Style Profile: Avant-garde rocker Kristeen Young
With a four-octave voice eerily similar to Kate Bush's and onstage bravado rivaling Karen O.'s, up-and-coming music artist Kristeen Young doesn't have to dress like a walking art project — but her nervy, Gaga-lite style makes her even more interesting.
The St. Louis native and New York resident is in town for a residency at the Hotel Cafe this month to promote her new album, "V the Volcanic," which was produced by Tony Visconti, who helped shape the sounds of iconic freaks including David Bowie, Morrissey and T. Rex.
But unlike Gaga — and, well, every other pop and rock star in existence — Young designs and makes most of her onstage clothing herself, having recently picked up sewing after years of using "Scotch tape and Elmer's glue" to cobble together outfits, she said.
"First I moved up the adhesive ladder to more professional glues," said Young. "After that, I started hand sewing, but I reached a point where I realized that I had to give in and get a sewing machine because everything was taking so long."
The fruits of Young's labors range from deconstructed dresses and tops festooned with huge, clownish layered collars to a Marlene Dietrich-cum-chola striped pants suit.
Her get-ups often boast fascinator-esque hats and are always punctuated by now-trademark kooky eye makeup, defined by vibrant shadow and white slashes under her eyes.
"Fantasy with a purpose" is how she describes her onstage ensembles, which "help put me in a particular mind-set."
She added, "I also think it gives the audience a setting to understand the music more — particularly since I'm not at the level where I can have a stage set. It creates a larger creative scope. And I love having an opportunity to think visually, when I'm usually having to think aurally."
Kristeen Young plays the Hotel Cafe on May 16 at 9 p.m. and May 24 at 8 p.m.
-- Emili Vesilind
Photos: Kristeen Young in two self-made outfits. Credit: Kristeen Young.