Soft, But Steady
All the other stuff––feeling the need to perform gender in a specific way, dealing with body image issues––is extra, and she works through it in her art. Most recently that’s meant playfully coming out as sexually fluid in her single “Booty Getting Fatter!” “I hate the fact that we’re still in a place where you have to come out in general,” she said, “It’s seen as a touchy subject, but it's not––it’s a part of me, I’m not ashamed of it.”
In real life, Gladstone is more unassuming ’60s flowerchild than modern-day internet savvy artist. But she’s both those things and more––and that’s a big part of her message. “Open-mindedness is very important to me. And anti-fixed mindset is a huge part of what I do. Like everyone, I’m always growing and learning.” That’s why she named her debut EP “Grow,” out this week––it’s a tribute to her belief that we can always make more room to be truer and more accepting of ourselves.
Her own path to self-acceptance hasn't been a straightforward journey––in fact, it's a road she's still navigating. But she embraces the obstacles along the way with jazzy, raspy vocals on tracks like “LonelyAsFck,” singing about the relatable struggle of being a romantic recluse. Aside from getting real about her feelings, lyrically "Grow" is all revolution and reinvention.
office sat down with Gladstone to talk aliens, boobs and haboobs. Read our interview, below.
How did music begin for you?
For me, it was the one thing that I did. My family is very musical in general, so it was always a big part of my life. I just knew from when I was a little kid that it was what I would pursue. It made me not stress out about school and all kinds of shit that I feel like I would have been stressed out about.
What about performing? Was that always as inherent to your identity?
I would say performing is harder for me than making music. It also came with age––I got more shy. I would have these talent shows at school that I’d be preparing original songs for, and I didn’t feel shy. There’s all these videos of me from first and second grade being really out there. But as I got older I got a layer of anxiety and it became harder for me to perform. Playing keys and singing came naturally to me, but I realized I’d been using a keyboard as a crutch. It was easier for me to jam with the music if I stood behind a keyboard because it’s a way of putting myself out there less.
Well Instagram can work similarly as a crutch or a support system in communicating yourself; and I know you use Instagram a lot, so how does it filter into the way you work?
Even though Instagram isn’t real life, it feels like real life. There’ll be people in the music industry with tons of followers who aren’t selling out shows or selling records even. Instagram is very isolated to itself, it doesn’t actually have a big effect on other things. But then in our world, we view it in this way that it does. I try not to depend on it. I find comfort in it because I get a lot of support on Instagram. But I also find it exhausting and I feel like it’s not great for my mental health to be on there. After awhile you can see what does well on Instagram, and at the end of the day people don’t actually give a fuck what you’re doing.
I feel like I get sucked into the reactions and it becomes a part of my day. I think it’s overwhelmingly negative but I try to use it positively. Even if I’m posting nudity that people can sexualize, I’m just posting me, whatever the fuck I want. I’m not doing it based on what I think they’ll like.
Instagram is positive but can also be super negative because of peoples’ one-dimensional view of you, but why is it important to you to show what your body looks like?
It’s a very deep thing. Growing up I had so many body image issues, I continue to. From second to fifth grade, I fully identified as a boy. I had long hair and conventionally girl traits but I had everyone call me a boy. People really disrespected that growing up, but that was how I identified. And when I was in fifth grade I started developing boobs, and I was so fucking sad because I was growing these things that I felt weren’t a part of me. I was like, ‘Nobody’s going to call me a boy anymore.’ And then I realized I liked makeup, and back then, I was 10, I had such a conventional view of gender. I didn’t realize that I could still feel like a boy and wear makeup. I fell into this thing where I had to uphold the image I felt I created of being a boy. But I wanted to wear pink.
So I made the decision to stop identifying as a boy, even though I didn’t really feel like a girl. I developed really early and I always had big boobs, and people would make me really ashamed of my body. It really played into my unhealthy image of myself. So I wanted to take it back and I’m like, ‘Yo I don’t need to conceal my body.’ I realize it made me feel shitty to go along with people telling me that. I can do whatever the fuck I want with my body. This is my body and I’m not sorry for it. I shouldn’t have to feel ashamed.
What’s the most important thing to you that you portray to the world through your art?
I guess freedom, liberation. I like to be unapologetically me and I want everyone to be unapologetically themselves as long as they’re not harming anybody. I feel very empowered through my music and my whole career. And I can’t imagine if I was doing anything else feeling the way I feel now, because I’m given this platform to be me where I don’t have to fit any standard.
Open-mindedness is very important to me. And anti-fixed mindset is a huge part of what I do. Like everyone, I’m always growing and learning. I want to inspire growth in people, and I want people to know that they’re always evolving. So if they’re unhappy with who they are now, or certain aspects of their life, you’re always changing, and you can overcome that. I don’t always talk about happy things but I just want to be a source of positivity. It’s not a negative thing to go online and look at my stuff. I want it to be a safe space. If I could be a physical safe space, that would be the goal.
Yeah I love that. Do you have any internet obsessions right now?
This is not an obsession this is just something I found out the other day, talking to my friend from Arizona, but there’s all this shit that goes on in Arizona that I’m like, ‘What the fuck is that?’ Have you heard of haboob? Do you know what that is?
No. What is it?
They’re these fucking violent sandstorms that come over the whole fucking city, just tons of hot sand. It’s literally insane. It’s a natural disaster that happens in Arizona, and I’m like, why does nobody talk about this? My friend said [when they come] you have to pull over to the side of the road and wait it out, make sure the windows aren’t open. It’s like what else is going on out there that I’m missing out on?
There’s something going on with Area 51 too. Everyone’s like, ‘I’m gonna go find an alien.’
Dude. I’m always on that weird alien shit. Especially when I’m high. At night I get into these holes on the internet talking about these conspiracy theories about the government and aliens and shit and I’m always so in my feels. I’m like, ‘Oh my God.’
Do you have any conspiracy theories? I definitely think aliens are among us.
I have many. I don’t know which to talk about. I think the government knows a lot more than they say, I feel like shit is a lot more calculated than we would think. I always feel like I’m finding glitches.
Yeah when something weird happens and you’re like, ‘Oh the Matrix just glitched.’
Literally, it’ll be little things that all add up and I’m like, ‘Nah. There’s some shit going down right now.’