Trouble Child
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An Interview with Veronica Crichton-Hill

Koryne Martinez met with podcast and blog wizard Veronica Crichton-Hill to talk about photography, music, and suspenseful reads.

Koryne Martinez: What drew you to photography, and how has your creative style transformed or developed over time?

Veronica Crichton-Hill: I think I was eleven when I got my first disposable camera. I just took pictures of everything. When I was fourteen, I took a photography class at the Boys’ and Girls’ Club and ended up winning a contest at the end, and some photo critics talked to me and said I had natural talent. I was blown away and decided to start learning more about photography. Eight years, six cameras, and a lot of Youtube videos and Photoshop tutorials later, here I am in school for it. I think photography has so many different applications, like documentary, abstract, commercial—there’s just so much to learn and so much work to look at. I think that’s amazing.

My creative style has changed a lot just over the years I’ve been in college. I wanted to be a photographer for National Geographic for a while, and then I was interested in street photography, but in my Introduction to Photography class I saw this photo by Richard Avedon, and I was like, “Wow, fashion can be art.” I had thought it was all commercial, so that sparked my interest in fashion editorials, and it’s what inspires my work now.

KM: As a songwriter and lead vocalist for the band Proper, what does the process of writing lyrics look like for you? How has this shaped your relationship with music?

VCH: This is always a bit of a hard question to answer. All of my lyrics have ties to real things that have happened. Some of them are very loose ties and some are not. Sometimes I can hear a riff in another artist’s song and get inspired (I wrote “Have You Been Happy” while listening to “Gauze” by Gleemer over and over), but other times songs just come out line-by-line. The notes app on my phone is filled with chunks of verses. Whenever I think of a line, I write it down and forget about it. Eventually I’ll come back and put them together.

Proper’s new EP is very personal to me. A couple of the songs are centered around a trauma that happened to my family shortly before I moved to the Twin Cities. Another couple are about losing two of my best friends, so performing these songs has both helped me process these experiences and claim them. It’s empowering to yell these lyrics at people that have no idea what I’m talking about, yet they still feel it. Music is definitely an amazing tool for me to be comfortable with being vulnerable, which is something I still have trouble with in my non-music life.

KM: You have currently been reading a variety of page-turner suspense books. Why does this particular genre interest you? If you could recommend one, what would it be and why?

VCH: Dude, they’re so fun! What’s gonna happen next? Who did it? Is the main character even a good person at the end? So many twists and turns! I just read The Road by Cormac McCarthy, and oh boy. There’s not a twist or a big revelation at the end, but the whole journey is just incredible and heartbreaking. Usually I go right into my next book after I finish one, but I’m taking a couple days to absorb this one before I move on. It really affected me, and the writing is beautiful and poetic and tragic.

KM: We shared many vulnerable past experiences that have shaped us and seem to influence the work we both create. What is your take on the popular debate regarding the impact of trauma on "good" art?

VCH: I think art can be a way to help you work through your own emotions. I made a book about the trauma my family experienced for a final project once, and it was grueling, but it helped me work through things I didn’t process before. Art is the best way for me to communicate and visualize my own feelings. Maybe some people use art as escapism because of trauma. I do a bit with music sometimes. “Good” art is a whole other debate that I love to talk about, but I’ll save everyone and abstain from writing an essay about it right now.

KM: I know about your dream job, but I want everyone else to as well! Tell us what your life would look like if all of your dreams came true.

VCH: Picture this: I walk in the employee entrance of One World Trade Center. I take the elevator up to the twenty-fifth floor. Someone takes my coat and hands me The Book, says something about Versace jackets in my office. I walk in; there are two bottles of sparkling water on my desk. I sit down. I make the final look through The Book before I have to leave for Paris fashion week. I’m the editor in chief of Vogue, and I get free Versace jackets.

KM: In your opinion, why is White Claw superior to Truly?

VCH: One reason: they use real fruit juice. Another: Whiteclaw has way less carbonation. Last reason: mango.