Otherworldly Torraine Futurum first caught our eye with a series of black and white self portraits and digital collage work. She then remained in our radar after she turned to modelling for photographers like Ethan James Green and Petra Collins, and also for major brands like Proenza Schouler and Adidas, and eventually gracing the cover of Candy Magazine. Nowadays, she’s much more focused on another endeavour of hers: music. And all of these disciplines that she has dabbled in have one thing in common, which is essential to her existence: storytelling. This is how she stays real and in control, in an uncertain foreign world.
For starters, could you tell us a bit about yourself? Like, what is the mission you’ve set out to accomplish that originally drove you to land on planet Earth?
Oh, no grand plan. Like everyone else, I kind of ended up here by accident. We grasp at straws until we find our purpose or give up on it and focus on survival. Two paths people take. I guess I want to touch people’s lives in a meaningful way. I want to live on in textbooks.
What does Torraine Futurum’s inner world look like?
Well, these days, I’d say it looks like the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). A lot like an Avengers film. I’ve really gotten into the MCU and Marvel comic characters. I guess I connect to them because I’ve always thought of myself as something other than human. Just one standard deviation away from homo sapiens sapiens. These days, I’m really into cyborgs and I kind of wish I was one. I want some robot parts. There’s lots of metallics and fire on my mind, transhumanism, and flowers. Still, always flowers. I’d love to be like Ultron or The Vision.
What drew you initially to the fashion industry? Had you always dreamed of becoming a model?
I’ve always been into fashion, my entire life. It was the first way that I gained the agency with which to express myself. I have a lot of fun with clothing and styling. How you look like is the first impression you make on people. You can build a whole profile about who you think someone is based on his/her clothes, hair, and makeup (or lack thereof). I creatively direct the messages I send about who I am through my clothes. I know a lot of people don’t take it as seriously, but I dress in a very specific way because I’m on top of my messaging.
I dress grand, even for mundane tasks, because I want my whole life to be a work of art. I was drawn to the world of high fashion because it was grand. Great fashion doesn’t have to be practical or functional; it has to be beautiful. I never thought I could be a model, though. I’m confident in a lot of things but my face hasn’t historically been one of them. It’s taken a long time for me to begin to feel attractive. And I still have wild insecurities about my appearance.
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How did you and badass photographer Ethan James Green – who’s worked for Helmut Lang, Alexander McQueen, Proenza Schouler, etc.– meet? Did you instantly click?
A couple of years ago, I sent him an email and asked if he wanted to shoot me because I loved his work. He’s so fucking talented and I wanted to be seen through his lens. He has a vision that’s undeniable. He said yes to shooting and we just kept working together and the projects just kept getting bigger and bigger. We love each other. He’s been like a fashion big brother to me. I don’t see him as much these days because he’s always shooting and/or flying somewhere and I’ve really been hiding away for the past year working on music. We just worked together again recently though for something that won’t come out for a while.
What about meeting editor, creative director and publisher Luis Venegas and gracing the cover of his so-called transversal mag, Candy Magazine? What was that like?
Luis is great! He’s been lovely to me and is supportive of me. He shows me love on social media and on art that I create – not just when I post a photo of my face. I hope I get to work with him again. Candy was a cool experience and my first magazine cover! I feel blessed that it got to be so major. Hari Nef was the guest editor of that issue and she made sure I got a cover. Matt Holmes, Lia Clay and Sean Bennett were the dream team that turned me into what I’m most comfortable being: a fantasy. That was my first time being shot by photographer Lia Clay, and we’ve been working together a lot since. I always trust her to make me look amazing.
Regarding your music career, when and why did you decide to move to this discipline?
I just think that my whole life I’ve been looking for something that fulfils my need to express my thoughts and emotions as loudly and clearly as possible. I want to rage and scream and cry and boast and fall apart, come back together, and play out fantasies, and do whatever else in an unfiltered way. Music is like therapy for me. It’s an escape as well. I’m able to make vulnerable confessions and also able to paint my utopian future all through music.
Of all of the artistic endeavours I’ve toyed around with, music feels the most authentic. Right now, I’m in the late stages of working on this album. I’ve actually been working on three songs at the same time. One song is about depression and suicidal thoughts, another is written from the perspective of myself but in the year 2028, and there’s another song where I write from the perspective of God.
"I want to rage and scream and cry and boast and fall apart, come back together, and play out fantasies, and do whatever else in an unfiltered way. Music is like therapy for me. It’s an escape as well.”
I’ve read that you don’t like the fact that, as a model, you become “a malleable, pretty image”, which is why you enjoy creating your own music and doing your own art direction. But which of these art forms would you say that is the most fulfilling for you and why? And what are the issues that you want to tackle and drive you to create art?
Well, I don’t think I said I don’t like being a malleable, pretty image. I think it’s fun to play different characters, especially since I’m drawn to a bunch of different aesthetics. I like modelling when I trust the team, vision, and intention of the project. I enjoy both modelling and music. They provide different releases. If I wasn’t making music, then I wouldn’t enjoy modelling as much. I do need the sense of agency that comes from making your own art.
Modelling is fun because I love to be interpreted and immortalised by great artists, but I don’t have any creative input, really. The team effort that goes into getting a shoot together is beautiful and astounding. It feels good to be part of a team of people bringing their specified talents to something that couldn’t have been done individually. And I enjoy music because I get to engage the control-freak side of me. The model is usually the last thing to be considered when conceptualising a shoot. They do as told. That’s a fun experience when you like what the creative team is aiming for, but can be awful if you hate their creative direction.
So you also like music and are actually more focused on that because you can express yourself more freely?
In my music and the visuals attached to the music, I am the creative director. I have a razor-sharp vision. I’m in control of all concepts: from the musical direction to the arrangements, to the lyrical content and photo shoots, stage shows, etc. I’m a big picture thinker. I’m a creative director. And it all starts with an emotion. Once I know how I want the audience to feel, I can translate that feeling into sounds and visuals. I love cohesion and the ability to tell a story through a consistent 360-degree message.
As far as what that message is? I really just make music in an attempt to feel real. I desperately need to feel like I’m living fully and that I’m not under the thumb of societal structures. I live loudly and proudly in my music and in my visuals. Making art makes me feel immortal. It’s mine and no one can take it from me.
I’d also like to ask you if you are tired of being labelled a trans/LGBTQ/queer model, artist and musician? Do you feel that it’s your responsibility to become a role model for queer youth?
Here’s the thing. I’m not a human. I am an experience. I am a suggestion. I’m… a concept. In the end, when all that’s left is my name, the only impact I want to leave is my work, my vision, and my complete disdain for the concept of settling.
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How would you describe your musical genre/style? You’ve claimed your lyrics to be messy, for example, as you’d rather say some things in songs instead of in person to someone, but why? Is it confrontation that you’re afraid of?
Sonically, the album is a mix of electronic, EDM, pop, rock, and funk. I promise it all makes sense when you hear everything. My lyrics are less messy these days (laughs). When I was writing before, I think words spilt out like diary entries and laid bare on the hardwood floor. These days, I take a more artful approach to express my thoughts. I’m definitely a lot better at songwriting now. I have a better awareness of how sounds roll off the tongue. It’s not just about getting the right amount of syllables to fill a melody. It’s also about how beautifully those words pour out.
For this album, when writing, I always keep in mind that I want to be able to slur all of every word if I want to. I don’t want words that jut out and require clean enunciation. When I put that stipulation on my writing, it made for a more fluid and polished sound. And I’m not afraid of confrontation at all. I’m just self-aware and analytical. I’ll put feelings into songs that are irrational or not fair to the people they involve. Sometimes, I’ll write lyrics – dark lyrics – about situations where it’s no longer productive to talk about with the person(s) involved.
Could you be more specific?
For example, I’ve written a lot of songs about my ex and our breakup. We’ve remained friends the entire time. Since we had already broken up, what’s the point of me expressing my jealousy and anger about them moving on so quickly? Should I have kept updating them periodically during the whole period where I cried, and raged, and mourned? I don’t think so. How would that have been productive? What would I get out of saying, “Hey, I know you’re in a new monogamous relationship, but I’m still sad and angry about our breakup.”  How would that have helped either of us? I put that in the music; the good and the bad, it is all there.
By the way, I just went to your Soundcloud page and swear that so many of your older songs aren’t there anymore. Only three singles – Key Party, Drama and Forrest Hills – are left. Why’s that? Is this your way of starting over with a clean slate because your older songs no longer represent your current vision? Also, what is it about these three songs that made you keep them online?
Yeah, I took down the older stuff. Some people may know that I put out a project called Colonial in January 2017. But it really was my test project.  I had to break some teeth to understand how to make music. And I learnt while working on it, so by April, I was already cringing at it. I hated it and started working on this one called Miles From Heaven. I’ve learned so much more about how to fill a song and how to produce vocals. I just really felt like I needed to wipe the slate clean to do it properly this time, so I took everything down from Colonial – which is also why I have no songs on Spotify or Apple Music right now. 
I really want to wait until I have the final album versions of everything before putting them on those more official platforms. The few songs I have out on Bandcamp and Soundcloud are subject to change but they will be on the official release. Oh! And I’m gonna put out two more songs, Barbie Beach House and Unclaimed Perfection, Babygirl very soon.
“I really just make music in an attempt to feel real. I desperately need to feel like I’m living fully and that I’m not under the thumb of societal structures. Making art makes me feel immortal.”
What are the themes of the next album going to be? What ideas have been running your mind lately?
The album is a lot about love, mental/emotional health, and stability. Always.
When can we expect the album to come out?
Well, I expected it to come out many times in the past eight months (laughs). But I’m very, very close to finish! Everything is written, I’m just recording and producing vocals. I want to get it out at some point in August of this year for sure. It’s hard out here doing stuff on your own with no training! I just want the mixes to sound excellent – or as close as someone like me can get them.
What does the future hold for you?
Much more music. Much more love. Much more money.
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