TOOPOOR Laments the Digital Age

TOOPOOR Laments the Digital Age

Story by Brendan Wetmore / Photography by Brian Ziff

Talking with TOOPOOR is perhaps one of the most unexpectedly exciting conversations you could have. The social media star-turned-dark pop artist is quirky in an unashamed sense of the word; she offers up new details to each question presented, shifting a narrative completely at times. It's almost as if she takes pride in telling stories that change public perception of her and her artistry, taking the "TOOPOOR" brand to a level that's indiscernible.

Her style is the only indication of any consistent theming that might carry over into a conversation. Black corsets, lacy tops, and avant-garde silhouettes echo a post-gothic, post-millennial mentality and vision. The aesthetic secures her a space firmly between a mall Spencer's and a dimly lit independent shop in your local town that sells a mysterious array of dark trinkets and incense. None of her photos come across as trite or disingenuous, though, making her music all the more intriguing.

TOOPOOR's first single, "Crazy Girls," was a ripping pop-rock anthem, dipped generously in a dizzying distortion filter and lined perfectly with a trap drum kit. Her newest single, "Lamented," fills a different space in her slowly expanding discography. Fans have been asking for a new single for months, and it's finally here — but it might not be what they would expect to follow a wild track like "Crazy Girls."

"Lamented" might actually be the musical antithesis to "Crazy Girls." The new track is a slowed down pop whisper-ballad. Guitar strings are plucked at gently, and only near the song's end does this gentleness halt. A trap drum kit, similar to the one used in "Crazy Girls," comes in softly for a final chorus before exiting just as swiftly. The stark differences between the tracks might be because of the overall message behind "Lamented," which is one of fear of losing a loved one and fear of moving to slow to love.

The video for the single, directed by Gilbert Trejo and featuring TOOPOOR's boyfriend, Killstation, is a gaunt peak into a ghostly world of graveyard dealings and body draggings. She plays a mourning woman in one scene and a corpse in the next, with shots of her bloodied face lip syncing the hopeless lyrics straight into the camera.

PAPER sat down with TOOPOOR to talk about her evolution as a musician, the new single and the process behind its production, and changing approach to social media and cancel culture.

Top & Tights: Ny Laurent, Jacket: La Roxx

How are you?

Good, how are you?

Doing well. I'm really excited about the new single. I had such a great time writing up your "In Conversation" with Maggie Lindemann. I thought it came out really good.

Yeah, I loved that. I think that brought Maggie and I closer together, so thank you.

Oh really? No problem. I listened to "Lamented," and I loved it.

Thank you, thank you.

What was the concept behind the track? Can you talk to me about what you were going through to write something like "Lamented"?

A new relationship, honestly. When my boyfriend and I started dating, this was the first track we ever worked on together, and we stayed in the studio for like 48-72 hours and we finished this track in one day. I mean obviously we did some producing later on, but for the most part it was finished in 72 hours and we didn't sleep.

Top & Pants: MM6, Gloves: Kerry Parker, Sunglasses: Bonnie Clyde, Necklaces: Dalmata

Do you like doing it all in one shot, or are you someone who likes to sit with songs and see what comes of them?

I need to sit on it, he was just all-in-one-shot, and then go back to it later. I like to take my time.

I can imagine being in the studio that long that at a certain point you're like, "You know what? It's good!"

Yeah, I was. I took naps, I won't lie.

Top: The Channel One, Hat: Bijou Van Ness, Necklaces: Dalmata

I would too, I don't blame you. The track is definitely more downtempo than "Crazy Girls." It has that trap drum pattern, though, like in "Crazy Girls." How was going about this song different than your first single?

I feel like "Crazy Girls" was a great introductory song for me personally, but I feel like it's not my best work. I feel like it was the best song to introduce me as a female artist to the world because I had never put anything out before. I feel like "Lamented" is just executed and sounds like everything I wanted it to sound like. It was more of the vibe that I was trying to go for originally.

It has that ghost-y, haunting sound. "Crazy Girls" is really in-your-face.

I think it's more of a lullaby, or more melodic.

It's a melancholy lullaby. Was the mood in the studio any different? You didn't make "Crazy Girls" all in one day, did you?

No, that one was like eight months. I would record a line or two and then go back to it. The writing process for that took a little time because I could never figure it out. I had originally recorded the hook, so I could not figure out the verses. I was like, "Said he likes crazy girls/ But he hates when I act crazy," what a fucking thing to say! I couldn't really say anything else, I thought that was enough. I thought that was already too crazy. With this song, my boyfriend and I wrote it together. It was more so him tapping into my brain. He thinks that we had telekinesis. I don't even think he was my boyfriend at the time, we were just in the studio and he said that he put his head to my head and he saw the lyrics. I don't know what the fuck happened. Something weird happened with this song.

It's haunting. It's almost spiritual. Do you feel connected to that world at all?

Yes, definitely. Maybe that's what happened. Maybe there was some weird spiritual thing, some unspoken stuff that could obviously prompt that to happen. There's some unspoken stuff, but I don't want to get into it.

Top & Pants: MM6, Socks: Molly Goddard, Shoes: Paciotti, Gloves: Kerry Parker, Sunglasses: Bonnie Clyde, Necklaces: Dalmata

That's totally fine. Some of the best art comes from those moments you can't explain, it comes from feeling. "Lamented" is going to be your second single, and it's definitely a departure from your DJing. What made you want to move from the DJing into the music-making?

I've always loved DJing, but at a certain point I wasn't producing and I wasn't making my own tracks. I was constantly playing other artists' music. I didn't get into producing, so that wasn't really an option for me. I couldn't really see myself producing, but I could see myself making music. So, if I wanted my own track, I would have to sing my own track. I just wanted to give something more tangible and more branded and more me. I could put out mixes all day, but it's none of my music, you know?

Did you always have a passion for singing?

It definitely came about. It was an unknown thing that was happening.

You're in LA, do you find yourself surrounded by a lot of people who kind of try out music but pass on it because they're like, "It's not for me?"

I feel like it's the opposite. I feel like I'm surrounded by a lot of people who have been trying to do music for a really long time, but they haven't built their brand so the music isn't necessarily going anywhere for them. I feel like I've spent a really long time building this "TOOPOOR" brand. I'm on the opposite side of the spectrum, because now I have this platform and now I'm making music. It gets tricky.

Top & Pants: The Channel One, Hat: Bijou Van Ness, Necklaces: Dalmata

It's definitely a great way to go about it because you have that built-in audience. If they ride with you, they're going to ride with the music, or they're going to call you out if you don't like it, but they like it.

It was the same thing with DJing. I had a following and became a DJ. I remember a lot of DJs would get mad at me because I was headlining events and getting paid the most money. A lot of people were like, "I'm a real DJ. I DJ festivals, who the fuck is this girl coming in being a DJ?" I started to be at every party in LA, and people were getting mad and complaining to the host. Then, it would get back to me and I'd feel bad, but I'd be like, "Well, I built my brand."

You can't help that.

I can't help it. I didn't know that was what was going on. I was like, "Wow, cool. Headlining. Awesome."

The brand kind of built naturally for you, right?

I've never bought followers or likes, I don't believe in that. I don't believe in paid promotions, I've never been paid to post anything. Everything is very organic.

Top & Pants: MM6, Socks: Molly Goddard, Shoes: Paciotti, Gloves: Kerry Parker, Sunglasses: Bonnie Clyde, Necklaces: Dalmata

Right before this interview, my editor, Justin Moran, told me he had just been looking back at an old interview he had done with you in 2016 and you had 55,000 followers. You've really built that since then.

It's crazy because back then I thought 55,000 was a lot.

We were saying that too!

I thought I was peaking, but it's just growing. It's like a game. When you hit 50, you're like, "I want 55." Then you're like, "I want 60." You get 60, then you're like, "I want 100." My friends would ask, "Would you be satisfied at 100?" I was like, "Yeah." Then I got to 100 and I was like, "I need a million."

Dress: The Channel One

It's all about more in the social age.

Weird. It's not that I necessarily want it, but it's a goal to work for, to build. It's like my child, I grow it. I plant my seeds, I water it. I take good care of her.

The last time we talked, you expressed to me that the comments can feel suffocating. Has that changed at all for you since we last talked?

No, it's actually gotten worse.

Really? I'm sorry.

It's okay, it goes in waves. I can handle it for a month, then all of a sudden I feel like everyone is saying something negative. Maybe it's one specific person that was once my friend, or maybe it's a thousand 12b year olds that are saying nasty things. I don't know. Something eventually gets to me. It comes with the territory. I just think it's fucked up that a lot of people are like, "Oh, get used to it. This is what comes with it, the more you grow the more hate you're going to have." But like, that's not something anybody should get used to. There just shouldn't be hate at all, you know what I mean? I can understand an opinion if you don't like something, but I think sending actual hate is not necessary. That's something I don't think anyone should get used to.

Top & Tights: Ny Laurent, Jacket: La Roxx

When I see comments like that, it's always someone on a Finsta or a private profile. They're kind of doing all that because they're bored and they don't even want to get called out for it.

Sometimes if I respond or I do call them out, they instantly respond and they're like, "I'm so sorry, I didn't mean it. I love you." They get scared. So I'm like, "Why'd you say it in the first place." Some people would say, "Oh my god, I just did it to get your attention and it worked." Then, I feel bad because I just gave this person attention like I'm praising them or reacting to hate when there's so much positivity I can be reacting to. It's almost like you get used to love and the hate is what gets you.

The internet is real, but it's fake. We balance that line. In real life, are the people you surround yourself with also very prevalent on the internet?

I'm a little more public than they are, so they tone me back. Honestly, I've lived in LA for like, nine years. I feel like I've met everyone I needed to meet and it's never worked out. I don't believe in finding friendship here. I think it's really difficult with followers and knowing who to trust. It's weird, how things work now, because everyone is so quick to cancel someone. The "cancel" thing is so corny. If you would get in a fight with your friend, she could just turn around and post about it on social media and try to cancel you. You have to be very careful of what you tell people, what they know. They're scary. It's like a new world of blackmail.

It totally is, all it takes is one video. I saw James Charles' video and last time I saw he had lost three million followers.

That's the craziest thing. He's broken a record, good for him. I think he broke a record during his cancellation, that's crazy. I think he can come back from it. I obviously indulged in it, I watched the videos and stuff. I know nothing about that world, I'm not into the beauty community. I don't follow those people, but it's on my timeline. I see it everywhere. I looked into it, and it's just like, "What are you guys fighting about? What is going on?" How did it become bigger than the Kardashians? That's crazy.

Vest: Susana Bettencourt, Dress: The Channel One

Photography: Brian Ziff
Makeup: Caitlin Krenz (Opus Beauty)
Hair: Darren Hau (Opus Beauty)
Stylist: Britton Litow
Studio: Apex Photo Studios