Like many people, I first discovered Ariel Pink when he was self-producing albums from his bedroom in Los Angeles reminiscent of the great lo-fi king R. Stevie Moore. I never would have imagined that a few years later, his infectious sound- a mix of pop music and drum sounds made with his mouth- would be a household thing. These days, Ariel is busy touring with a band and modeling for the new Saint Laurent Paris campaign as well as making movies with Elijiah Wood. Currently, his hair is a shocking shade of pink and his look seems to be inspiring fashion houses on the runway as he mixes thrift-store finds with goth aesthetic and punk seamlessly. Here, I sat down to chat with him about his musical influences and his plans for the summer. We also did a fashion shoot, shot on location in the famous freewheeling Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco with looks inspired by Ariel Pink himself.
Lauren Goodman: Will you tell us a little bit about the evolution of your music from making it alone and very DYI, to now? How has that process changed and what does it mean for your work?
Ariel Pink: Well, it’s a very natural progression as far as I am concerned. You start off alone with an idea in your bedroom and eventually you need others. You try to turn them on to what you are doing and work with them. It’s been a slow gradual process for me. I mean, I am 35 and I started making music when I was a teenager, so I’ve had to quite a few years to work out the kinks and all that kind of stuff. I mean, the music itself is the secondary. It’s all about relationships and communication and about negotiating. Negotiating terms and relationships. So, I would say, hopefully I have gotten better at that. At the same time, you wouldn’t know necessarily because I have limited my involvement to the people that I am committed to. In the past, I was more promiscuous, so to speak, in terms of whom I played with and under what circumstances. I am pretty devoted to my band and the chemistry that we have developed. It would be counter intuitive if I started with a band and went solo. It should be the other way around.
Ariel Pink and artist Courtney Garvin wear their own clothes.
Lauren: Yeah, but people do that all the time.
Ariel: I think they think they can’t be solo from the get go. And for me it’s always been sort of obvious: I am my own island. So, I went solo first and then I became a band. It’s easier starting from smaller to larger, in concerted steps. And that also parallels the sound of the music—it’s gotten slicker. But, that’s because with age I am better at doing things… I am learning.
Lauren: When was the first time you dyed your hair pink?
Ariel: It was for the Spin shoot about a year and a half ago. They had a special guy there, Daniel Moon, who was mixing up a sort of magenta fuchsia fusion [laughter]. My hair is pink right now because Azalea Banks dyed it.
Lauren: What are your summer plans?
Ariel: I am going to Russia. We are playing in Moscow and St. Petersburg. And then I should be working on a few films, actually. Working on this movie, Bad Vibes, with Elijah Woods’ company, he’s backing it. It’s a werewolf movie. There are other films: I am also going to be a part of a movie called The Transloco, with Willie Desantos. And then a Josh Safdie movie, as well.
Ariel Pink wears his own Roxy Music t-shirt at Aub Zam Zam on Haight St., San Francisco.
Lauren: Did you say the name of the first movie is Bad Vibes?
Ariel: Yes. It takes place in 1960’s Haight and Asbury. It’s a horror movie. It tells the story of a band in the late 60’s—kind of a mixture of Sly and the Family Stone and Jefferson Airplane. Their singer gets an STD from a groupie that turns him into a werewolf. And it chronicles their descent into madness and wolf-dom. The whole band becomes werewolves eventually, and their music changes for the darker. So it’s very exciting to follow that trajectory, writing wise.
Lauren: Are you writing it?
Ariel: I am making the music for the film. And I am also going to star in it. Well, sort of. I am going to play a shy and a nervous keyboard player in the band. I only have a few lines but I keep on fucking up the rehearsals in the movie. So, that’s my part. I am also going to do Station to Station, this art thing that’s happening in September. I don’t know if that counts as summer, but I’ll probably be preparing for that.
Lauren: Are you on the train the whole time for Station to Station?
Ariel: I think so—I intend to be… I think I might be the on board entertainment for the people that will be riding. Maybe I’ll have some sort program/classes, that sort of thing.
Lauren: So, how did you end up on the Saint Laurent Paris shoot with Hedi Slimane?
Ariel: I was dropping off Geneva [musician, Geneva Jacuzzi, on-again off-again girlfriend of Pink’s] at the studio. And that’s how it happened.
Lauren: Besides being in the SLP campaign this season, have you noticed how the runways look like your style? Prada is so Ariel Pink.
Ariel: If I’m fashionable, it’s an accident. It’s because I have fashionable friends. Like Courtney [Courtney Garvin, a musician and artist, is also Ariel’s stylist.]
Lauren: Who are your fashion icons?
Ariel: Richard Simmons. Alice Cooper. And Hedi Slimane.
Lauren: If you weren’t a musician what would you be?
Ariel: I always wanted to be an astronaut. I think about being a truck driver every once in a while. I am also a visual artist, so I don’t know if that counts as a job. I like to work on movies as well, just anything creative. I am just a creative guy.
Lauren: What were your favorite tv shows growing up?
Ariel: I was really into Tales From the Dark Side. I was into Head Bangers’ Ball (laugh). And Colombo.
Lauren: If you could have dinner with anyone living or dead who would it be?
Ariel: Robert Smith from the Cure. I would like to have dinner with the Einstein and maybe Richard Feynman.
Lauren: Summer reading?
Ariel: Allan Schore. And Julian Jaynes. I read blogs too: The Rational Male, by Rollo Tomassi.
Lauren: What was the last thing you thought about before you fell asleep last night?
Ariel: Should I kiss her or should I not?
Bow shirt and leather coat, Chanel. Studded shorts, Evil Twin. Long striped socks, Louis Vuitton. Gold spike bracelet, Eddie Borgo. Boots, stylist’s own, worn throughout.
Sweatshirt, See You Monday. Striped jeans, Hudson. Creepers, T.U.K. Large spike bracelet and ring, Eddie Borgo.
Red patent dress, Valentino. Stockings, Wolford.
Right: Vintage leather jacket, Wasteland, San Francisco. Pink cashmere sweater and neoprene skirt, Organic by John Patrick. Earrings, Marni. Clutch, hammered metal cuff and ring, Anndra Neen. Large pyramid bracelet, Eddie Borgo.
Jethro Tull t-shirt, Wasteland, San Francisco. Black leather collar, Rivethead. Pyramid necklace, Eddie Borgo.
Sweater and shorts, Louis Vuitton. Large gold spike bracelet, Eddie Borgo. Thunderbolt ring, Lynn Ban. Black leather spike bracelets, Rivethead. Striped stockings, stylist’s own.
Leather coat with fur cuffs and gingham skirt, Prada. Vintage Missoni clutch and pink belt, Wasteland, San Francisco. Gold spike collar, Fenton. Large spike bracelet, Eddie Borgo.
Brocade pants, Wes Gordon. Vintage Malcom McLaren t-shirt, stylist’s own. Vintage faux fur jacket, Wasteland, San Francisco. Large silver bracelet, Eddie Borgo.
Suit, shirt, and boots, Louis Vuitton. Gold leggings, American Apparel. Bracelets, Eddie Borgo. Earrings, Marni.
Top image: Ariel Pink wears a shark sweatshirt given to him by a fan with his own vintage sweatpants, on Mission St. in San Francisco.
Photography by Silja Magg, Styling by Lauren Goodman, Hair by Brynn Doering, Makeup by Victor Cembellin for MAC, Model: Haley Sutton, Photographer’s Assistant: Daniel Morris.