Hair, Music, Youth, Freedom

The further I dive into the beauty industry, the more I see how many enthusiastic, ambitious and passionate hairdressers have connections with the music industry. It is one of those fascinating ideas that should have been obvious, but never fully clicked until this past year and now I can’t stop seeing the connections. So many of the iconic hairstyles of the last fifty years have been made famous by different music icons (The Beatles, David Bowie, Bob Dylan, Kurt Cobain, even Justin Bieber…)

Thinking about music and hair and all the connections brings me back in time to my teen years. Now, I have little musical talent, but music was always extremely important to me. I was by all accounts a pretty nerdy kid growing up. And more than a little weird. I had a uniform of band shirts with collared shirts underneath and jeans. Dressed up was the same outfit, but with a plaid skirt, knee socks and a bow tied around my calf. I chopped at my own hair with reasonable success. I was a quiet, straight-A student and this was as rebellious as I got. I had a quiet angst that expressed itself through looking completely oblivious to fashion trends (other than sort of looking like an indie boy sometimes). I felt most alive at small shows at the WOW Hall in Eugene, OR, letting my epileptic dance moves writhe free.

I never thought of myself as “into” fashion, but I was always intrigued by it, studying Vogue imagery in waiting rooms and admiring the perfection, even though at the time I found no connection to it. My “fashion” came out of nowhere. Like the questions of whether something was relevant or appropriate never popped into my head.

In college I was constantly covered in paint, duct tape, clay, etc, and dressed in jeans and oversized men’s shirts and the occasional sundress. I had the artsy/quirky look down and showered rarely, especially in Pittsburgh winters. I let my hair grow wild.

But eventually I graduated and went to beauty school, graduated that and began a desperate search to find my professional image as a hair stylist.

Long story short, the further I get in my career, the more I feel myself grow in confidence and revert back to some of my old gut feelings and style impulses. A little over a year ago I was in Berlin and the style there was so inspiring to me. To see how effortless and sort of dirty these people looked, yet they still had an unmistakeable sense of style and confidence. Now I am not back to band shirts by any means, and admittedly, I am a bit of a fabric snob, but I feel like a grown up version of who I used to be, as opposed to the beauty professional I imagined myself to be.

Part of this has also been a return to music. I’ve been back at shows for the first time in years. Back in tiny rooms packed with sweaty people, where the music is raw and the music is LOUD and I yell along and feel this surge of emotion and it is inspiring.

Music events also happen to be the best place for hair gazing. There are a lot of do-it-yourself hack jobs that are kind of inspiring to me, either because they are awful or because they have something interesting going on. So many textures and so many shapes. The kinds of shows I go to the people usually don’t do much to manipulate their hair texture so everything is real and it is all about the cut. You get people with a sass and spunk and they aren’t afraid (or don’t want to look afraid) of anything. I remember loving the hair gazing at shows well before I was cutting anyone else’s hair, and far, far before I ever even considered it as a profession.

In the world of music, especially indie music, image is important, but in a way that doesn’t feel superficial, but rather an outward expression of where we are on the inside. There is a confidence and a ease present. An awkward, yet solid, sense of identity. It is no wonder to me why so many musicians have awesome hair and why some of them eventually end up as hairdressers.

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Enjoy these photos of me as an angsty teen.

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