Impeccable makeup, big hair, and even bigger heels are just a few of the characteristics that embody the creative aesthetic of internet sensation and up-and-coming clothing designer, Jeffree Star. While most teenagers are researching colleges to attend and possible life routes to follow, Jeffree already had his career intact at an early age. From accidental musical artist, to not-so-accidental innovative makeup artist, this young entrepreneur has taken full advantage of the exploding opportunities that have come his way. Get to know our June This Miss KL, and see why we've fallen in love with the down to earth, out-of-the-box individual that is Jeffree Star.
You were born as Jeffrey Lynn Steninger and now go by the name of Jeffree Star. Can you tell me a little bit about the transition? What exactly spawned the idea to change your name and image?
Well first of all, no one really knew how to pronounce my last name. But besides that, I really just created a character to escape from my past, and get away from the person I knew I wasn't. You can't choose your family or parents, or the circumstances you're born into. I went through a lot of crazy shit in my childhood and I really wanted to transform myself into someone else and go the complete opposite direction of everyone else around me.
How would you describe yourself as a teenager? How are you different now?
We all grow up. As a teenager I was really angry. I had a lot of animosity towards people. Now I'm totally laid back, but back then I would just be really mean to people who would look at me weird and give me dirty looks. But now I don't care what anyone thinks of me. When you're younger, you're really insecure as a person, and I was just really crazy. I always feel old when I look back at being 16 after you've grown so much as a person. There's still a lot of similarities between now and my youth , I still like to scream at people for fun and actwild, but at least my makeup skills have gotten better.
What inspired your love for makeup artistry?
When I was about 12 years old, I began experimenting with makeup over the influence of my mother. I constantly had my nose in the pages of Vogue, and would start replicating some of my favorite editorial looks on myself. I was in love with the idea of being able to change yourself; the idea of being a chameleon and putting on a mask. In high school so many people would complement me on my own makeup. Not once did I get any negative comments. It first started as a curiosity, and then I started doing makeup for other people at school for dances and stuff. It was just a really positive thing. It's kind of funny because not an interview goes by that I don't get the question, "Were you bullied as a teen for wearing makeup?" That was never the case. People actually appreciated the way I looked. I wasn't bullied until I started doing music and grew a following on the internet. Now I get bullied all the time. It's reverse. Back then I would have been more sensitive to the insults, but now I feel like I've heard every insult in the book.
How did you first get into making music?
It was actually just kind of like an experiment that started when me and a few friends decided to mess around and record some stuff at a house. It was really low quality and simple…but we were just having fun. I ended up putting it on the internet and was super surprised to see that it received amazing feedback. I was pretty shocked at the positive reaction from everyone. Out of nowhere people started booking me for shows without me even trying. I've never even played a show before, but the phone was ringing off the hook, and I was getting an overwhelmingly amount of emails. Obviously nothing was planned, and at the time I would just bring around my IPod with the music and perform that way. Then I started doing real tours, like Warped tour, and gradually started headlining my own tours. Traveled the whole world, and now I'm here. I'm now signed to AKONS label, and currently working on my next CD since my break. Not sure when I'm going to release the whole album, yet. I have a single coming out this summer, but the actual release date won't be for some time. Art takes time.
What inspires you when writing music?
When writing new music, I usually like to take various experiences from my life and put them in the form of a song. It can be as simple as a crazy night out. For instance, in my single "Prom Night" from last year, we went to this prom-themed party in Vegas, where everyone was acting real ratchet and psycho, and for some reason that really inspired me to sit down and write a song about that experience. Just aspects of my life. The next album I'm doing is called Concealer which is much more serious and taps into my relationships and love life, which is stuff I didn't really touch on in the past. I'm growing up, and I want my music to reflect that.
Is there an emotion or idea you want to get across to the listener?
I want them to feel more depth. I feel like most people think all I ever talk about is partying and sex, but even with my first album "Beauty Killer" a few years ago, half of the record was filled with serious music, like deep dark love songs, which is the path I'm looking to keep following. Life is not just all about sex and makeup, and that's what I want to showcase in this upcoming album. There's way more to me than that.
What is one memory you will never forget from touring?
There's just so many I can hardly choose, but I think the one memory I will never forget is getting the opportunity to meet the fans, and the people who have supported me since day one.
A lot of people my age can mostly recall first hearing about you during the Myspace era. How has social media (Myspace specifically) helped flourish your career as a makeup artist, model, and musical artist?
I really give the internet in general credit for just helping me START everything I've ever done. I couldn't imagine living in a world where I couldn't just click on something and show the world. I'm lucky enough that being myself just worked for me. It's crazy. A lot of people always ask for advice about how I did what I did, but there's really no blue print to it. I think just always being real and staying true to myself really helped me get to where I am. It's a lot of hard word. I know that people half the time think that sitting on the internet all day is a waste of time, but really, it's hard work, there's so many outlets and apps to use to update, and always stay on the new thing. When Instagram first started, no one knew how big it would get. Now when you walk into a restaurant everyone seems to be on Instagram. It's cool though. The internet changed my life, and I wouldn't be where I am now without it.
We live in a world that unfortunately judges people by their appearance. What is one assumption people mostly have about you when first seeing you/meeting you?
It's weird, but people usually assume that I'm really mean. I don't even know why. People have said that I look intimidating. I get that a lot. Maybe it's the eyebrows or the makeup, or the fact that I don't really smile in pictures (it's not really my thing. People get so mad when I don't smile). When people first meet me, I always get, "Wow you're actually REALLY nice!" and I'm like, "Yes, why would you think otherwise?" I guess it's the vibe that comes across over the internet. I'm confident, and I think people take that the wrong way. I just get a lot of times, "You're way more down to earth" or "You're a lot nicer than I thought." People just see hair, makeup, clothes and tattoos, and think that I'm just this really superficial person, but my appearance doesn't dictate my life.
Who would you say the typical "Jeffree Star" fan is?
My fan base is 90% girls. I feel like they get confidence from me to be who they are but I think it's just people that get individuality and fun, and like fashion and makeup.
Where do you see your career expanding? Is there anything you'd like to accomplish in the next 5 years?
I'm really just an entrepreneur. I have my music which I'm getting back into, and now I have the clothing line which is just jumping off. I mean, my brand is going to be on the Warped Tour, we're killing it on Karmaloop - there's just so much going on right now. The next thing I want to do is work on the Jeffree Start makeup line which I think is a no-brainer. People keep asking me about when I'm going to start my own makeup line, so I've been secretly developing that. I would also love to do higher end shoes and clothes, candles, fragrances…maybe an adult toy line. I have so many ideas. There are so many possibilities. For now, I'm taking it one step at a time…who knows where you'll see me next!