It’s as if this 19-year-old singer, model and lover of all things Edie Sedgwick simply stepped out from the pages of a 1960’s history book. Exceptionally knowledgeable about Andy Warhol, Studio 54, Silver Hill (after which her EP is named) and The Factory, you’d think this L.A.-bred miss was born at the height of that era. Clearly, her music emits the same tune. The pop and rock mesh explodes for listeners sending them into a psychedelically-charged atmosphere that is quite reminiscent of any and all drug use. Speaking with Phlo Finister was an enjoyably wild ride into the realm of socialite living and London dreams. Without further ado, take a peek into this newly approved Vixen’s world. –Niki McGloster
How’d you come up with the name?
My real name is Elijah. But around the age of 15, me and my best friend were taking photographs and stuff, and he just gave me the name “Phlo”. He just started calling me that and everyone just picked up on it, and Finister is my real last name.
Who is Phlo Finister?
I don’t know. I can’t really say that it’s one thing, you know? It’s more of a branding type think with me.
You’re pop, punk, rock, hip-hop and dubstep. How, specifically, would you categorize your music?
I just wanted to make music that was realistic to my lifestyle, and I wanted to speak out to the youth. When I was growing up, I would always listen to a certain type of music, which was, like, classic rock and 90’s grunge rock. I really felt the lyrics, and I just wanted to tell my story through music and to definitely inspire the youth. There’s a movement that’s going on with young people and, I feel, with a certain sense of realism, it can connect with people.
Hell yeah. Also, with young people, there’s a more outright and upfront use of drugs, mainly marijuana, so tell me your thoughts on this whole movement of rebellion.
Well, I didn’t drop the album on 4/20 because of it being the day of marijuana; it was a tribute to Edie Sedgwick because she was born on 4/20. It was just really cool because with the storyline and with what I was doing, it would be perfect to pay homage to her on her birthday. But as far as my thoughts on rebellion and stuff, I just feel that we’re the modernized 60’s. Back then, the movement was really based on free love and coming together and music. They had great stuff going on like Woodstock, and I feel like our generation is headed that way, you know? With all of this viral stuff that’s going on with breakout artists like Odd Future and Lil B, it’s cool that people aren’t afraid to be themselves. I don’t think it’s a sense of rebellion; I think it’s more so people just being who they are and not afraid to be that. I love Odd Future, man. [Laughs]
What is it about them that you love?
I love the fact that they’re just straight up twisted. The things that they say remind me of the thoughts that go on in my head and that I might tweet from time to time. And I just love that they’re really free-spirited and outgoing and they’ve captivated the hipster culture with what they’re doing. It’s really cool. Even though they’re rap [artists], they’re being considered as rock and roll [artists]. It’s like opening up a new genre of rap and hip-hop.
Do you feel the same way about Lil B and his movement?
No. I actually prefer Casey Veggie over Lil B. [Laughs]
[Laughs] Well to jump back to what you were saying about Edie, how did that love for her and her becoming your muse come into play?
The situation with Edie stems from a relationship I was in with a guy who makes music as well. He was really into Andy Warhol and a lot of classic rock, and his favorite artist was Bob Dylan. It’s a crazy story because Bob Dylan and Edie Sedgwick use to date in the 60’s. [Laughs] It was a relationship that was under wraps because he left her around the time Andy Warhol kicked her out of The Factory. He abandoned her and she was into drugs. I just felt there was a really big connection between my life and her life, in comparison to the drugs and the social scene where everything was based on pop culture. I feel like her story is one of the most tragic stories that took place in the 60’s during the pop [and] art movement.
You mentioned a comparison between Edie’s drug use and yours. Can you elaborate on that?
Well, I’ve done drugs since I was 16 years old. I was exposed to it when I was younger, and it was a getaway. It was like entering a new world, so with the drug influence I wanted to make music that was kind of psychedelic to elaborate on the drug use I had experienced in my earlier years. I don’t do it now, but when I was younger, I was getting trippy. [Laughs]
Wow. What specific drugs were you using?
I’ve experienced cocaine, heroine and ecstasy. I’m kind of open about it because I would really want people in the youth to know how real it is.
What drew you to that lifestyle at the time?
It was sort of an outlet. I was numbing feelings, I was a very depressed child, I was very manic and the thing with me and drug use came in like a getaway. But when music came for me, that became my drug. That’s why in my music, with me not doing drugs anymore, I still make references to it because I feel like music is my drug now. That’s why my album is [titled] Silver Hill because that was a famous rehab in Connecticut that Edie Sedgwick went to when she was a child. So yeah, I just wanted to make that correlation with drugs and music and how it’s helped me.
Dope. Now, let’s transition for a bit. Tell me how you became the stylist for Elektrik Red.
Basically, I was a fashion editor at Persona Magazine, and I was a model before that. It was really cool because I just took my connections that I built off modeling and started pulling clothes from the designers and stuff. I just kind of fell into it. I appreciate it and I was definitely humbled through it, but I wouldn’t do the experience over again to be honest. I’ve always loved music. But I realized that there were steps that I needed to take in order to be more inclined in the music I was making.
So, how would you describe your personal style?
I’m really into mod fashion. It was called the “Youthquaker” movement that was going on in the 60’s, and it featured girls like Jean Shrimpton, Edie Sedgwick and Twiggy. It was in the center of London where it was going down, and it was a music and fashion movement.
You did mention that you’re moving to London, right?
Yeah. I feel like in the UK, that’s where my market is, and for me to go out there and to move with my best friend Peaches Geldof, I just think it’s going to be like a dream come true almost. It’s one step closer to my success. As I was saying too, London is where the Youthquaker movement started, and I feel like I’m going back to the roots of everything I stand for.
Are you done pursuing modeling?
I did some modeling weeks ago, but, with that, I don’t have an agent, so I’m going to wait until I get with an agency and then I’m really going to pursue it to the next level.
If you could model for your dream brand what would it be and why?
Dolce & Gabbana because Peaches is endorsed by them and I love the brand. [Laughs] It’s more of the idea of not being a dream and actually being possible.
Why do you feel people should listen to you and support your movement?
I’ve dealt with a lot of hardships in life, and if you want to hear an artist that’s not only pop but actually real, telling their story and making things relevant then you would want to listen to me. I really don’t make music for myself; I make music for the people who are just like me and may feel the same way or have gone through the same things that I’ve gone through, so they don’t feel alone. I just want to help people with what I’m doing.
Download Silver Hill here and follow Phlo at @Phlojoe!