Backstage

  • Candice Birns styling pop sensation Ellie Goulding
  • Birns styled the band HAIM for 'V Magazine'
  • Behind the scenes with Alana Haim
  • Birns and DJ Calvin Harris
  • Birns styled Sasha Grey for the cover of 'Rolling Stone Espana'
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Candice Birns

With a list of clients that includes Foster the People, Bastille, Cults, Ellie Goulding, Calvin Harris, Rita Ora, Neon Trees and Haim, Candice Birns is the go-to hairstylist for many of the music industry’s leading talents. Candice gave us an inside scoop to her latest shoot with musical sister act Haim for V Magazine, plus shared some insights about working with musicians.

What’s it like to work with the Haim sisters? How did you style them for this shoot?


I really love their look and who they are. Their hair is really easy and beautiful. We enhanced Este’s natural wave with braids, dried it out and brushed it out for a bigger look. For Danielle, we just made her look cool by finger-teasing her hair to create piecey-ness, body and good flyaway. With Alana, her hair can tend to get too pretty so we roughed it up a bit and dulled it out. I wanted them to be sophisticated and a bit rock ‘n’roll but still themselves.

What Oribe products do they like?


Après Beach and Dry Texturizing Spray are perfect for their hair. Après Beach is great on Este and Alana because it’s not too wet, gives shine and creates a great beachy look. Dry gives them the body, volume and ethereal look we’re going for. Danielle, the lead singer and guitarist, and Este, the bassist, can’t go without Gel Sérum, which gives loads of body and lift for blowouts.

Who are some other musicians you work with?


Calvin Harris is an artist who’s look I changed entirely by giving him a super sexy crop. I also work with Foster the People, Cults—Maddy the vocalist has got beautiful hair—and Guards, another band with long, beautiful hair. I’ve worked a lot recently with the band Bastille. Dan, the lead vocalist, and I always have a blast together. I’ve done all of their US videos and their recent appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live. I love working with those boys. They have very stylized haircuts. Dan is obsessed with Superfine Strong. I also work with actresses Sasha Grey and Kelli Garner. I couldn’t ask for a better rotation of people I’ve been blessed to work with.

What’s fun or different about working with musicians?


It’s really funny because Haim didn’t even have a hairdresser when they first came to me. Each of them has a different haircut that I created for them based on a system of layering. As far as working with male musicians, they let you do more. I get to change their looks a lot. I’ve taken Mark of Foster the People from a Euro-mullet look to a super sexy Marlon Brando ‘50s style. What’s fun about those boys is that they have ideas for what they want to look like for each record. Musicians are very inspired, so you become more inspired when you work with them. You want to work 150 times harder; you want to be on their level and match their creativity. When you’re a stylist, you get to pamper and take care of people. There’s a bit of a mom vibe. With musicians, you’re really working with them on their aesthetic and their confidence.

How did you get started working with musicians?


I was born and raised in Los Angeles. When you’re a kid in LA, you end up working in the entertainment industry somehow. I would get haircuts from famous hairdressers when I was a child, and I knew I wanted to be a hairdresser too.

I’ve lived in Silver Lake for the past seven years. When I first moved there, it was still a bit of a starving artist community. I would go out and meet local bands that started to explode. You start going to shows and word of mouth happens. It happened naturally for me, but I also busted my butt. I went to the shows and did the legwork to meet the musicians. And it’s loads of fun.

What musicians do you think have great hair?


I will always go back to the classics like Rod Stewart and Mick Jagger, for sure. I love Mick when he started to get really weird in the late ‘60s/early ‘70s. David Bowie was always my favorite. You’ve got to love Joan Jett, and Rickie Lee Jones has the most beautiful head of hair. Then, of course, there’s Stevie Nicks and her iconic fringe and long wavy hair. Depeche Mode is one of my all-time favorite bands. Dave Gahan, the lead singer, has never gone through a bad phase in my opinion. They are all gorgeous.

Do you like to listen to music when you’re on set? What do you listen to?


I always listen to music. The type of music depends on whom I’m working with. I definitely listen to Bastille and the Haim ladies. But sometimes I’m like, “Let’s do Nina Simone or Tina Turner.”
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