Seinabo Sey, Singer

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'I’ve been on the road for about a year, more or less—we do a show every day and every day is different. The sizes of the venues are pretty different, too, especially the backstage. The stage can be huge, but the backstage can be half of the one I'm getting ready in tonight. We have to make it work, for sure. I don't work with a stylist, but I have hair and makeup sometimes. Lately, though, I've realized that I need to at least be able to do my own makeup. I definitely enjoy getting ready, but this whole makeup evolution thing is pretty recent. I started buying all the real products that I need like maybe two or three months ago because I was like, 'OK, I’m going on a long tour, and if I’m stuck and can’t get help, I really need to have the things I need.' I’m alright at it when I’m in the right space and calm enough to feel like I want to do it.

PRE-SHOW

I’m so bad with planning. I don’t have a rider—nobody gave me a fucking rider, and now I'm like, 'Can we have some whiskey please?' [Laughs] I should be better at all of these pre-show things, but I sort of like the feeling of just walking off the street and onto the stage. My voice doesn’t necessarily love it because you need to warm up, and its good, I guess, to center yourself and stuff, but nah I don’t do anything special. Maybe I'll just have some celery. If there's celery and whiskey, I'm happy. I can’t eat loads of carbs before a show. I made this huge mistake once when I was in England. I ate like a whole Chinese-food dinner, then I was standing on stage like, 'Why did I do that?' [Laughs]

SKINCARE

The more cameras I‘ve had in my face, the more self conscious I’ve become about it. I used to be self conscious about my skin because I had it really bad—but, right now, I realize it might have been a little bit more in my brain than in reality. When I was a kid, I used to get a lot of breakouts, so I was constantly trying to find the perfect skincare product to get that out of the way. I try to moisturize and wash my face properly every day, but it usually only happens four or five days out of the week. On tour, I’ve started thinking about it a lot more—you just get double dehydrated, double tired, double everything when you’re traveling this much. I use a lot of Dermalogica products. I'm running out of their Precleanse, so I'm using Simple Foaming Cleanser. I pair it with baobab oil that I got in London somewhere just by chance. I really love to feel beautiful without that much makeup on, and I do some days, but when you have circles under your eyes and you haven’t slept much, makeup is good for those kind of situations.

MAKEUP

I use MAC Pro Longwear Concealers with MAC Strobe Cream as a base. I just put that all over my face because I like the way that looks. For lipsticks, I like using MAC. Right now, I'm wearing a lot of pink lipstick—this is MAC's Retro Matte Lipstick in All Fired Up. I pair it with a dark purple liner underneath for a really cool effect. It's the perfect kind of pink. But I'm also devoted to Ruby Woo.

I have a mascara I love that I just found called Better Than Sex by Too Faced. Eyeko also makes really good mascaras—they stay on forever. It’s difficult to get that stuff off your eyelashes! I like volume mascaras because my lashes are naturally pretty long, so I just want to fill them in. I’m not into eyelash extensions though. I’ve thought about it, but my lashes are cool. I’m just scared of them falling off and then looking all uneven. You know, anything that requires maintenance and that you have to go to a salon for, I just don't have the time—and it's not part of my nature to do things like that. My makeup artist at home hates me. I’m like, 'winged eyeliner, red lipstick please—bye!' That’s all that happens.

HAIR

My natural hair color is dark brown, but I've been blonde, I've had red hair, I've had purple hair...I had a gray-hair phase, but it was pretty wicked in terms of maintenance, so I used to just shave it off. Those were the best hair days of my life. I just woke up and walked out. It was wonderful.

During shows, my hairstyle depends on my mood. It's usually in some kind of bun or an updo because it gets so warm onstage. I'm very particular about letting people help me with it. My best friend is my hairdresser, which is both good and bad because, when I tell her my hair ambitions, she just does not listen. She's like, 'No, you're not going blonde. You're hair is going to fry. I don't care what you say. Bye.' [Laughs]. If I'm going to wear my hair curly for a show, I tend to just use any conditioner on hand—it doesn't matter—and comb it through my hair. I like to let my hair air-dry if I have the time because the curls don't go frizzy that way. I just pin it up and do a middle part. If I don't have time for that, I'll take whatever hair gel I have on hand, wet my hair, and do my hair as slick as possible before putting it in a bun.

END OF THE NIGHT

After the show, I like to keep the makeup on 'cause I feel really pretty. You’re like, 'Mwah!' I get off stage and just sit for a while. I’m always way more tired than I think I’m going to be. I start off the night like, 'Let's go party after the show!' Then after the show happens, I'm like, 'No, no...I know.' Everyone's disappointed. [Laughs] I try really hard to take my makeup off every night, but I fall asleep with it on a lot, and it sucks. It's very compelling to just fall asleep, especially if you had somebody that was really good do your makeup. You’re like, 'I wanna die like this!' Preserved like a mummy.”

—as told to ITG

Seinabo Sey photographed by Tom Newton on May 31, 2015. Up next: midnight milkshakes and nail talk with Dana Wright.