Written by Gemma Marshall
At the start of June, Legends of Tomorrow had the opportunity to speak with Brooklyn-based pop artist, rlyblonde, about her debut EP “Fantasy”. Here’s what she had to say:
Gemma Marshall: Can you start by introducing yourself? How did the project rlyblonde come to be and what does it mean to you?
Carina Allen: Hi! I'm Carina and I’m an artist living in Brooklyn, I’ve been working as a photographer for a long time but over the past two years have been working on my own music project finally, and now she’s finally here. The Fantasy EP really is a reflection of me getting to know myself better, evolving into a new version of who I am, and finding my voice as an artist. “rlyblonde” has always been my moniker, so even as a photographer that’s how people know me, but now I'm introducing a different version of her with my music.
GM: You’re releasing your debut EP “Fantasy” on June 2nd. Consisting of 5 tracks with major coming-of-age feelings, this EP is bound to be the perfect soundtrack of the summer. If you could pick one coming-of-age movie that would compliment this soundtrack perfectly, what would it be?
CA: Omg… good question. This is so corny but my first thought was that movie "Raise Your Voice” where Hilary Duff’s character wants to be a singer and like runs away to art school or something? Like that but if she also was gay at the end. Or I always just tell everyone I’m like the punk Elle Woods… I have a big thing for Legally Blonde.
GM: What was the overall inspiration for “Fantasy”? Did you pull any inspiration from any specific artists?
CA: I really love artists that have a sense of humor in their music or a certain self-awareness, I always name Liz Phair as a huge influence. I think the identity-crisis that launched this entire artistic pivot and reframing of my life sort of framed itself as this second puberty the past couple years, so I was really drawn to angsty pop-punk bands and classic 90s/2000s artists like Avril Lavigne, Paramore, Hole, Tonight Alive. And I also just wanted to make some good, catchy pop music. There’s a ton of pop music that I love, but not necessarily one particular artist. Sometimes a song is just a great earworm with yummy production and that’s kinda what I wanted to emulate.
GM: For years you were a go-to photographer, videographer and creative director for several of NYC’s indie musicians. What made you take the leap from behind the scenes to a performer?
CA: I think I’ve always sort of had this pipe dream of releasing my own project but just didn’t feel capable or like I had the tools. Up until recently, I didn’t really play guitar beyond the 4 chords I learned in high school and I didn't know how to produce. I was always so focused on photography and working that I didn’t leave a lot of time for other hobbies. But finally I just hit a point in my life where I was like, no more fucking around, you have to just do what you love and start somewhere. So I taught myself guitar, took a songwriting class, wrote a million demos, and finally it came together.
GM: Was being a performer something you’ve always wanted to do? Does having those prior experiences in the music scene benefit you as a musician?
CA: Oh I was a huge theater kid and huge choir kid, so it’s kinda always been in my blood I think. Performing for me is this chance to be this over the top, fabulous, unabashed unapologetic version of myself. It’s so freeing and fun, I almost can’t believe I went for years without having a proper outlet like this. I am really grateful for my community and network surrounding music here in NYC, I feel like I wouldn’t have had the proper push to do this without them. But I think I’ve always been a performer at heart. I think she was sleeping for a very long time.
GM: Your image is clearly a big part of this project – almost 80’s glamour meets grunge. Can you tell us a little bit about that image and what it means for rlyblonde?
CA: Thank you!! In the way I’ve been a performer in other capacities in the past, I also spent some time modeling, I’ve done a lot of self-portraiture work. With modeling I found that I hated when other people had control of my look and style. I enjoyed being in front of the camera, but I didn’t really ever feel comfortable if the styling didn’t feel authentic to me. I turned more to self-portraiture, and a lot of my makeup & styling choices / creative direction sort of towed this line of campy drag and fashion. Once I started having ideas for visuals to go along with the music, it clicked that I was just playing off and expanding on what I’d been doing for years. Now that I can express myself fully as an artist I’m able to use my image as an extension of my personality and my art in a really intentional way, which is really fun for me.
GM: With the drop of “Fantasy” should listeners expect future shows as well as potentially more music the rest of the year? If so, tell us a bit about what’s in the cards for you for 2023.
CA: Yes! We will be playing more NYC shows this summer and possibly an LA date in October! I’ll be playing “Sad Girl Hours” at Heaven Can Wait in NYC on June 22 and again later in August. I am already working on the next project but we’ll see how long it takes to come together. Music is really a labor of love, and I have huge ideas. This is the summer of Fantasy, for sure. I’m excited to play more and share the music with more people.