Music

Carly Russ Spreads Her Wings as Cici Valentine

Fresh off her departure from being 1/2 of folk duo Girlyboi, the polymath is embarking on her own quest of creative freedom. First stop, the release of her new single "Feeling Small."
Reading time 4 minutes

Photography by Drew Escriva

Styling by Mecca Cox

Ending a longstanding relationship is never easy, just ask Carly Russ. Russ—current alias Cici Valentine. Valentine was previously a member of folk duo  Girlyboi, however, the group decided to go their separate ways after unsolvable creative differences.  The severance marked an opportunity for Russ to find a new creative outlet., one that includes a new look, a new sound, a new band, and a new outlook. In an exclusive interview with L'Officiel USA, we asked Cici our most burning questions, her blazing hot debut single under Cici Valentine "Feeling Small," and how she discovers perspectives that inspire her. 

How have your vocals evolved over the years?

When I first started doing music, I was so meek and quiet. I was too afraid to show who I really was. It’s a vulnerable place to be in! I gotta say all the things I’ve gone through up until this point have really given me my voice and given me the confidence to show who I really am in my music. 

 

Can you tell us about the inspiration being your vintage collection, Vintage Valentine?

I’m so inspired by Vegas circa 1970/1980/1990’s. It’s so kitschy and dirty but romantic and sexy to me. I own this book that always sits flipped open on my living room table called “The Book on Vegas” that completely encapsulates Vintage Valentine. I wanted to create a vintage collection that allows people to wear puffy sleeves and sequins during the day while not apologizing for it. It’s everything I love in clothing from that time period. 

 

What are some of the themes in your new single?

It speaks to women (or men) who have felt conflicted or broken in an unhealthy relationship. One minute you feel small and worthless and the next you’re trying to shake these thoughts that creep in your mind that you know isn’t who you are to the core. This was all written from experience. That was the only way I was able to communicate it. 

 

Why did you name the single "Feeling Small?"

Because that feeling lingers constantly when your soul is stripped of you. I’ve felt small for a very long time, just up until recently when I gained back my true self. I just wanted people to see the authentic side of me that no one really knows, and most importantly be able to relate and not feel alone in their pain. 

 

Do you tend to discover new perspectives through work process? Or are they more familiar based on what you've experienced? 

A little bit of both honestly. I’ve learned so much about myself during this new process of music that I wouldn’t have learned being in a duo like I was prior to this. I’ve been able to create my own voice without anyone else’s input and that is important to me. But my life experiences have shaped my music into what it currently is now. So it really goes hand in hand. 

 

What's the best part of your job? 

Truly, I’ve been able to work with the most talented people I’ve come across in my life. Musicians, stylists, makeup artists, and I’ve been able to create a genuine friendship with them. That is really so special to me and the best part of my job. Being able to create with like-minded people. 

DRESS SAINT LAURENT, TIGHTS FALKE, BOOTS RAG AND BONE

ALL CLOTHING LOUIS VUITTON

DRESS VIVIENNE WESTWOOD, BOOTS ALEXANDRE VAUTHIER

DRESS VIVIENNE WESTWOOD, BOOTS ALEXANDRE VAUTHIER

BLAZER VERA WANG, NECKLACE FENTON JEWELRY

Credits

Styling: Mecca Cox (The.Only Agency)

Photo Assistant: Ryley Paskal

Hair: Robert Steinken (Celestine Agency)

Makeup: Matisse Andrews

Assistant: Wendy Martinez

Production: Taj Alwan

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