“I wear my heart on my sleeve when I write a song,” says Daphne Guinness, designer, model, muse and musician. “You try to make it as oblique and universal as possible, but, you know, it’s quite difficult when it’s emotion.” Guinness has long been lauded as one of fashion’s foremost visual creatives; she deftly uses her wardrobe, full of powerful pieces, as a means of self-expression.
Except that, in her eyes, fashion is secondary to aural means. “You’re a mute, with feelings,” she says of her role in the ‘visual’ world. “It’s a quiet world in a funny way. You’re static... You tend to exist in a certain static part of someone’s imagination, rather than being an emotional human being.” Rather, where Guinness finds her voice, she explains, is through music.
Talking To Yourself is the new single from Guinness’ second album, Daphne & The Golden Chord. Musically inspired by the sounds of the early 1960s, and in particular Vince Taylor, it’s a plainspoken song, accusatory and angry. “I was having a bit of a moment, as you have probably seen from the lyrics,” she says (“you say you’re lonely, you can go and fuck yourself,” she sings). “It’s very much a direct mainline to my feelings. People go through things like that all the time. On the one hand it’s universal, on the other hand, it’s very personal,” she explains.
The music video was produced by Tony Visconti and showcases the directorial talents of Guinness’ longtime friend, Luca Pizzaroni. Watching it feels like a view through a monochrome kaleidoscope with the straight-talking face of Guinness at its core. “I didn’t give him any direction because I just don’t have to,” she says of working with Pizzaroni. “He connects with the song. I like working like that.”
Take the mesmerising moment when her body seems to disappear altogether. “When we were doing the contrast, you see my body sort of disintegrate,” she says. “That’s pretty fucking cool… It’s pixellating; it looks like I’m dissolving, so I said ‘let’s keep that’. It’s almost like a glitch in the system.”
Guinness has always been happy to break the rules when it comes to music – years ago, she was offered a place at the Guildhall School of Music, but turned it down. In hindsight, she believes formal coaching would have restrained her approach. “Not having had a thorough training means that I’m not that worried when I break rules,” she says. “I think it’s more freeing.”
Nonetheless, her entry into this universe occurred through what she calls a “bizarre set of circumstances.” Guinness was living in Ireland and had arranged to do a recording with a friend, but the friend never showed. Two days later, the sound engineer was still waiting – so an embarrassed Guinness took to the mic herself. “One foot in front of the other, and one song after the next,” she explains, “and then I got in touch with Tony Visconti and the rest came from there.”
Her first album, Optimist in Black, was an exploration of the dark, deep, sad areas of herself, an exhaustive process which required her to “bleed herself” into the music. Daphne & The Golden Chord, however, was created with laughter. Co-written by Malcolm Doherty and recorded with a band, it includes “singable” songs, real rock ‘n’ roll records, those Guinness wishes to perform on repeat. “You’re still getting as much pleasure singing it as you did when you wrote it,” she says. “When you still feel passionately that it is great, that’s really good.” The silent muse has found her voice – and it sings.
Daphne & The Golden Chord will be available in April 2018.