'I’m from a little town in Wisconsin called Baraboo. That’s where everyone in the band is from—since it’s so small, you end up knowing anyone doing anything creative. There’re six of us—two are brothers, some of us played soccer together or were in dance together. I failed algebra twice when I was in a class with our keyboard player. We had all of these interactions, and then eventually we ended up forming PHOX.
For a while I was terrified to even try singing. I’m only starting to own it now that I’ve been doing it for two and a half years. When I first moved to Madison where I live now, I was actually in beauty school which was the craziest thing ever. There’re a lot of characters, naturally—strong personalities, artists and people like that. A lot of emotions. I was so glad to finish, though, and to start doing hair in a salon because I liked connecting with people in that way. You want your outside to reflect how you feel in the inside, and that’s what I think is very cool about hair and makeup. I don't want people to feel pressured to have to do it, but I think it’s very fun. I miss the salon, so sometimes I cut the boys’ hair in the band. I sit in the very back of the van so when the backs of their necks start looking a little hairy, that's all I see in front of me. I get a little crazy and have to do something about it. [Laughs] It’s a nice way to get my fix.
I’m always exploring products for my curly hair, there’s nothing I really stick to all the time. I like to deep clean it, then put products on to make it feel dirty again. I’ll mix a little bit of baking soda into my regular shampoo to make it more like a clarifying shampoo—don’t do this if you have colored hair, though! On the road I’ve been using Big Sexy Hair Back Comb In A Bottle, which isn’t necessarily a product for curly hair, but it works for the style I do. It’s basically a really concentrated hair spray, and I just put it at my roots for volume. It’s insane, I can’t even explain it. Hats are also awesome—they're nice on the road because your hair gets very...‘I slept in a van’-looking.
I’m always cocktail-ing things and experimenting. When I was younger I started taking lipstick and using it as eye shadow by blending it. That and liquid eyeliner were what I mastered in middle school. In beauty school, we were just playing around one day and someone had the Milani Infinite Liquid Eyeliner in Infinite. I tried it on and it stayed for like two days! I don’t know what’s in it—tar, sulfur, fairy blood probably—but it never comes off. It’s freaky but it also looks really great when you’ve had it on for a couple of days. I’ve tried to make motions toward a more natural routine, and now I feel that I have a pretty good balance between nice products and the stuff that will definitely kill me and make me flammable. [Laughs]'
—as told to ITG
Monica Martin photographed by Tom Newton.