'I’m usually either in songwriting mode, where I’m recording and writing, or I’ll be gigging at a bunch of places. I had a residency at The Viper Room for a long time, but now that my EP is about to come out, I’m doing little release-type performances and playing more shows. I worked in nightlife for a long time, in bars and clubs. It was sort of a means to an end before music was really getting me through with no other job. Now I’m in a really lucky place where I’m able to make a living just with what I love to do. But for a long time, I was working in that environment, so now I don’t love to go out—unless I’m in Paris, and then I want to go out and follow around the people I think are cool. [Laughs] The French have been so warm toward me, so I like to go and explore. When I’m traveling, that’s sort of when I have the nightlife bug.
Red wine is a must for getting ready. There is so rarely a moment when you can have a second to yourself to chill out. I feel like, as a woman, you can have that moment when you’re getting ready to ground yourself. I always like to have a candle lit for sure. It's Diana Vreeland Parfums Extravagance Russe, of course. I love Diptyque as well. For performances, I have little things that I like to do, like I have my great-grandmother’s bangle that I always wear. I always try to keep things relatively minimal because I don’t like to have too much going on, makeup-wise. I know there’s going to be a lot of emotion because I always have an emotional experience when performing, the environment is going to be sort of smoky, and I’m going to be drinking Scotch.
Instead of a shower, usually I do what we call a child’s sponge bath, where you get totally ready, and then you put your hair up in a clip and rinse the pits. I guess I should say I shower, but I really try to avoid it at all costs. [Laughs] If there’s a warm house filled with friends and family, then sure, send me into the shower. I’ll be leisurely in there. But I live in fear, so it’s hard for me to shower when no one’s here because I feel like someone’s going to come for me!
The goal with my makeup is always to look wet in the face. For night, I use Glossier's Perfecting Skin Tint on top of everything, then I use the Epicuren Protein Mist Enzyme Toner. It’s the best. It makes you look so dewy. I can keep misting all damn night. I use Cover FX Cream Concealer just under my eyes because it covers up under-eye circles. Actually, when I went to go buy it, the lady told me burn victims use it to cover their burn scars, so I was like, 'That must be great for covering dark circles!' You never want that white under-eye cast, though, so I always make sure to powder my face everywhere with Bare Minerals Concealer Broad Spectrum SPF 20 in Summer Bisque except for my cheekbones because I don't want to lose that glossiness. Then, I use MAC Blot Powder/Pressed in Light on top. I bronze under my cheekbones, only lightly, kind of around where the sun would naturally hit and add just a little dab on the cheek. I use the NARS Blush/Bronzer Duo in Orgasm/ Laguna. Laguna is everyone’s favorite bronzer. It’s not too sparkly. And Orgasm ‘cause we all want to look post-coital.
I usually do nothing on my eyes, but for a performance, I kind of like to amp it up with a medium brown pencil because brown on blue eyes looks better than black. I do it really haphazardly, not really caring how it turns out because I’m going to smudge it anyway. I never want to look like it was too thought out. You want to make it look French, like you didn’t even try. I like the rock ’n’ roll-ness of it. Next, I use Covergirl Bombshell Shineshadow in Ooh La Lilac 325. It’s a nice cream shadow, and I like how it mixes with the brown. I rub it all around like I do with the brown eyeliner, blending the two. Then I put it all over the lid. The end result is like a purply brown smudgy-smoky look.
I curl my lashes because God knows I have those downward pointing lashes. You know those ones that you sometimes get? I set a curl before the mascara, and it makes the eye look more open. I use MAC Full Lash Curler, and Lights, Camera, Lashes 4-in-1 Mascara by Tarte. It doesn't go on too clumpy. I only do one coat. I’m not like a Tammy Faye Bakker…
For my brows, I use Benefit Cosmetics' Gimme Brow in Light/Medium. When in doubt, I always spray a little hairspray at the end of the brow brush and apply because I always want them to look thicker and a bit disheveled. I don’t know if it’s because of Into The Gloss that I heard about this, but as a finishing touch, I use RMS Beauty's Living Luminizer. It’s everything! I always do a little bit on the cheekbones. I love that it makes you appear wet but it’s not shimmery or sparkly. It stays greasier, and I like that look. It has that opal color to it, and it’s easy to rub on. Whatever I have left on my finger, I put on my Cupid's bow to open up the lip.
My hair is always pulled back. It’s much more sophisticated that way. I have very fine hair, so I can’t use a mousse. Instead, I just use coconut oil to get it shiny like a mirror. I love having greasy hair at all times. I’m not someone who needs to wash it a lot, so I’ll go three days with coconut oil in or a leave in a mask like the Bumble and bumble Creme de Coco Masque. I’ll leave that in for two or three days and slick my hair back day and night and ride it out because I like it to get grimy. After a few days, I work up a nice, big lather and emerge from the shower clean.
Right before I go out, I like to put Diana Vreeland Parfums Daringly Different on the back of the neck or under my hair because when someone comes in to hug you, they can smell it. It’s a personal preference—I just think it’s sexier.
My dress tonight is by Barbara Bui, and if you look at the tag, you’ll see it’s a special edition. It belonged to this wonderful woman who worked with Barbara, and it was her personal dress. I borrowed it, and she told me to keep it because she liked it on me, so it’s my favorite. It covers up my boobs but still shows leg, and it’s tight but not over-the-top. I usually choose things that aren’t fussy. I don’t want to be messing with my outfit on stage. At the moment, I want a cape—something attached to the thumb, so I can move. There’s always a lot of movement. I like an accoutrement, as they say. You could put me in the highest, most uncomfortable shoes ever, and I could perform for two hours, no problem, but I guess when I perform I mostly opt for a good, middle-of-the-road boot.
As soon as I’m done performing, I eat bread and run home. After a performance, there’s so much of that 'Hello! Thank you for coming!' stuff, and you want to let everyone know how grateful you are that they came out. For me, I really want people to know that I appreciate them, so that takes a lot out of me. Plus the show itself will take a lot out of me. It’s an energy sucker—a beautiful one—but I really put everything into it.
So after all that and saying thank you to everyone, I really want a quiet moment. I’m not someone who wants to run out to the next spot. I’ll definitely come home and kind of recollect myself, but my number one thing is to get my makeup off. That’s what excites me, oddly. I’ll do my makeup peel, the Knutek MD Omega Peel, without any water. I just put it straight on in a thin layer and then leave it on for about two minutes. When I rub it off, I feel all the dead skin cells coming off. It’s a really deep, intense clean, which I have to go to bed feeling.
Immediately after I do a peel, I’ll rinse with 302 Sensitive Cleanser RX. I use BioDerma Sensibio H20 as eye-makeup remover because it has a nice shape to the bottle, and I appreciate that. It just feels fancy to me. Then, I redo all my serums, apply moisturizer again, and focus on the décolletage by applying the same products.
I always slip into something a bit more comfortable, and by that I mean something silky. I like to have my nice lingerie and my silky, satiny things and little robes. I live with my boyfriend in a small place, and we know everything that’s going on with each other at any given time, so it’s kind of nice to put on a little show. I don’t usually dress up that much. It’s almost more dressy when I undress. At my bedside I have my Traditional Medicinal's Throat Coat tea with lemon. I always try to get laid, too. I don’t have to try too hard. [Laughs] I just love that moment after when I fall back into the pillow and say, 'I love you.''
—as told to ITG
Caroline Vreeland interviewed by Yasi Salek and photographed in Los Angeles by Emily Knecht on June 9, 2015. Top Shelf After Dark goes backstage with Seinabo Sey as she gets ready to play in front of the Music Hall of Williamsburg. ITG talks nighttime outfits with Dana Wright and Claire Distenfeld, too.