I first met Sandra Song when she was interviewing our friends at Discwoman as an editor at Paper Magazine. Her fierce style and focus on activism in the entertainment world had me signing up for her fangirl club. I love her Pop Feminist video series for Teen Vogue where she dissects cultural appropriation, how the music industry profits off people of color and the power of teen girls. (She is also a big reason our Fashion, Culture and Justice NYFW Panel was such a huge success!)
For our new #ChromatBABE feature, we took Sandra and our AW17 Buoyancy Collection to Fort Tilden in Queens, NYC with photographer Lissy Elle Laricchia.
Read on to learn more about how Sandra is living her whole truth and amplifying the voices of POC creatives through her work.
Sandra Song in the Sigourney Suit
All photos by Lissy Elle Laricchia
Interview by Becca McCharen-Tran
Are there any women in your life right now that give you strength? What about them inspires you?
Ahhh!! There are so many amazing women whose energy and drive I try and channel on the reg, but I think I have to give love to my close girlfriends first. So big shouts to my best friend Ramona who always reminds me to be kind, my girl Frankie who helps me stay brave, my passionate Monica, and my fellow #ChromatBABE Dom for always boosting me up, even in my lowest moments. And, of course, my mom for being the original bad bitch.
Sandra Song in the Saldana Suit and Buoyancy Crop Jacket
Who were some of your role models when you were growing up?
My mom and Courtney Love. Talk about a contrast…but who doesn’t love ~multitudes~?
You’re the Digital Entertainment Director at Teen Vogue, and before that you were the Associate Editor at Paper Magazine. What do you feel is the responsibility of fashion, music and culture publications in responding to political events?
Culture publications are so important right now because of their reach. imho, celebrity and pop culture are great gateways for discussion about broader socio-political ideas. So whether you’re CNN or Teen Vogue (which, for some reason, still surprises most people -_-), I think you have a responsibility to engage with what’s going on in the world-at-large, especially since we’re at this pivotal moment in history. After all, art — whether it be music, fashion, or literature — is a pretty tried and true means of communication/ expression for humankind, so tbh, it’d be stupidly irresponsible for us to not use our established platforms for good.
You penned a personal piece for ‘Not Your Fault’ a Teen Vogue campaign that aims to educate people about the epidemic of sexual assault. What motivated you to tell your story?
You know, I spent so long repressing that memory that I think it just became something I needed to just fucking acknowledge and face head-on. And it was maybe one of the scariest, yet most cathartic things I’ve ever done. I remember I sobbed for an hour and a half after writing it, but I wasn’t sure if it was out of relief or anger. Probably a bit of both. I think the idea that this was part of a bigger series had a lot to do with that — the idea that I finally could feel like I wasn’t alone in feeling this way.
Sandra in the Lowtide Suit
What has been your favorite or most surprising interview and why?
Grace Jones on both counts. Hands down. It’s not often you get to talk to a bonafide goddess. Let alone about sex toys.
Sandra in the Coastal Suit and Buoyancy Parka
How has being an Asian-American daughter of immigrants influenced your writing or the themes you try to tackle? Has it influenced the way you work?
Hell yeah. I think that immigrant mindset of working hard is definitely at the root of my success. Even after like 40 years of working, my parents are still grinding as hard as day 1, despite having quote-unquote made it. That said, my dad literally came to America with nothing and that’s always been something that inspired me in terms of leveraging my privilege and platform. I feel like the best way I can honor what my parents have given me is by shedding light on the things that they couldn’t really talk about a few decades ago.
Sandra Song in the Sigourney Suit
What was your experience shooting Chromat SWIM with photographer Lissy Laricchia?
It was so sick. It’s funny, I actually hate the beach and can’t really swim, but the moodboards and ideas Lissy came up with really sold me. She’s so incredibly talented and brought such a distinct, surrealist feel to a place that I always just associated with that gross feeling of sand in your pants.
Sandra in the Tidal Suit
What article of clothing or way of presenting makes you feel powerful?
My eyeliner is definitely the source of my power.
What's your favorite Chromat piece and why?
Definitely the broad-shouldered inflatable jacket. I’m an oversized outerwear lover; there’s just something about garnering attention by taking up a lot of space that really appeals to me.
Sandra in the Volta Inflatable Coat and Garter Cage Bustier
If you weren't in cultural criticism, what other profession could you see yourself in?
Probably science fiction writing…so I could create a world where things are a little less shit than they are irl.
OK, last question ... Since I’ve seen you ask all your interviewees this. :) What advice would you give yourself as a teen, if you were 15 again?
Stop worrying — you are loved. Also maybe rethink that septum piercing.
Follow Sandra on IG
Photos by Lissy Elle Laricchia
Makeup by Chantel Miller for MAC