BLACK MAGIC

MUSIC’S NEXT ASS-KICKING SUPERSTAR WON’T PICK JUST ONE COLOR—OR JUST ONE SOUND. PORCELAIN BLACK STRADDLES GENRES TO MAKE SONGS AS UNIQUE AS HER DUOTONE LOOK

From V Magazine’s Fall Preview 2011 issue, V72 The Transformation Issue

Porcelain Black makes an indelible first impression. The 23-year-old Detroit native sports a Cruella de Vil–inspired dye job—platinum white on one side, jet-black on the other—and she staggers on skyscraping platform heels everywhere she goes. And while her hair is a perfect complement to her stage name, the emerging pop siren claims that, for her, eye-catching dos are nothing new. “I grew up in a salon,” she says, igniting a cigarette. “My dad was a hairdresser, so my hair has been crazy my whole life. It’s been every color of the rainbow.”

Black has lost count of how many tattoos she has, though her favorites are the phrase “turn the lights down, turn the music up” on her arm and a Detroit Rock City composition scrawled across her knuckles. She smokes Parliament Lights, carries two smartphones everywhere she goes, and cites Marilyn Manson and Britney Spears as her biggest influences. A child of the millennium, Black is but the latest outré by-product of the Internet, cultured online and afforded endless cross-genre sources, such as Hole, Dolly Parton, and Nine Inch Nails, among many others. The result of this mash-up is a straightforward aggro-pop sound that is bizarrely unprecedented. Her debut video looks like nu-metal MTV pop pastiche: Spears inspires the choreography, Courtney Love breaks through on the screams, and the clothes come FedEx’d fresh from Manson’s closet.

But Black’s access to culture (and proximity to hair dye) was not all it took to earn three million YouTube views. The process started, in fact, on MySpace, where Black, known then for her industrial rock act Porcelain and the Tramps, first gained a following. At the age of 19, she impressed executives at Virgin Records when she auditioned in a hotel room by scream-singing AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck” over a CD track while sporting “a big-ass Mohawk.” She was signed on the spot, but what followed was a tense and lengthy battle over her contract. “They wanted me to be Avril Lavigne,” Black says, rolling her eyes. “I wasn’t disappointed when it didn’t work out, but I was disappointed that it took me three fucking years to get out of that deal. But I always knew this is what I was going to do.”

Freshly emancipated and ready to rumble, Black quickly got back on track, signing with RedOne’s 2101 label and linking up with Cortez Bryant of the ever-formidable Young Money Entertainment. Cue Lil’ Wayne. “My manager told Wayne about me and gave him the song,” Black recalls. “I met with him and he was like, ‘This bitch is crazy, I like her, I want to be on the track.’” At the mention of Wayne, Black grows visibly amped. She sums up her feelings with, “Wayne is DOPE!”

Their collaboration, “This Is What Rock ’N Roll Looks Like,” is the blistering scream-pop anthem that yielded her aforementioned clip, in which she exacts revenge on a clan of Juicy-clad, modern-day Heathers—in part by tearing apart a library and busting up a pep rally with a chant of her own. “I think it was a good first statement,” she says. “It was a good subject to zoom in on, coming out to the world and letting people know that I am giving a little bit of hope to kids who got picked on growing up. It’s good to be different. If you’re a cheerleader, if you’re a jock, if you’re a goth kid, or if you’re gay, be proud of it. If everybody in this world were the same, it would be boring as fuck.”

Porcelain Black in New York, May 2011
Styling Catherine Newell-Hanson
Dress Prada

Porcelain Black’s debut LP is out in summer 2011
from Universal Republic/2101

Makeup Maude Laceppe (community.nyc)  Hair Laura De Leon for Cutler/Redken (JOE)
Manicure Kristina Konarski for Dior Beauty (Ford Artists)  Photo assistant Matteo Prandoni  Digital technican Eric Luc
Location Fast Ashley’s Studios, Brooklyn  Retouching Jon Hempstead  Special thanks Caitlin Thomas (community.nyc)