— March 18, 2013 —
Inspirational figures get personal and share a passion with us in AnOther Thing I Wanted to Tell You
Christopher Owens, shot by Hedi Slimane for Saint Laurent Courtesy of Saint Laurent“It is something that I got into when I was very young, probably like four-years-old or something. Because I travelled around my whole life, it was the one thing I continued to collect. They are cheap and you can find them anywhere. Especially when they used to be very common. Now, I have a very big collection. I still collect stamps when I am on tour and when people write to me. It's fun. It has almost become more interesting because I don't think stamps will be around for much longer. I think that makes my stamps a little bit more special. I really enjoy collecting them. It is something that I have had my whole life.
All the kids growing up that were born and raised in this group were very aware that there was another world outside. We were very guarded from it and we didn't know exactly what it was like so we kind of had to imagine, or we heard little things, or we saw little things when we were are out and about. It is very difficult to have an understanding of what the world outside is like but at the same time we were all very aware of it. We knew we were being raised in a different way. It took leaving to really understand how things were actually different.
"I still collect stamps when I am on tour and when people write to me – it's fun"
It was the whole first sixteen years of my life, so it is not exactly something that you can blur out. It was my whole life for a long time. I have a lot of memories from it. We grew up communally and lived in houses with hundreds of people. That was an experience. Of course I remember all of it, but it is difficult to sum up your entire life. It is kind of funny for me because I have talked about it quite a bit and I have kind of explained what it was like for me, but it is like asking anybody what the first half of their life was like.
We were basically home schooled, but it was pretty much just a religious education. There weren’t any normal academic studies. Everything was related to religious beliefs, the beliefs of the group and how we were supposed to be growing up. They were very focused on how they were going to raise us, without giving us much of a normal education. I didn't learn very much about world history or math, or anything like that. It was just a pretty strong education in religious studies. Yeah we saw a lot of different cultures and different things, but at the same time not very much of it. Just sort of small glimpses of how different people live. I saw a lot of the world and it was very interesting, but I always realised that I had to go back home to my commune. That was really all we knew.”
There is a certain allure that surrounds former Girls frontman, Christopher Owens. Much of it is down to his childhood, where he was raised into the religious community the Children of God and grew up travelling across Asia and Western Europe, living communally with little access to the outside world. “I left when I turned sixteen,” he explains, “I was pretty determined to just go.” So Owens left Slovenia for Texas, eventually settling in San Francisco, the place where he now calls home.
It is with Owens' debut solo album Lysandre, that one really starts to see him making maps of his own extraordinary life. This cartography is extremely personal and complies an album that he describes as a “coming-of-age story”, drawing on his experiences of love and his first tour with his former band Girls. Here, Owens reveals his prized stamp collection, childhood memories and growing up in the Children of God.
Christopher Owens' debut solo album Lysandre is out now. Watch the video for his single Here We Go Again here.
Text by Isabella Burley