Images: Amanda Demme
Rain Phoenix is the whimsical singer and songwriter behind papercranes, an LA-based “project” with an ever-evolving roster of collaborators including her sisters Summer and Liberty. Phoenix, who has recently released her second full-length papercranes album, Let’s Make Babies In The Woods, does a lot more for the creative community than simply make music – she is also involved in high-profile charitable projects including the famed 30-member-plus political cabaret act, Citizens Band (with Karen Elson), as well as co-founding the non-profit artist-driven collective, Gift Horse Project (GHP). The collective organises concerts and exhibitions to raise awareness and funds for artist-driven charities, and has Phoenix’s brother, Joaquin, on the board of directors.
So far, GHP has produced seven shows throughout Paris, LA, and Marfa, Texas, raising funds and awareness for BRAND AID Haiti, Silverlake Conservatory of Music (founded by Phoenix’s long-time friend, Flea of Red Hot Chili Peppers), LAND and Art of Elysium’s ‘Elysium Sessions’. Each show has a rotating roster of musicians, so no two are the same – and adding to this creative mélange, GHP will soon involve visual art, with exhibitions and performances planned for later this year.
Phoenix’s inherent altruism is inspiring and rare in an industry that can often be swamped in self-promotion – this talented, genuinely down-to-earth artist is proving that collaboration wins over competition! Last year we had a rambling conversation over at East Village Thai NYC, now Rain continues the pow-wow, talking sexy and unsexy fashion and high-energy animal-instinct on-stage craziness with me for Sex & Fashion!
Indigo Clarke: When, how and where did your band meet and come together?
Rain Phoenix: papercranes has had many great musicians in our line up over the years. The band name is like a home of sorts for me to write and perform with different people. Currently, the band is Norm Block, Kirk Hellie, Dan Komin, Matt Cooker, Ameena Khawaja and Jason Borger. When I moved to LA after signing with Manimal Vinyl, I met these musicians.
Indigo Clarke: How would you describe your sound to someone who hasn’t heard it?
Rain Phoenix: I would ask them to listen and then describe our sound for me…
Indigo Clarke: Who writes the songs – is it a collaborative process? Is there anything in particular that inspires you to create or influences your music?
Rain Phoenix: I write the songs with different writers/musicians depending on the project. I also write a lot of them with my siblings. I’m inspired by nature, love, friendship, water and bands that don’t compromise their music for the industry.
Indigo Clarke: Have you always been involved with music? What are some highlights of your career so far?
Rain Phoenix: Yes, I’ve been performing since the age of three. I can sing. Why look a Gift Horse in the mouth?! I’ve guested on REM’s MONSTER and was a back up singer for the Red Hot Chili Peppers for two years.
Indigo Clarke: What are your live shows like? What are some of the craziest live experiences you (or your audience!) have had?
Rain Phoenix: Our live shows are high-energy animal instinct craziness! Best experiences involve a crowd that is as connected to us as we are them. The Symbiotic relationship of energy exchanged always makes for an awesome show!
Indigo Clarke: Fashion and music have a complex, often symbiotic, relationship – what are your thoughts on fashion, sexiness and music and how they influence each other?
Rain Phoenix: I think what you wear on stage is as important as any other facet of the show. It imparts an attitude and comfortability that can make or break a show. My sister Summer Phoenix has a label and store called Some Odd Rubies. Her partner Ruby and she know the importance of fashion and music, they make all my clothes for stage. They also understand that if I’m not comfortable, I’m gonna be distracted during a performance. They’ve worked hard to find the right type of costuming for me to be able to move freely while maintaining femininity and grace.
Indigo Clarke: What’s the sexiest outfit you’ve ever worn – and the unsexiest?
Rain Phoenix: Some Odd Rubies ‘Chain Mail Dress’ makes me feel like a warrior. A sexy female warrior. Some Odd Rubies makes sure I never have an unsexy moment!
Indigo Clarke: Exciting upcoming projects for you?
Rain Phoenix: We are about to start our June Residency in Los Angeles. Our record comes out in Europe July 11. We are planning to tour there in september in support of the record. I’m excited that we are about to release the first of three different FREE EP’s. Conceptually they are like three children or ‘babies’ from our record Let’s Make Babies In The Woods. They will be titled First Born, Middle Child and Baby.
Want sex? Need fashion? We’ll give it to you on Twitter…
Images: Amanda Demme