L'Express Styles, March 2012. Photos by Mariano Vivanco. Scans by Alice. Translation by Alice.
Sitting on a chair at in a room of the Claridge Hotel in London, Liv Tyler is exactly how we imagine her to be: soft, fresh and romantic as Princess Arwen in the Lord of the Ring. But as we speak, the Bertolucci's Stealing Beauty becomes deeper, with a punk side... and a charisma like her mother, singer and model Bebe Buell, and her father Steven Tyler, leader of rock band Aerosmith. Thanks to the beauty house she models for since 2003, the actress goes into music. A big dream.
For the launch of Very Irresistible Givenchy new perfum, Electric Rose, Liv Tyler has recorded a INXS hit and taped a video clip choreographed by Blanca Li. The result is amazing.
You made appearances in the music world, by playing in Crazy video clip, Aerosmith hit or by singing with Lemonheads. For the first time you are alone with the microphone. What give you the strength to step into it? I have dreamed about it since I'm 4... I'm singing all the time, but when it comes to music Im a real "control freak": I need to control everything. How can I do otherwise when I come from such a family of great artists? In my mind you have to be a full time musician or you cheat. I used to thought that I didn't have to right to record because I don't know how to play any instruments - even if I take piano and guitar lesson since my childhood... And my life took me somewhere else as I started modeling at 13. At 16, I started being an actress and then I got married with a musician and I got a child, Milo whom I wanted to give all my time. My wish to sing never left me but I found too much excuses not to do it until people from Givenchy, who know my passion, did it for me. Their proposition was too good: sing Need You Tonight, a song that I love, with David Sitek, David Bowie and Yeah Yeah Yeah's producer. I was terrified. But I would have been a coward to run away from this.
Tell us about your first musical souvenirs. As a child, I sang with my mum Iggy Pop and Elvis Costello's hits. Mum was performing in punk bands and I loved to look at her while I was backstage. I also remember nights in our house in Maine, when I was sitting on the floor, listening to my dad, Todd Rungdren writing music. At this time, I thought he was my real father... At 9, I found out I was Steven Tyler's daughter. Another musician! My mum didn't told me this to protect me: at this time he was too much sex, drugs and rock'n'roll. Music was the string which relied the entire family. It help us to express our feelings: kindness, things never said, rage, joy... At 12 I met my grand father, Vittorio Tallarico, an extraordinary pianist, and I found out my italian origins. Steven Tyler's real name is Stephen Tallarico, and my family comes from a small village in Calabria where I went (Liv Tyler shows us an old picture of her grand-parents in Italy). The Tallarico, all musicians, moved to New York in the 30's. They went in the Bronx where my father was borned. My grand-father was teaching the piano in a public school in New York and he played music until he died two months ago... I've spent years to sing and improvise with him.
Why did you choose to cover Need You Tonight by INXS? At home I have at least 7000 disks... I have spent months to listen to hundreds of songs with my partner at Givenchy, and I found "the" song: I'm Your Man by Leonard Cohen. After that someone from Givenchy suggested INXS song, from Sony Music. This choice has disturbed me, like the challenge: how to find my way to sing it! And that's where David Sitek was crucial to me.
How was the recording that you like so much? It was the most exciting experience of my life! David and I didn't wanted to record in a cold studio so I went to his home in Los Angeles for a week. He lives in a house on Mulholland Drive with a cat and a dog. We just improvised, created fun versions in dub version, reggae... I was dancing, drinking wispy, he was cooking, we had fun... Our sessions lasted sometimes until four in the morning. The atmosphere became so rock that it influenced my interpretation, my voice which became more aggressive and sassy... Really Rock!
Your voice is really settled and powerful! Different from the one we know... I found this out... It's a powerful experience. I realized that light and soft voice was hiding another one more deep, nervous, almost masculin. That the one I used. I was able to do it because of my faith in Dave. When I sing with my mum or my dad it disappears! Singing was the beginning of a therapy for me... I still do this work on my own, playing with a guitar that my mum gave me. It's obvious: I want to write my songs and record an album.
In the video clip you worked with Blanca Li and you are unbridled: have you already danced before? Yes, but it's not regular. Collaborate with Blanca was as wonderful as painful! She asked me to learn very difficult choreographies to me, to became someone else... I'm an actress, but I'm not a great performer like Beyoncé or Madonna! I was prepared to found myself in the middle of fifty dancers and to be the star... Blanca Li was wonderful. And very determinate: I have rehearsed once for sixteen hours!
What is your bound to your body, your feminity? I am hyperactive, but through the years, I succeed to be indulgent with myself. I am found of food, I love to cook, to have lunch for hours with my family. Gaining weight doesn't scare me. But I work out a lot because I like to feel pretty. I can wear the same jeans for an entire week, but when I go out, I like to transform myself. Riccardo Tisci is my favorite designer. I love his sophisticated style, his gothic touch, the quality of his clothes... I have always love to get make-up: my grand-mother taught my this art while I was 11.
You are the muse of Very Irresistible, Givenchy's fragrance since 2003... How would you describe the new version, Electric Rose? It's a delicate fragrance, fresh and feminine. It has the softness of roses perfume, but also a stronger note, a twist, something more rock. I never change my perfume, I like that it's party of me. And I found myself in Very Irresistible, because it evolves while keeping it's true essence.
Where do you stand on your cinema career? After my divorce, I went through an empty period. My passion went away. Now I found again the desire to shoot and I dream of a movie with Quentin Tarantino or Tim Burton! I'm about to play in The Side Effect, by Ti West, a sci-fi movie. I'm co-writing a book, Modern Manners, with my grand-mother Dorothea Johnson, who has created the Protocol School of Washington. It's a school where diplomates take manners lessons. This book deals with the importance of good manners and I talk about my childhood, my life, experiences that describe me and those which helped me to be who I am. It's a four hands medley with a rock'n'roll grand-mother!