock tracks you released recently.
Yeah, why not? Nothing is real to me. No one knows what’s going on. We’re all faking it, so there are no rules. Do whatever you want – that’s my motto.
My motto is “we’re all going to die.”
Yeah, I can’t wait *laughs*. No, but even death – who knows what that is? We could be dead already right now. Buddhists believe that we’re in the afterlife. I was just reading this theory about how you die in one dimension and everyone around you is aware and conscious of your death but then you just wake up in a slightly different dimension, but you have no idea that you died, because there are infinite dimensions that exist at the same time.
Okay I'm going to need some time to process that one. Now… if you could invite three people to dinner – dead or alive – who would they be?
Oh my god so, Anaïs Nin, who is this erotic writer from the 1940s. Then Albert Camus, the French philosopher. And Carl Sagan, the astronomer.
What would you make them?
It depends on their dietary restrictions. I’d want to be polite. I feel like they’re so high intellect that they’d be stressed out all the time, so they’d need comfort food. Maybe I’d do like a pizza. A vegan pizza.
Would you make it yourself from scratch?
I wouldn’t make it. I would order it in, then say that I made it. Then we’d have prosecco. What’s a better meal than pizza and prosecco?
I did not have you down as a prosecco girl. I love Jack Daniels, personally.
I love Jack Daniels too. Did I just drool?
Jesus, I think you did. So you’re 29 now. I’m turning 26 next month. What advice would you give in order to navigate the rest of my 20s?
You’re about to enter your Saturn returns… You’ve passed 25, though, congratulations. That was the most psycho age for me. I mean, I don’t feel like I need to give you advice, you’re so fucking cool.
Ha! What about for people my age?
Just be your authentic self, life’s too short, nobody knows what the fuck’s going on. Who cares what’s going on? Just do things that make you feel good, that make you feel happy, that make you feel like you’re living in bliss. Everyday when we wake up, we have the capacity to choose our identity and our desired state. You can wake up and be like, ‘today I’m going to fucking feel bliss.’ The older I’m getting, the more confident I’m getting with my body, I’m becoming more relaxed. And I also think... just be kind to each other. We’re berated with desensitizing information all the time, but try your best to be kind and come from a place of unconditional love, because that’s all that matters.
But I don’t need to give you any advice, dude. That said, I do think you’re going to go through this thing at 26, 27, 28 where… well, what happened to me is that I started to question everything in my life, my values, what am I really doing, what do I really want. But I just came out of that, and I’m still making art, and I’ve made the right choices.