Rock on, gold dust woman, the bright lights shine on Alys Hale. Musician, model, like no other.
Sonic Youth's Kim Gordon croons "There's a new girl in your life", and as a model, Oxford scholar and frontwoman for Sydney rock outfit Haïr Dïe, Alys Hale has our full attention.
She turned to music at a young age at the encouragement of her family, and though at first she may strike you as shy, the sounds she creates are loud, guttural and electric. Her personal uniform, it fits the bill – “big boots, leather jackets, poorly fitting suits and a collection of T-shirts stolen from my partner” – and she’s happiest when she’s playing to a crowd, taking cues from iconic women with voices, like hers, that were made to be heard. Her brand of humour is dry, and she’s lightning quick with that inimitable British wit. RUSSH captured her for our Fall 2017 collection, Moon Shadow, and she let them in on the making of the muse.
What’s the first thing we should know about you?
I hate bananas.
What were you like as a kid? And what did you want to be when you grew up?
I was pretty strange as a child, extremely curious and often a little too imaginative. I was obsessed with ancient myths and loved cutting and sticking. I wanted to be a fairy, an actor or a writer.
Tell us about your introduction to modelling ...
I got scouted at a music festival and remember being so shocked and nervous my lip wouldn’t stop twitching ... I was convinced it was a joke to be honest. My mother and I were pretty sceptical but within the week I was signed and shooting with Emma Summerton so it was, and still is, very surreal to me.
When did you decide music was something you wanted to pursue?
Music was the most important thing in my house growing up, and my father encouraged me to sing and play from a very young age. After I failed dismally at piano I began playing the flute which seemed to suit me better. When I was 13, he restrung a guitar for me for my birthday, and I haven’t really looked back since then.
You’re also a scholar. What and where did you study? And what did it teach you?
I studied English literature and language at Exeter College, Oxford. I was fortunate enough to have the most brilliant tutors who taught me about feminist literary theory, modernism and how to make my arguments less like a messy Jackson Pollock painting and more like a coherent, linear train of thought. Fundamentally, it taught me that you can never spend too much time reading nor can you work too hard.
If you’re in need of inspiration – to write, to make music – where do you turn?
I quite often turn to my friends. I’ll talk to them about how they feel, what they’ve been reading lately or how terrifying the news is. Alternatively, I’ll put a record on and just lie down and listen.
Who are your creative idols?
PJ Harvey, Angela Carter, Nick Cave, Margaret Atwood, Rowland S. Howard, Kathleen Hanna, Kim Gordon, Aphra Behn ... I think I have an idol for every occasion and there may be too many to list.
What are you listening to?
Sleater-Kinney, Pavement, Mag & The Suspects, Parquet Courts, The Moonlandingz, Deux, Turquoise Days, Gina X and a lot of BBC Radio 4.
What are your current obsessions?
PVC and teaching myself how to play the saxophone.
Tell us about your style ... How has it evolved over the years?
To be honest, it’s been fairly consistent. I’ve always worn a lot of black and tried to be fairly androgynous. There was an unfortunate era of a sequin blazer but beyond that I’ve consistently gone for a darker aesthetic ... I love old Helmut Lang, Ann Demeulemeester and clothes that say something about performative gender.
Early mornings or late nights?
Both ... One tends to lead to the other.
What’s your favourite place in the world?
What do you wish for?
In a cliché Miss World-esque answer, that someone would do something about that Donald Trump ...