Jennifer Herrema and Mish Barber Way are two of our favorite front women. Herrema became iconic in the 90's with her band Royal Trux and having a heavy influence on fashion, music and art, even modeling for Calvin Klein. Lately, she has collaborated on a unisex fashion line with NOE, done three gallery shows in Scotland, Chicago and New York, all the while still making music with her current band, Black Bananas. More recently, Royal Trux reunited to great success.
Besides being in the punk band White Lung, Mish Barber Way is also an on-camera host and writer for VICE. Her work explores everything from deviant sex, to murder, pornography and fashion in various magazines such as The Guardian, Hustler, Los Angeles Times and more.
Herrema and Barber Way had known about one another for years but finally met last spring when Barber Way wrote a profile about Herrema for i-D. The two front woman remained friends, so we decided to ask these unique and influential musicians to interview one another about style, inspiration, fashion, music and all the things in between.
Mish Barber Way (left), and Jennifer Herrema (right)
MBW: What are your every day pieces of jewelry and where did you find them? JH: I’ve got lots. My Pamela Love custom silver, gold, diamond wedding ring (from my husband), my sterling concho cuff (grandmother), five zuni inlay rings (gifts, tours, grandmother), diamond stud earrings (from my husband), leather choker cord (from my dads old moccasins).
JH: What is your oldest piece of jewelry that you still wear and where did it come from? MBW: I have my Polish grandfather's pinky ring that I wear on a chain around my neck. My Polish grandmother's old silver and green stoned Moroccan-style ring that actually opens up on the top. Totally for drugs at one point. I have a gold and jade ring my grandmother used to wear that was made from her father's cufflink and her mother's wedding stone. My engagement ring was the ring my mother-in-law was given by my husband's father. He passed away a long time ago. It's beautiful and I was honored to be trusted with it. I also have a bunch of silver that rarely leaves my wrist: my Pamela Love snake cuff, a woven silver cuff my aunt got in Africa and a bunch of random bangles from yard sales. Together they are the perfect combination.
MBW: What's your style motto? JH: If you can’t stretch out or get comfortable, don’t wear it. JH: What do you think about “rocker chic”? Dental assistants, fashion editors, soccer mom’s, wearing “designer” leather biker jackets, leather pants, torn denim, “old” heavy metal tee’s? MBW: It's a weird thing when your natural mode of dress becomes a costume anyone can buy to up their cool points, and I think you know better than most people. But that is what fashion does. That is why people can make entire collections based on the "homeless bums" on Venice Beach or reinvent new versions of thrift store dresses that iconic rock stars wore because they bought that stuff before they were famous and now that's their "look" so it has cultural capital. It's like that Marc Jacobs quote which goes something like, "A cool bag on a dumb girl is a dumb bag, and a dumb bag on a cool girl is a cool bag." You can not just pop on a designer top and suddenly become a trend setter. You become trendy, but not iconic.
MBW: What are three albums you could not live without? JH: I have no idea but today would not have been today without listening to Eddie Hazel Games, Dames, and Guitar Thangs, Betty Davis Betty Davis and Scorpions In Trance.
JH: What three records are in constant rotation at your house this month and why? MBW: I just got these compilations from Trailer Park Records called "Twisted Tales From The Vinyl Wastelands". It's all these old country songs about everything from strippers, to prison, to drugs to love. Songs that no one cared about at the time. The story telling is what I like. They are so good. It's just my taste. I love old country so much. Everything about it. Country and blues. I've also been listening to Stepson's Stepson and the new Black Mountain record, IV. Oh, and my friend David Vassalotti's new solo record, Broken Rope.
MBW: Where do you go to get away from everyone and everything? JH: Where I live by the beach is relatively secluded so I don’t have to go anywhere to get away I have to go away to get near the “everything”.
JH: I’ve been interviewed and spoken about the detrimental aspects of exclusion for twenty years and I’ve only recently found encouragement having read a few people that share similar logic and beliefs (you being one of them) in their own language but it has taken 20 years to finally hear the echoing of my sentiments resonate. So, why now? Despite how far we have come regarding our thinking on sex and race equality, why do people tend to want to take things backwards? MBW: I think that this is natural for humans. We repeat historical mistakes over and over. I get really fed up with the chase. I've never been a fan of the chase. I like the prize and enjoying it. Striving for more is important, but not when it's regurgitated. We are the recycled generation. I am, at least. Things come too easy now. But even saying that sounds dated and stupid. My whole thing, and the piece I wrote which you are referencing here called, "Going Up The Country: Why I Want To Abandon My Career", is that love is the ultimate goal and the rest is just distraction. Family, friends and love are the only important accomplishments in life. That's the shit that matter when you are 85.
MBW: Which clothing item will you never let go of? JH: My customized Levis from when I was 14-years-old. I can still wear them. Sometimes.
JH: What would the world be like if there was no such thing as a “stylist” and everybody had to dress themselves? MBW: I think people who have style should be stylists for photo shoots or film, but to have a stylist to help you get dressed everyday means you are someone else's doll. Whenever I get styled for fashion shoots, I aways end up wincing, making tweaks to the original idea. I really do not mind being a human doll for one photo or video, but never every day. But if no one was allowed to duplicate or recycle looks, I think we would end up seeing a lot of people grasping at straws to be noticed. People wearing tin foil pants and Kleenex boxes as shoes. There are only so many types of fabric in the world. There would be a lot of unnecessary fighting.
MBW: What's the first thing you do when you get up in the morning? JH: Make coffee and smoke cigarette.
JH: Are all creative people artists? MBW: I don't really know. I think so many unconventionally artistic jobs are creative, like cosmetic surgeons or chefs because they produce something unique and tangible. So, maybe anyone creative is an artist? Jennifer, this is an existential shit! I want to get into this over tequila next time I see you.