You ain’t seen nothing yet LA. Cristina Black, a triple threat writer, musician and singer, is not only known for discovering the best in music and style as music editor-at-large for surf style magazine Foam, but she’s also a true artistic talent herself.
Having recorded her EP Ditty Sessions in 2009, Cristina combined her love for songwriting, singing and playing instruments on an album inspired by her former home New Orleans and what happened after Hurricane Katrina. Her song “Drunk Rich People” was recently featured on NBC’s prime time hit Parenthood and praise for her album from The Fader included, “soft james the likes of which we’re definitely not treated to everyday.”
So what makes her a Wantering Trendsetter? Read our chat with Cristina to find out more about her life of sun, surf and singing.
You’re a writer and musician, in fact you play multiple instruments (harp, piano and ukulele). How did these two creative worlds come together for you?
It’s very natural because I’ve always done both and they’re so symbiotic. I’m always either writing about music, or writing music. Either way, I’m so joyful.
As the music editor-at-large for the gorgeous surf style magazine Foam, you’ve interviewed some pretty interesting artists. Tell us more.
I just chatted with the British pop star Charli XCX about young love, how crazy that is. I talked to Adele about handling exes. I gawked at dudes with Ke$ha.
I like to think I’m really high minded, but then a lot of the time, I just end up talking about boys! Sometimes, I talk TO boys, like Kendrick Lamar, Ezra from Vampire Weekend and Skrillex.
Of course, I talk to artists about their art and their creative journeys too. I loved doing in-depth cover stories on Karen Elson, Bat for Lashes and Lykke Li. They all know how to mesh music and style in such magical ways. Oh, and Florence Welch. I covered her really early on.
What is your personal motto or mantra?
"You ain’t freakin’, you ain’t speakin’." I think it’s good to keep yourself uncomfortable, maybe even a little terrified.
Let’s talk about your writing. You’ve written about fashion, beauty and entertainment. Do you have a favorite project or interview?
I had this Jay McInerney moment when I was living in New York and writing for the Village Voice about the Brooklyn music scene that was pretty special. And I’m really proud of my work for Foam, not just the big stuff, but also covering things like lo-fi and chill wave and just all these kids making cool homegrown music. A few years back, I did this package about bedroom pop with artists like Baths and Toro y Moi. I included a how-to guide about making your own music on your laptop and promoting it on the Internet. I hope the next Ellie Goulding is sitting in her room right now, making beats and singing over them.
You currently live in LA, but grew up in New Orleans and then lived in New York City. All three cities have different vibes, different styles. What about each place influenced your style the most?
New Orleans is so magical and theatrical. When I lived there, we would just wear costume items out all the time. It didn’t matter if it was carnival or Halloween or what because there was always a parade or a party or a freakshow to go to. I had an entire closet dedicated to costumes and headpieces and sequined things and tattered vintage gowns. I had so many wigs! My place was always a mess of smeared makeup and glitter. Everybody’s was. It was madness.
In New York, it was the real deal as far as fashion. My looks were more about refinery, sophistication, luxury. I picked up a pretty mean shopping habit and got really into designer stuff and cult lines like Loeffler Randall, Rachel Comey and Isabel Marant. I looked like a Sartorialist hopeful every time I stepped out of my apartment.
In L.A., it’s like, you throw on your yoga leggings with high-heeled booties, billowy blouses, gobs of long necklaces and rings and not too much makeup. Just bright red lipstick and big sunglasses.
Who is your style icon?
I have a Karen Elson complex. I think it’s so amazing that she’s this English girl who reinvented herself as a ghostly Southern gothic fantasy. It’s super weird and cool.
You started a band a few years ago. What song do you hold closest to your heart and why?
I love “Purple Houses,” from my EP, The Ditty Sessions. It was inspired by the events of Hurricane Katrina, and I recorded it with some very talented friends in New Orleans. It was a very special experience that I’ll never forget.
You just played at Desert Nights at The Standard Hollywood with Michael Runion and Z Berg (of JJAMZ) and Ted Wendler (of Mansions on the Moon) in January. How was that?
Really fun. It’s always great to get in a room with a bunch of songwriters and hear what’s on their minds at the moment.
What are your plans for 2013?
Love, money, music.
If you could give one piece of advice to your 14 year-old self, what would it be?
If your heart is breaking, you’re doing it right.
To shop Cristina’s southern-girl-meets-LA style, join thousands of other trendsetters on www.wantering.com.
Photo Credits: 1) Cover: Shervin Lainez 2) Black Dress: Shervin Lainez 3) White Dress: Taylor Crothers 4) Pink Dress: Aimeé Toledano