Monday, September 20, 2010

Taylor in Celebs On Sunday (Sep 2010)

article scans: here

Taylor Momsen: From Gossip Girl to Goth Queen
Taylor Momsen, 17, was the good girl of Gossip Girl turned rock chick. She talks to us about being Madonna’s muse, growing up fast and being the weird kid at school…

Call us cynical, but we reckon the reason a lot of our fave soap stars are so convincing is that they are playing themselves… ouch! But no one can accuse Taylor Momsen - who plays Gossip Girl’s sweet-turned-tough Queen Bee Jenny Humphrey - of that.

Strutting across a field at the V Festival in Essex, she’s dressed in ‘stripper chic’. And with her super-long hair extensions, she looks like she’s channelling a cross between Courtney Love and Daryl Hannah in Splash. Here to perform with her band The Pretty Reckless, she’s sporting seriously heavy black kohl eyes and her favourite thigh-skimming studded vintage corset customised by a friend’s label, Sex Trash. Despite the mud, she’s wearing her trademark 3-inch stripper shoes with a slot in the see-through platforms where she stores paper money from countries she’s recently toured. ‘It’s useful for emergencies,’ she jokes, with a curl of her mouth which passes for a smile.

We’re warned by her publicist ahead of our chat that Taylor, 17, doesn’t do cheesy smiling for photographs, preferring the moody pout of rock heroes like Marilyn Manson and Kurt Cobain. But, unlike other precocious teen stars who try too hard to be ‘edgy rock and roll’, she does seem to walk the walk. We like her already. ‘Sorry, but I can’t sit for pictures in this outfit, it’s boned,’ she apologises. The girl has a point, plus if it was any shorter or tighter she’d be wearing it as a scarf! ‘I mean yeah, your individual style is your impression to the world. Mine’s probably a bit more aggressive than I am on a daily basis. But I’ve been known to be quite opinionated, I think opinionated is a good thing.’

And we’re off. First stop on the opinion train is her Gossip Girl role. ‘Well I’m not my character, I’m an actress and I’m a completely different person to Jenny. You see me on TV every week and I look the same, so fans think they know me and my life. But it’s not my life, my life is very, very different. I mean it’s dark and twisty and whatever people might say about the record (her debut album Light Me Up) - it’s all, “Oh she’s crazy” but they don’t mean it in a negative way. Yes, I have a personality.’

Can’t argue with that, and let us tell you having an opinion is easier said than done in this age of media training (showbiz-speak for boring soundbites). Just days before, Taylor caused havoc by saying she hated people confusing pop with rock and allegedly lashed out at pop goddess Rihanna for wearing leather jackets… the uniform reserved for hardcore rockers. Other, less articulate, stars might refuse to talk about the incident - not Taylor.

‘That’s why the press sucks because they misquote me all the time. I wasn’t dissing Rihanna. That song she just did with Eminem is genius. She’s very talented and a great performer. I was trying to make the point there’s no rock right now and I was saying that I wanted to bring that back and my band is different to what’s been seen in a while. The younger generation don’t listen to the classics like Led Zeppelin and The Beatles, who I grew up with. My little sister doesn’t know about any of that. So my point was that the closest thing to what youth thinks is rock is when someone has a guitar in their pop song and wears a leather jacket. I just think it’s a shame they haven’t been taught the difference yet.

‘I loved dancing growing up so I listened to rock records in my spare time, but I danced to Britney Spears. Pop has to exist and it’s a great thing. But there needs to be a balance. To set the record straight, I think Rihanna is fantastic and looks great. In fact I think everyone should have a leather jacket in their wardrobe. If you don’t have a leather jacket in your wardrobe get one!,’ she smiles (ah, gotcha!).

OK, so just to recap. A scarily focussed teenager who knows what she wants, how to get it and is not afraid to say what she thinks. Oh, and did we mention the controversial video for her single Miss Nothing, where she does her take on Mary Magdalene, in stilettos and silver underwear. Remind you of anyone? Yep, Madonna. No wonder Taylor was the obvious choice when Madge wanted someone to model daughter Lourdes’ new teen rock fashion line, Material Girl.

‘I get told all the time that I’m a fashion icon now, but I don’t really now what that means. I just get dressed. But yeah it’s great when I’m called Madonna’s muse. She’s an icon. So to be asked to model for her line was an honour. She came to the shoot and took some pictures. She’s hands-on with the styling and was ripping up shirts and stuff and even took some of the pictures. Lourdes is a smart, super-talented girl. She was more on top of things and organised than some of the adults there. Madonna said she was a fan of the band, hopefully she’ll come and see a show at some point when she’s not jet-setting across the world.’’

Taylor, who grew up in Connecticut, has been working since she was two. At seven she stole the show in The Grinch That Stole Christmas, then was pipped to the role of Hannah Montana by Miley Cyrus. Growing up so fast, it’s no wonder the songs on her album are far from girly.

‘People hear lyrics like, “Make me want to die” which is a really sad song and they’re like, “That’s so mean.” Yeah, it’s a heavy record, but it’s about life, and life is not rainbows and butterflies. I haven’t lived a normal life and even though I did go to school I was in and out. I had like, two friends growing up, but now my band is like my family. I didn’t have the chance to go to school and be normal. I was always kind of the weird kid who was in movies and I was very shy. I also went to a Catholic school and now I have a song called Goin’ Down, so enough said! And when I was at elementary school in Missouri I used to wear knee-high socks and got made fun of all the time, now I’m famous for my thigh-highs. Ironic.‘

Signed to model agency IMG at 14, she’s also got a New Look campaign under her belt and has just become the face of John Galliano’s new perfume.

‘I know I’m still a f***ing teenager. I still like to go shopping and do all those normal things, but the reality is I’ve been working for 15 years. But my strange kind of life so far has given me an insight into the world that might take some people longer to learn.’

Not that she’s complaining. Despite her no smiling policy, she can’t hide her excitement at seeing some of the V Festival headliners. ‘I love The Prodigy, Stereophonics and Paul Weller! I think we’re playing on the same stage as Paul Weller tomorrow. Awesome!’



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