Karen Elson Reflects on Fashion, Music and Gaining Confidence

Give Karen Elson some butter, toast and a green juice, and she’s a happy camper – we catch up with her over breakfast in Paris to talk about her new album
Reading time 3 minutes

Karen Elson looks fresh as a daisy. Garbed in a flowery dress designed by her friend Susie Bick (creator of the label The Vampire’s Wife, and spouse of Nick Cave), the 38-year-old model and musician from Manchester greets us in the reception of Le Pigalle in Paris. She’s arrived from London where she gave a concert the day before to promote her sophomore album, Double Roses (1965 Records).

The audience had been mesmerised. How couldn’t they be? The spirit of the album is decidedly psych-folk and embraces the era of Laurel Canyon, at the height of Los Angeles’ cult of Californian music in the ’70s. Elson and her voice are equally elegant, seductive and memorable. Produced by Jonathan Wilson, the new darling of the indie American scene, Double Roses recalls the best of Joni Mitchell and Dolly Parton. More importantly, it proves that seven years after her debut album The Ghost Who Walks (produced by ex-husband Jack White), Elson has a firm place among today’s most inspired singer-songwriters.

Are you a morning person?

Absolutely. Even before the arrival of my two children, who never fail to wake me up in the morning, I never managed to sleep in. Except on my last birthday when, after a very festive night, I stayed in bed till 9 in the morning. Exceptional, huh?

What’s your ideal breakfast?

Black tea with milk and toast. Every day. I’m a real Englishwoman! And a very healthy juice, preferably green, to compensate for the very generous dose of butter I have with my sandwiches.

And what do you do immediately after breakfast?

I take my children to school, and then I go home at 10 when I sometimes have a second breakfast!

What are some of your favourite places for breakfast?

Urban Cowboy, a very cosy boutique hotel in Nashville. On weekends, we go for a legendary brunch by Matthew Mosshart (brother of The Kills singer, Alison Mosshart, a close friend). I also like the Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles. In the morning, I wake up head down to the garden terrace for devilled eggs… it’s divine! In New York, I go to Cafe Gitane on Mott Street. They serve the strongest coffee I’ve ever drunk. They also have Viennese pastries that are to die for.

You seem more confident on Double Roses than on your first album. A sign of maturity?

Without a doubt. I’m 38. I know what I want and what I’m worth. At the time of The Ghost Who Walks, I was still very shy about my presence on the music scene, even though I’d been writing songs and playing the guitar for a long time before that. It took me some time to figure out how to get out of the comfort zone of modelling.

What’s the difference between music and fashion?

Fashion is my daily work. It’s the thing that’s helped me make a living and allowed me to travel, to meet Jack, to be able to raise my children in good conditions. Music? It’s a secret I’m beginning to share more and more with others.


Photography: Fe Pinheiro

Karen Elson – Call Your Name

This article first appeared in the June/July 2017 issue of L'Officiel Singapore (out now on Magzter and newsstands). Click here to subscribe.

related posts

Recommended posts for you