Juliette Commagere - Design Bureau

Juliette Commagere

Juliette Commagere

Juliette Commagere

Juliette Commagere

Juliette Commagere

Monday, December 27th, 2010

Juliette Commagere may be best known as the keytar-playing badass from Hello Stranger, but since 2008, the musician has been making a name for herself as a solo artist with her debut disc Queens Die Proudly and latest release,The Procession. Commagere felt she was taking a gamble with her musical career when she decided to take a break from the band to focus on her solo career, but it was a risk that ultimately paid off for the young singer; one that resulted in finding herself and her personal style.

“I admit I was afraid at first to sort of just be in charge of everything,” she says of making her first album. “There were ideas that I had that I might not have brought to the band because I thought that they were too experimental and strange. So with my music, I wasn’t afraid of failing because it was my fault and nobody else’s. It completely changed my life, and that’s why I decided to make a second record. It was really a big turning point for me.”

When recording The Procession, due out this fall, the Los Angeles-based songstress felt no pressure to make her album radio-friendly, and as a result, her intricate arrangements delve deeper into the classical compositions that have inspired her work. “I think that [this album is] pushing boundaries even more [than my first solo album],” she says. “I wanted to try and be even more experimental and to just let the songs unfold.”

Whatever I’m into, I just become obsessed with and I go around and buy whatever I can. I’m a hoarder basically; I’m not afraid to say it.

After Commagere finished recording The Procession, she turned her attention to her love of crafting. “After we finished the record, I just started making things,” she says. “I guess it’s just a need to always be creating something, whether it’s music or something with my hands.” The reason many of her stage outfits look like they are one-of-a-kind is because they are all handmade by Commagere herself, including the brown feathered caplet she often pairs with some of her favorite dresses. She also handcrafted the feather headpiece she dons on the cover of The Procession. The Mayan-inspired creation pays homage to Commagere’s Mexican heritage. “It took me three days to make. There was a lot of trial and error involved,” she says “but I can just get lost in projects for days at a time.”

She also happens to be quite the vintage connoisseur, with her current fixation on all things Victorian. “Right now I’m really obsessed with Victorian clothing, so I’ve been collecting little beaded capes and long cotton nightgowns,” she says. “Whatever I’m into, I just become obsessed with and I go around and buy whatever I can. I’m a hoarder basically; I’m not afraid to say it.” Some of her favorite L.A. spots to shop for vintage goods include Tavin and Shareen Vintage, which is located in a downtown warehouse. “That’s like a girl’s heaven over there. There are no boys allowed and there are no dressing rooms, so it’s just like, tons of girls in their underwear. And there’s candy. It’s really awesome,” she says. Commagere has also found some of her favorite pieces by scouring resale shops while on the road. “I find so many things on tour because L.A. is very expensive,” she says. “I found a Whiting and Davis beaded shawl for $30 dollars, and I’ve seen it in vintage stores for $500.”

Commagere’s solo efforts have also allowed her the opportunity to tour overseas, which has added a new element to her creative process. “I get very romantic and wistful when I’m away from home, so I think my perspective on life changes. [I’ll] be on this long train ride and just look out the window and watch the scenery change, and it’s this very romantic feeling that you get caught up in,” she says. “Lyrics and melodic ideas come very quickly. It’s kind of like your brain can just be free and you’re not worrying about going to buy groceries and doing laundry. You don’t have to worry about any of that stuff when you’re on the road.”

When not on the road, Commagere calls L.A.’s Echo Park neighborhood home, where she is settling into married life with husband Joachim Cooder. “You can see downtown from the porch, and from the back you can see the Griffith Observatory,” she says. “It’s really a magical little house. I never want to leave it.”  The couple recently painted their living room black for a music video shoots for her songImpact off of The Procession. They liked it so much that Commagere decided to make it the room’s main focal point and she actually built the rest of the room’s décor around it, a style she refers to as “gothic hippie”. “Now that the living room is black, [I’ve added] a lot of gold elements to it, I like a lot of natural elements. I’m not really that into plastic furniture. There’s a lot of wood, leather, crystals and rocks, stuff like that. And I have my two strange feather headdresses on display,” she says. The result is a space that is mysterious yet inviting—similar to her music. “I think that there is an element of fantasy and experimentalism in my music that definitely influences my style,” she says. “I would like to think that I am creating something other-worldly, and I definitely want my style to reflect that.”

Text by Katie Fanuko
Photos by Bryan Sheffield


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