AP: The concept behind the photoshoot is an extension of the concept behind my upcoming EP, Chrysalis. A dichotomy between hard and soft; a mystical organic form that is suspended in time and transformation…
I had been working on a new project for what seemed like forever. Sometimes process and creative growth can feel like walking through molasses – I was growing so much as an artist, but it felt like I was a cocoon. No one was seeing the growth, no one was hearing the growth, and so often I feel completely alone in my music. If a tree falls in a forest and no ones is around to hear, does it make a sound? I think subconsciously I was seeking a physical project with other people to propel myself into the completion stage of my EP and to bring a tangible aspect to what I had been creating in solitude.
The crown actually first came up via a conversation thread with my creative director, Abi Laurel, who suggested I work with Wynn Mustin on a custom piece. I had seen the amazing work that Wynn had done on her master’s thesis collection for Parsons and totally aligned with the concept behind her 3D-printed crystal jewelry designs – modern mysticism and spiritual connection to the digital forces and powers that surround our daily lives.
The three of us were immediately in tune with one another creatively: dream-team status. We sought out to create a crown that would feel alive in its own right and also cast the wearer of the crown into a mystical forest realm where their innate childlike magic and dominion of passion reigned supreme. ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ came up as a reference in the beginning stages as a inspiration for the feeling and mood we were looking for.
What is the significance of the crown?
AP: The ultimate significance of the crown is really to contextualize the EP in a physical form. Crowns have always acted as a symbol of great power and divination. The power that it symbolizes in this aspect is one of divine mysticism but also to reclaim the power and beauty of stagnation – an encapsulation of the transitional state and metamorphosis of a woman in music who is vulnerable, but fully in control. Resilient, bound by nature, and strong like the elements that surround us, the crown represents the undeniable warrior present within us all, the force that drives us to weather our transformations. The base of the crown is comprised of honeycomb prints dripping with viscous honey resin. Mustin’s signature derivative 3D-printed crystals are embedded into the honeycomb, creating an elegantly regal form. In terms of color, Big Sur was a major influence for our palette because of the mixture of natural pastels with neutral tones, vibrant maroon, and yellow. The main feature of the crown is the open winged Scarab beetle, presented at the front of the headpiece. As a little girl, I wanted to be an archeologist and find hidden Egyptian treasures so they’ve always interested me – especially after watching The Mummy :D. The Scarab has great significance in ancient Egyptian culture as a symbol of rebirth and is also tied into their creation story. The Scarab is symbolic of eternity itself.
Do you think queen has become an overused term for women or do you think it’s importance has increased in recent history?
AP: The term ‘queen’ has really become a term of endearment for a woman that you look up to or admire. I would use the word queen to describe a woman who is slaying at being herself and emanating a royal feeling of power in her abilities. Queen is also a powerful noun to describe a woman because it doesn’t have the word ‘man’ in it, but is attributed to dominance. A queen can inherit her throne and all of its history predestined, or take a crown for herself, start a new line, and create her own history. Queens can be beautiful and serene, but they can also be ruthless and deadly. I like the dichotomy of hard and soft in those characteristics. After months of planning, we decided on our photographer, Iris Ray. She was such a great fit we flew her out for the shoot from LA and damn, 100% no regrets. In every way, Iris was a true professional who was working non-stop to craft each shot with her signature light setups. We also had illustrious makeup artist, Raisa Flowers #makeupbyraisaflowers who is known for her couture looks, played a pivotal role and added such an insurmountable element to the concept and styling.
I also want to highlight the fact that we had an all-female crew. The caliber of talent that we were looking for all happened to be women and it was a really wonderful energy to have on set – I honestly think it added to the magic of what we were creating. We set up 10am on a Saturday and shot for 9 hours at the Stage Studio at R/GA where I work. They were so gracious to allow me to use the studio for my project, it was all very serendipitous. One of the best things about this project is the fact that at the end of it I have a physical crown representation of all of the hard work that my friends and I put into an idea. Music can feel physical and is physical at times, even tangible, but it has no evident mass to hold in your hands. The photos are also such a great reminder of all we accomplished. I’m also excited to say that these photos are part of the release for my EP ‘Chrysalis’! The single for the EP will be coming out via MANIMAL next month. I can’t wait to share the finals with you – but for now – here’s shot of the finished chrysalis crown :,)
Shout out and thanks to all of the wonderful individuals who made this possible:
Directed by: Abi Laurel
Art and Creative Direction: Abbi Press and Abi Laurel
Director of Photography: Iris Ray
Wardrobe Design: Wynn Mustin
Makeup: Raisa Flowers
Photography Assistant: Jaqui Rae Stewart
Creative: Mala Kumar
BTS Photography and Music Curation: Kathy Lee