Model, makeup artist, musician, poet — there are apparently no limits to what Siiickbrain, aka Caroline Miner Smith, is capable of. Hers is a combination of talent and determination — a determination to succeed that derives from a lonely upbringing in a conservative North Carolina town.
“I grew up on a farm in North Carolina, and I didn’t have any neighbors,” Siiickbrain says by phone. “I was 20 minutes from everything. I was in the middle of nowhere. In my hometown, it’s really conservative. Everyone was very judgy and wore Ralph Lauren, things like that. I never felt like I fit in, which led to me having a lot of anxiety, and I went through a period of time where I had agoraphobia. I felt like I couldn’t be who I wanted to be, I didn’t feel accepted because a lot of people were very close-minded. Not to say that North Carolina isn’t a great place, because it is. But the town that I was in definitely was hard for me mentally, to grow up in.”
So she packed her bags and went to New York. The bright lights of the big city beckoned, and she instantly felt a sense of belonging.
“I just wasn’t happy and I needed more diversity, and that’s what prompted the move to New York,” she says. “I’ve always been really creative. When I moved to New York, I planned on being a makeup artist and I was. I went to school for makeup artistry when I lived in New York, and then worked as a makeup artist. I loved New York so much, it was such an incredible experience. I learned a lot about who I am. Then I moved to L.A. after a year of living in New York, and fell into modeling.”
A move west felt necessary, she says, because she believed that she could further her career in SoCal. Plus, she just wanted to try something new.
“I’m the type of person who loves to try everything,” she says. “I ended up going to school for marketing in L.A. I was doing that as I was modeling and working as a makeup artist. Then all my time got consumed by modeling eventually.”
So she’s in Los Angeles, happily working as a makeup artist and model. But still, her creative energy wasn’t sated and, at the start of 2020, she dipped her toes into recording music.
“I was just doing it as a therapeutic kind of thing,” she says. “I had been writing forever. I wrote a lot of poetry, I was working on a book, and I felt like taking things a little bit further creatively. So I thought I should try music. I started doing that, and then I started releasing things at the beginning of March 2020. Ever since, I’ve just been super deep into it and working really hard. Recording constantly. It’s been the best thing ever for me, mentally.”
Siiickbrain has released a string of excellent and experimental alt-punk singles, as she seeks to find her place in the contemporary music landscape. As a model, she worked with tattoo publications such as Inked, so she felt like she had a show-in with that subculture already.
“I’ve always listened to music that was more of the punk genre, and I have been getting tattooed ever since I was able to when I turned 18,” she says. “It’s always been who I am.”
Things are going well. She loves L.A., and feel like she fits in here. Meanwhile, she’s putting the modeling to one side for the most part, as she focuses on her music. She’s enjoyed some fruitful collaborations of late, notably with Skrillex on “Too Bizarre” and Pussy Riot on “POWER.”
“I’m so happy and lucky that I got those opportunities,” she says. “They just kinda fell into my lap. My experience with Skrillex, it was like three months after I first started recording. It just felt so surreal. There’s a lot of songs that get made, that never get put out. So I thought that this was going to be one of those situations, but it wasn’t. With Pussy Riot, I didn’t know this but Nadya [Tolokno] the singer had already been a fan of my music and she posted something about it. I was like, wow I just made a song in the studio today that she would be incredible on. So I hit her up and asked her if she wanted to be part of it. I love everything she stands for, so it was so incredible to work with her.”
That principled stance, combined with Siiickbrain’s therapeutic approach to her music, is essentially what she’s all about. Even her name is a play on words related to mental issues.
“I felt like my brain was wired wrong in a sense,” she says. “At the same time, I could see that coming through with my creativity. ‘Sick’ is like ‘cool.’ So it’s a play on words, and I did the three i’s because I thought it looked cool. That’s been my name on social media for years and years. Whenever I started music, I just decided to leave it because I like it.”
Her last single was “Silence,” which she says is about toxic relationships.
“When you’re so deep in a situation and in love, infatuated and everything, you get blind to all of the negativity and all of the negative parts of the relationship,” she says. “All the toxicity in it. You yourself can ignore how you’re feeling about a situation when you’re so blind by love.”
With that out, there’s plenty more to come from Siiickbrain, including a new single.
“My new single coming out on the 30th is called ‘Hellslide’,” she says. “It’s a song about an internal battle between good vs evil. I’m so excited about it. I’m shooting the video on Friday. That’s the next thing, and then I have a bunch of shows coming up. Playing some festivals throughout the rest of the year. And some more collaborations that I’m excited about but can’t really say yet. I’m really excited.”
As are we.
Feeling Siiick: Siiickbrain’s single “Hellslide” is out now.