The Shoot: Kristin Kontrol Is Obsessed With Vintage, Hates Push-Up Bras
Formerly known as Dee Dee of the Dum Dum Girls, solo artist Kristin Welchez has a new gig and killer look to match.
When Kristin Welchez, a.k.a. Dee Dee of the Dum Dum Girls, announced in January her departure from the band to focus on her solo project under the persona Kristin Kontrol, it marked not only a fresh sound from the artist, but a reimagined look, too. "On paper, Dum Dum Girls was a solo project," says Welchez, who founded the New York-based rock act in 2008, known for it’s lo-fi guitar vibes and hits like "Coming Down" and "There Is a Light That Never Goes Out."
"I wrote everything and, aside from the second album, recorded with just a producer. It was a band in aesthetic and performance. It started to feel too archetypal though, like I couldn't get out or across what I wanted."
But Welchez holds nothing back on Kristin Kontrol’s inaugural album, X-Communicate, out May 27 (Sub Pop Records), a powerful, genre-defying debut that fuses together everything from synth-pop to reggae, layered with Welchez’s melodic vocals for instant dance floor-worthy hits. "I anticipate meeting a higher glam quota," says the Northern California native of her newfound onstage style as Kristin Kontrol — a departure from the Dum Dum Girl’s sixties-tinged makeup and signature all-black ensembles. Here, Welchez opens up to Pret-a-Reporter on everything from her new moniker to her favorite vintage haunts.
LADY IN LACE: Welchez in a vintage beach cover-up from the '60s. (Photo: Sami Drasin for Pret-a-Reporter)
Pret-a-Reporter: Where did the name Kristin Kontrol come from?
Kristin Welchez: I'd been sitting on it for over ten years — it's my email address. Originally it was a jab for me having taken up with a new group of friends who had a club night called Skull Kontrol, named after the band. Flimsy insult, but excellent nickname.
How does Kristin Kontrol's aesthetic depart from that of Dee Dee?
A bit more grown up. Sleek hair, minimal makeup (or maximum, depending), androgynous glam.
SO SHADY: Welchez in Marcot sunglasses, a mix of vintage rings, and a black Vitaly ring. Her lipstick by Bite Beauty. (Photo: Sami Drasin for Pret-a-Reporter)
What are some of the pieces you'll be working into Kristin Kontrol's onstage looks?
I'm looking to get some coordinates. I love this bold black-and-white stripped combo from Again Collection. Alice & Olivia has a few prints I'm really into as well.
When did your love affair with vintage begin?
I used to wear my parents' clothes when I was a little kid. I'd fashion dresses out of my dad's leisure suit-era button-downs. It's been downhill since then.
Where do you source most of your pieces?
Thrift stores far and wide while touring, but when I'm home I appreciate the smaller shops that nail their collections like Bushwick’s Worship and Malin Landaeus in Williamsburg. Metropolis in the East Village is my go-to for the perfect band tee. Fox & Fawn in Brooklyn gets a lot of impulsive money via Instagram from me, too.
SHINE ON: Welchez in a vintage lace blouse, vintage glittery cardigan and H&M pants. (Photo: Sami Drasin for Pret-a-Reporter)
Tell us about plans for your own vintage boutique.
My best friend, Jenny, has been wanting to open her own store for years. We first met because she hired me at a resale shop in California about 12 years ago. She's a genius at that sort of thing — sourcing, curating, pricing. I've got a handle on the digital stuff. We're finishing up the online side of things, then we will do a few pop-ups, all while looking for a brick-and-mortar. The store is called Sentient.
What's the one piece in your closet you can't get rid of?
I acquired this massive green army parka from my dad that he picked up while I was growing up on one of these motorcycle runs that were set up by his organization. It'd be a list of cities and you'd drive through each one, snap a photo at some landmark, and submit it via mail at completion. Anyhow this jacket has a ridiculous Tweety Bird screen-printed on the back, with the word YAMAHA above it. Some sort of weird knock-off. It's way too big for me to wear but he was going to throw it away. I screamed like it was sacrilege.
POUND IT: Welchez's vintage rings. (Photo: Sami Drasin for Pret-a-Reporter)
What's the one trend you'll never get behind?
If we were to look in your closet, what would we see?
It's all black, save a few pieces. It's an indiscernible cave. I'm working on bringing in some color. I'm obsessed with monochromatic looks — just trying to get away from exclusively black. Stylist Stephanie Singer just put me in all silver to deejay The Moth Ball in New York and it was incredible. I felt space age.
LAID BACK: Welchez in Marcot sunglasses, H&M top and H&M pants. (Photo: Sami Drasin for Pret-a-Reporter)
Kristin Welchez was photographed by Sami Drasin in Venice, Calif.