When I ask Kelly Zutrau how she feels before getting on stage, she bluntly replies, “I feel like I’m going to die.” The frontwoman of Brooklyn-based band Wet—a dreamy and emotionally laden group that made the top ten list of Rolling Stone’s “New Artists Defining the Sound of Now”—is raw, gorgeous, and truly authentic. Her vulnerability onstage has culminated in a massive cult following, and that same unabashed honesty is present when we speak. As a performer and model, her definition of beauty is layered and multifaceted. Ahead of the band’s national tour, I sat down with Zutrau to talk the importance of self-care and the creative process.
Kelly wears top by Georgia Alice.
What’s the thought process before going on stage?
Kelly Zutrau: “It’s crazy, but every time I think if I mess up, and it’s decided that I’m not good enough, or not worthy of this thing, then it’s going to end all of the sudden. And the reality is, things don’t really work that way. But I have this intense fear of everyone deciding they don’t like me, and I have to talk myself out of that fear before every show. I have to remind myself that it’s just the way I am feeling and it’s not real. The thing that I’ve learned is that if people feel like you are being yourself up there, even if you are messing up, if they are experiencing you in your true self, then they will be happy with the experience. It’s not about a perfect performance but rather a real interaction, communicating authentically.”
Do you have an onstage persona different from your personal nature?
KZ: “Because I feel like at the core of the music what is interesting for fans is that it’s coming from a real honest place, going onstage is less of slipping into some sort of an alter ego. Instead, I try to be the most myself that I can be—more than I even am in my regular life. I really try to get into the feeling of where I was when I wrote the songs and be as vulnerable as I was when I was going through it; I try to [channel] what it felt like to be as heartbroken and desperate that I was when I wrote ‘Don’t Wanna Be Your Girl.’
Emotionally, do you feel drained?
KZ: “It’s actually the most amazing and therapeutic thing to live it out on stage. I feel so lucky since most people don’t get to experience this. You get to say to your feelings and everyone supports you. It’s just so validating. And it’s really powerful. I’ve had young women come up to me afterward and tell me that helped them get out of abusive relationships. In those moments, I really want to stay present, because that’s really the point of it all. It’s not about any of the industry stuff or the bullshit, but more of what does it do for their life, and what does it do for yours?”
The emotional aspect is just one part of it – you’re also the face of the band. Tell me about your beauty routine.
KZ: “I definitely buy a lot of shit—I’ll see a new cream and be like ‘I have to have that, it’s going to transform my face.’ I’m a sucker for oils and serums and creams. I generally try to buy stuff that is more natural and doesn’t have as many chemicals in it. I like a lot of the Weleda oils— – I use almond oil on my face and under my eyes. I also use hyaluronic acid, and that has really transformed my skin. I have combination skin—oily and dry—but I love hyaluronic acid because it’s light and moisturizing but doesn’t make me break out. I’m using Cosmetica right now. And then I use La Roche Posay moisturizer, which is in every CVS. It doesn’t make me break out, and once I find something that doesn’t make me break out, I stick to it. For when I do break out, I’ll use a retinol cream —ust from my dermatologist— to help the skin cells turn over quicker.
“I mostly just try to over moisturize, and try to have my skin glistening and basically looking wet. I’m in love with Vered Face Oil; it smells amazing and helps my skin glow.”
Let’s talk makeup.
KZ: “I am totally late to this, but I just got into Glossier. I generally feel like makeup makes me look a little crazy, but I am now obsessed with Boy Brow in blond, which is just so subtle and helps my face look more put together. I’ve always loved a strong eyebrow look, I just never found a way to do it in a more understated way until discovering this.
“I always on the train wondering how everyone looks like they are in a magazine, and I’m just starting to realize that everyone is wearing highlighter! I had no idea until I went into Glossier, so now I’ve been using Haloscope. The other thing I’m obsessed with that I use everyday is this RMS lip tint; it lasts forever and is a little more opaque than a tint, but still looks very natural.”
What is your advice to younger woman pursuing their passions or maybe feeling wobbly?
KZ: “Find someone who is older in the field who doesn’t have an agenda and can genuinely give you good advice. Find a person who can be in your corner. I’ve had people like that who have been just lifesavers in this process. I think it doesn’t hurt if that person is a woman and can help you understand that specific experience.
“I would also say sticking with something, even if you aren’t having success with it. If you are persistent and have some talent, I think you will find success…at some point. I’ve seen this happen so much in New York. Just stick around.
See Wet on their full US tour starting February 24th