May 21, 2012 11:40AM

Oyster #99: Nite Jewel

"A lot of people don't have faith in women to be successful."

I first heard Nite Jewel (aka Ramona Gonzalez) back in April 2008. It was a lo-fi synth slow-jam called 'Lover', and it sounded just like driving through late-night LA — probably because Gonzalez lives there herself, in the quiet sanctuary that is Topanga Canyon. She recently released her second album, One Second of Love, and it has that same subtle quality that's seen 'Lover' survive many an iTunes cull.

Ariane Halls: Can you hear me OK?
Ramona Gonzalez: Yeah, I can hear you.

I'm sitting in a car stopped on a highway, so if a big truck goes past, you'll hear it. Just warning you.
You're sitting in a car on a highway?

I'm parked in a clearway. It's fairly legal.
Oh, OK!

But a truck might go past.
[Laughs]

Anyway, I wanted to ask you about women in music, because sometimes I struggle to find female musicians that I want to write about. Why do you think there are so many more men than there are women in music?
Well, in general women were never… Before, say, the seventies — even when my mom was growing up, in the sixties and the fifties — you could do [music] as a hobby, but mainly, at least for my family, in the lower middle class, women were either technicians — typists or whatnot — or they were mothers. So, I guess it's taken future generations a while to recover from that perspective, at least in America. I still think there's a sense in which being a caretaker/mother … is something that we're taught we're naturally inclined to do.

Are there women in music — going as far back as the forties and fifties — that you're inspired by now?
Growing up I used to sing a lot of Billie Holiday songs, and I found her inspiring and also an enigma — she was this really gorgeous, seemingly pretty lonely character; super emotional and brave. And, as a woman, you don't… I mean, you think of women back then — doing what she did, it just seems unbelievable that she was able to do that. So, I definitely admired her when I was singing jazz when I was younger — junior high, high school. I look up to a lot of singers. Recently I was into Sade and her whole vibe. Watching interviews with her, she's just so unbelievably demure and classy. I'm not really like that, but I definitely find her to be pretty beautiful; her whole aura is really inspiring.

What about through the sixties and seventies?
I'm watching a lot of Stevie Nicks interviews, like the VH1 Classic Albums documentary on Rumours. She's pretty interesting 'cause to me she's, like, ultra feminine, but if you see her interviews she's kind of a badass. She doesn't really suck up to the industry at all — she's really her own person. She's just got a very unique delivery. It's rough around the edges, but she's just so incredibly beautiful at the same time.

I find that women tend to make music that is very melancholic. Aside from hip hop — people like Nicki Minaj and Azealia Banks — it's always so serious.
That's interesting that you say that. God, I hadn't really thought about that. I mean, for me a lot of women make music that's really very uplifting, in a way. The girls that I'm listening to — it's dark, but it's still kind of life-affirming. I think about living in an American culture, and rappers back in the day who were expressing their situation living in America and being maligned — a lot of those albums happen to be very dark, 'cause they were living in a certain situation that wasn't extremely positive. And I think that with many women… well, we're maligned too, in many ways. A lot of people don't have faith in women to be successful, so I think that's maybe expressed in music.

I feel like there's a massive gap between people like Katy Perry and Taylor Swift and people like you, Nina Kraviz and Julia Holter. It's like there's no in-between — but maybe I'm just not listening to the right people.
Well, Taylor Swift isn't human, so you can't really use her as an example. She's not even… I mean, I was just reading an article about her, and it doesn't really seem like she has… Like, she might even be a psychopath. She has no empathy; she's just very much a robot. But I think there are a lot of pop musicians and singers who are wavering in between dark and light in a pretty successful way.

Photography: Cara Stricker

Ariane Halls

Latest


London Fashion Week Review: Mary Katrantzou

Queen Amidala on a country vacay.


London Fashion Week Backstage: Mary Katrantzou

Behind-the-scenes at one of LFW's most anticipated shows.


Oyster Illustration: Amanda Palmer

She drew it on a bed sheet with a sharpie!


London Fashion Week Interview: Jonathan Saunders

Zac Bayly attempts to troll Serious Fashion Journalists backstage at LFW.


London Fashion Week Review: Topshop Unique, Acne & Paul Smith

It Girls, white-on-white, and immaculate blazers.


Watch: Frank Ocean 'Pyramids' Directed By Nabil

Plus, Frank performs on the SNL season premiere!


London Fashion Week Backstage: House of Holland

Jewels, sunglasses and pretty girls.


London Fashion Week Interview: Dion Lee

"The type of woman that I was attracted to this season was a little more… Demure."


London Fashion Week Interview: House of Holland

We ask Henry to liken his collection to frozen yogurt toppings, and he tells us he's a mummy's boy.


London Fashion Week Interview: Twiggy

We speak to the world's first supermodel backstage at Sass & Bide's LFW show.


Copycat: Shop David Bowie

Shop his enduring style — featuring Balmain, Surface to Air, Acne and more.


London Fashion Week Backstage: Sass & Bide

Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, sequins, floral corsages, feathers and pops of bright orange.


London Fashion Week Interview: Willow

Three words to sum up the collection? "Whisp. Tailor. Dream."


Street Style Before Street Style: David Bowie

"I always had a repulsive need to be something more than human" — David Bowie.


Top 10 Girls of NYFW: GIF Edition

Our runway favourites, now with added animation — featuring Julia Nobis, Lindsey Wixson, Liberty Ross and more.


Oyster Playlist: Kenji Takimi's Top 5 Party Songs

See the Japanese DJ play at Adult Disco in Sydney and at the Bamboo Musik party in Melbourne!


New York Fashion Week Backstage: Proenza Schouler

World Wide Web, high fashion style.


Bruna Kazinoti Shoots Sheriff & Cherry Eyewear in Croatia

An eyewear by Mark Vassallo and Mauro Massarotto.


Win Tickets to See The Rubens Play Live

Their debut album is out Friday 14 September!


Model of the Moment: Ruby Jean Wilson

We profile the 18-year-old Australian model who opened and closed the Marc Jacobs at NYFW this week.


New York Fashion Week Backstage: Rodarte

Karlie, Lindsey and Aline go all Game of Thrones on us.


Topshop Collaborates with Facebook for LFW Runway Extravaganza

Enjoy front row fashion via the internet!


Terry Richardson's Mum Passes Away

And Lady Gaga shaves head in her honour.


Watch: Tavi on Jimmy Fallon

And just be the smartest and funniest teenage girl in all the land.


George Gorrow leaves Ksubi

The end of an era.


Likes: Balmain Metallic Leather Jacket

Shop like you're a gold digger.


New Zealand Fashion Week Street Style

Shot exclusively for Oyster by Auckland style bloggers, Foureyes.


New York Fashion Week Review: Karen Walker

Cool girls, cadet caps and Space Age suburbia.


Hedi Slimane's First Campaign for Saint Laurent Is Very Hedi Slimane

Featuring former Girls frontman Christopher Owens in the buff.


New York Fashion Week Backstage: Helmut Lang, Alexander Wang & Ellery

Go behind-the-scenes at the best shows so far.


Weekend Review — Rihanna's New Ink, Alexa Chung's Hangover Cure, Grimes Likes Australian Rap, Terry Shoots Dree

Plus Kanye and Jay-Z's new track, Britney's new hair and Opening Ceremony's new video.


Social Snaps: Josh Goot Store Launch

The label opens their flagship Sydney store.