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Rock This Look: The Opera Singer Turned Punk Star Who “Never Leaves Home Without Falsies”

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Rainy Terrell was always the rock star of the opera. Growing up in southern California, the singer started taking classical voice lessons when she was just six years old. Before long, she was studying Italian, French, German and Russian to compete as an operatic performer. That experience eventually landed Terrell at a school for musical theatre in New York City, but not before long, she was on a jet plane headed back home, inspired to take her creative options into her own hands.

“There came a point in my life, when I was 18, when I wanted to show everyone who I was. I didn’t want to play a role anymore,” says Terrell. She boasts a long credit sheet of characters she’s played—Dorothy in a production of “The Wizard of Oz,” Amaryllis in “Music Man,” and Marta in “The Sound of Music”—before she said “so long, farewell” to the theater. “I love performing, but I had so much I had to expel and get out of myself,” says Terrell. Which is what she does as the enigmatic lead singer of electro-pop-rock act Neo Geo, that recently released their second album, Digital DNA, which has been touted by MTV and Alternative Press.

In this new “role,” Terrell still enjoys some theatrics; namely, changing up her stage look when the band hits the road. “My style has definitely evolved along with the band,” she admits. “I love the high fashion look but also being very raw or grungy with tight pants and boots,” a look she says was inspired by her personal music idols like Garbage’s Shirley Manson and that other SoCal pop rocker Gwen Stefani. More than just hailing from in the same area, Terrell felt a kinship with the No Doubt singer. “Growing up in the ’90s, she was the ultimate symbol of female empowerment, more than ‘just a girl.’”

It’s that message Terrell also wants to impart to her fans as well, especially the younger ones who’ve seen Neo Geo at one of three Warped Tour appearances, or, more recently, on a tour of 30 high schools in the band’s home state. Terrell got to meet some of the fans who have written her notes or sent her homemade gifts. “More than anything I want to be a positive role model of what a strong woman can be,” she says. She mentions the messages she gets expressing how inspirational her music has been during tough times—something Terrell can relate as she made her own difficult life decisions years ago. “I always want to be honest in my music and encourage people to get involved in creating, too. Art can really save your life; it did for me.”

Terrell is also inspiring future rockers with her edgy look that screams, “I am a woman, hear me roar.” With smokey eyes, cherry red lips, and pops of creative hair color, her look is a little Shirley, a little Gwen, and more than a little Avril Lavigne, who could quite easily pass as her twin.

Rock the Hair

From straight-up blonde to blue to Manic Panic–maroon stripes, the biggest constant in Terrell’s hair routine is constant change. “I have to be careful not to fry my hair though,” she says, laughing about that time her bangs broke off because she over-processed them.

All that change means a serious reconstruction product like Bumble and Bumble’s Quenching Hair Masque. “I apply it once or twice a week all over my head, put on a shower cap over, and let it sit for two hours. It makes your hair feel totally different, like it’s become healthy again,” she says. Terrell also likes Bumble and Bumble’s shampoos and conditioners, and tries to take showers at night to let her locks air-dry overnight, to avoid heat damage.

Terrell’s go-to pompadour with teased bangs also requires a good hair spray. Her favorite is Got2b’s Glued Blasting Freeze Spray, which she says allows her to create any style (like the slicked back high ponytail she often favors on stage). “Just don’t go near a fire with it or you’ll need a wig,” she jokes.

Rock the Makeup

If you dig through Terrell’s makeup bag, you’re likely to find a whole lot of MAC. It’s been her favorite brand since she was 13, she says: “I love their color palettes, and they don’t test on animals.” Terrell has been mostly experimenting with darker lips lately, like MAC’s bordeaux shades Cyber, Prince Noir, and Heroine. Her all-time favorite, though, is more a classic cherry hue, MAC’s Russian Red. To keep all those bold lip colors in place, the singer finishes her application with a splash of MAC’s Fix+ Setting Spray on her face and lips.

For eyes, Terrell rocks a smokey look with winged liner, and she’s recently found that gel does the trick better than liquid products. “My eyes water all the time, which makes liquid liner smudge, so that I have to reshape it constantly,” she explains. (Note: we LOVE Inglot Cosmetics AMC Eyeliner Gel, which comes in 22 shades!) Terrell uses an angled brush to apply the gel, and then emphasizes the look by drawing over it with an eye pencil like Inglot Cosmetics AMC Eyeliner. And Terrell says she never leaves home without her falsies.

The singer is one of those lucky few who can get away with no foundation; instead she focuses on only powder and adds some highlighter under her eyes and on her chin and forehead for a natural glow. Her other trick? Use eye shadows as blush. “Make Up For Ever just came out with a new line of Aqua Creams that are great for cheeks,” she says, noting she mostly goes for peaches or brighter pinks for a light flush. “Since my eyes and lips are so heavy, I don’t want to go too overboard with my skin. Subtlety is key.”

Playlist options

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/hardlineent/neo-geo-kiss-kiss-bang-bang
Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GcAnkPRhUB8


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