Emerging from a long studio session Porcelain Black dodges the sun by shifting between shadows. The radiant and dour seem to follow the singer wherever she goes, and she loves it. "Everything that I do is a mix of light and dark," she says. "The contrast represents my music, my hair, my personality."
Fusing hard-hitting rock roots with the sticky, pulsating beats of 2101 label head and producer RedOne (Usher, U2, Jennifer Lopez, Enrique Iglesias, Pitbull, Lady Gaga), Black has created a sound she likens to the would-be offspring of Marilyn Manson and Britney Spears. "It's industrial, dark, danceable pop," she says. "Bad ass and positive."
While visiting RedOne's studio in November 2009 Black's vibe and epic vocals made an instant impact. "I wanted to sign her on the spot," RedOne recalls. "She reminded me of Joan Jett. She's got it all: the attitude, the talent, the look. She can scream and do things with her voice that nobody can do. She is uncompromising in pursuing her own creative vision. She's taking everything that's old and making it futuristic and bringing rock and roll back in her own way."
Now signed to 2101 Records via a joint venture with Universal Republic Records, Black's first single "This Is What Rock N Roll Looks Like" Feat. Lil Wayne fuses roaring guitars with thunderous dance-pop, a vibe maintained throughout most of her daring, not-yet-titled debut. "Rock and roll is about attitude," says the heavily tattooed singer, who was once asked by Courtney Love to sing backup when the alt rocker found her on MySpace under Porcelain and the Tramps. "We're the kids that belong to the night, but just because you're a bad ass doesn't mean you're a bad person. Rock and roll is about embracing people."
Recorded in Madrid, Sweden, N.Y. and L.A., Black's album engages sinners on the striking "Living In Sin." "People who point fingers and judge are hypocrites," she explains. "So you just have to blow a kiss and wink with your middle finger." On "How Do You Love Someone" she unmasks a layer of vulnerability when addressing her adolescence. "Momma never taught me how to love, Daddy never taught me how to feel," she sings. But, she contests, "My dad was really loving. This is about my stepdad."
Following her parent's separation when she was 6, Black's mother remarried into a cookie cutter lifestyle in Rochester, Mich. "My mom really wanted me to fit into that," she recalls. "It made me feel corrupt." Growing up on the gritty streets of Detroit's 8 Mile, "Makes you have tough skin," she adds. "I'm proud of that."
Coming from humble beginnings - "we were really poor" - Black recalls hopping from the Magic Stick to catch rock shows to City Club for goth acts while donning Chuck Taylor's, "with duck tape around the torn-to-bits toe because they were the only shoes that I had."
Determined to broaden her horizons, Black found inspiration in the success of fellow Michigan natives Madonna and Bob Segar. But, declares the singer, who has Detroit's moniker 'ROCK CITY' inked across her knuckles, "I'm continuing the Iggy & The Stooges and Motor City 5 Detroit rock tradition."
At 15 Black discovered her father had cancer and was kicked out of two high schools in three months. "I never fit in," she says. "My dad was dying of cancer and people were treating me like shit. I was a loner." At age 16 her father died, but not before leaving a lasting musical mark on his daughter. "My first concert was ACDC with my dad," she remembers. "We'd listen to Led Zeppelin, David Bowie, and Jimi Hendrix."
A hairstylist who occasionally worked for Vogue, Black's father took his daughter backstage at fashion shows and along to photo shoots. "He owned his own salon and while his clients' hair would set he'd turn on a Marshal amp and put on his Kurt Cobain wig and jam out to Nirvana on his guitar. It was rad."
Also inspired by dancing, Black took jazz, tap, hip-hop, and ballet. "I was training to go on Broadway or come out to L.A. and be a backup dancer," says the singer, who used to buy vintage clothes and re-sell them to make ends meet. "But I was wasting my time. I knew I wanted to do music."
Invited by pal Lil Wayne to join the "I Am Music II" tour alongside Nicki Minaj, Travis Barker and Rick Ross, Black rocks in killer platform heels and continues to revel in road tripping with artists she loves.
A fierce female with one hell of a wail, Black has no apologies. "Embrace the fact that you're different," she avows. "I want people to feel empowered. When somebody pisses me off, that's when I'm really inspired. Rock and roll is about attitude, what you say and how you say it."