Chip Chrome, The Neighbourhood’s Knight in Shining Makeup | Interview

Rutherford’s mom wasn’t too surprised by Chip Chrome, either. Mohawk and tattoos aside, Rutherford recalls getting sent home from school in fourth grade for painting his nails “and other stupid shit that you should not get sent home from school for.” Although he was a self-described “pretty good” kid, Rutherford thrived on being in control of who he wanted to be. His attitude growing up could be described as, “Let me drive the fucking car. Let me be behind the wheel of who I am,” he says. “And my mom was always super open to [it], and let me dress however I want to.”

In fact, the first time he painted himself with Mehron’s CreamBlend Stick, Rutherford was reminded of his teenage years. As he coated his skin in the shiny hue, he was transported back to living at his mom’s and sensing the freedom she once offered him all over again. Rutherford felt like he was taking up drawing again, one of his favorite childhood hobbies. “I’ve always moved fast and rushed to the next thing,” Rutherford muses. “When I was younger, my mom used to try to get me to draw to help me calm the fuck down for a second, just chill, and concentrate on something other than getting up and going.”

Rutherford soon realized becoming Chip Chrome helped him feel more prepared to take the stage, and the metamorphosis is now meditative practice for him — one he wishes to hold onto, even after he stops being Chip. As Rutherford silver-izes himself and blends eye shadow onto his lids (specifically with his ring finger), “the world kind of stops for a second,” and he feels completely immersed in his art and creativity at the most physical level, he says. 

These days, makeup artist Sydney Szramowski aids Rutherford in his transformation, sweeping on rainbow gradients of pigments on his lids or asymmetrically color-blocked hues that contrast the polished hue that covers his body. But the magic of the process still moves him. 

The final product may be a man in makeup, but Rutherford doesn’t want to fit the typical expectations and praises of such. Rather, he’s more of an alien in makeup than anything else. “I’m not trying to be sexy or beautiful or anything like that with it,” Rutherford declares. “It’s hard to even call it beauty. I know makeup fits in the category of beauty, but I’m not really trying to do something beautiful. I’m just trying to do something creative.”

The singer is hardly defensive or pretentious with these claims, though. Instead, they encapsulate his passion for art and self-expression. Makeup, Rutherford believes, should be as broadly and abstractly approached without gender roles attached. He hopes his use of makeup can exemplify the non-permanent, boundary-less ways to explore our identities — no matter who we are.

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