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Cerise Leang photo


Gothed out youth lounging
in bath robes in Paris hotels

words + styling: Isabel Legate
images: Michael Abrego at Fast Ashley's studio
makeup: Jacqueline Fernandez

We meet up on a Monday evening at a coffee shop in Noho. Cerise Leang is tall, thin framed, with sharp, cat-like features. Reminiscent of a modern day Anna Karina with tousled bangs and a poised demeanor she sits across from me with a saucer sized cookie and a mug of tea.

I'm unsure what to expect from the musician whose dark ethereal voice calls on such influences as Mazzy Star and The Velvet Underground. Her music itself has the capacity to fill the air with a certain lightness almost like walking through fog. It has a way of encapsulating one's entire body with the drones and vibrations of guitar, drums, and synth that comprise Cerise's music. The underlying and uncannily ominous quality that can be heard throughout "Smoke Screen Dreams" and "To Go Away" is one that seemed to define my perception of Cerise herself. That is, until she began to open up about her lively past, the Chicago rave scene, and lounging around hotels in Paris wearing only a bath robe.

"We were the goth ravers" says Cerise jokingly about her teenage years in Chicago. "We would go in all black and fishnets and we'd be like 'we're just here for the drugs, were not doing anything raver-y.' It was her investment in punk and goth music, in bands like The Cure and New Order, which she first heard from her sister, that prompted her to begin dressing darker. "I used to get gothed out - it was kind of like dressing up in a way." Her interest in this darker music, in Siouxsie and the Banshees and Bauhaus, coincided perfectly with her entrance into high school. "There was just this scene going on at the school and there were all these punks and goths and I liked how they dressed so cool." What was interesting about this time period was that there were very few places one could go to buy punk or goth clothing so people "really made their own style by going to thrift stores."

Ever since I got into music I want to just stay home and work on stuff or save my energy.

Appalled over the current squalid state of St. Mark's she gets a little nostalgic. When Cerise first came to New York on a modeling whim with her mother she, being "gothed out" just wanted to hang out on the well known east village punk street with all the other people. "I'm kind of nostalgic for those days because it just isn't like that anymore." Not only did Cerise spend this trip hanging with the street kids but she also secured a job working for a modeling agency and was able in this way to make her life in New York for the next ten years. "I was so gung-ho to go to Paris and New York at such a young age and just experience things" said Cerise.

These days she does show room modeling for the New York Label Doo. Ri and is being whisked off to Paris for fashion week. "It's so funny because in Paris they always have to rent these hotels to show in and basically I'm in a bath robe all day until its time to change clothes. It's kind of nice sitting around eating croissants, I just think – 'this is my job?'" We both laugh at this but Cerise explains that music has always been her true passion.

"Ever since I got into music I want to just stay home and work on stuff or save my energy," she says. But, the difficulty comes in finding compatible people to play with. This summer she played shows in L.A. and in Austin where finding other musicians to fill out her tracks was easy. After visiting both of these cities she says "I'm feeling like moving in a way" but nothing is set in stone quite yet. "You know once you get used to New York it's almost kind of scary to think about leaving because once you're in it and you have your shit settled people get scared to leave thinking they'll have to start from scratch or that they'll miss it" but, she continues, "What's a year though? I could definitely try something for a year."

+ Cerise Music

Cerise Leang photo