Suki Waterhouse on ‘Daisy Jones and the Six’ and turning a broken heart into music
It’s been a wild ride for rock goddess Suki Waterhouse.
The shaggy model-turned-actor-vocalist has spent more than two years as the headstrong keyboardist for the hit Prime Video series Daisy Jones & the Sixers — the last two episodes of which about the fictional ’70s band air Friday — while chasing her very real musical career.
Months before the show premiered at number one on the television and music charts, Waterhouse headlined a 22-date tour, including a sold-out show at New York’s Webster Hall. Bathed in purple light, dressed in Saint Laurent spandex pants and a sheer turtleneck blouse, she sang catchy tracks from her debut album “I Can’t Let Go” to an adoring crowd that knew the words.
“It was one of the best nights of my life,” says the charming 31-year-old Alexa. “I’ve only been on stage for a year, and the halls have grown so quickly from 100 to almost 2,000 people. I was a little taken aback.”
During the week of shooting for the cover of Alexa, Waterhouse was on a tightly scheduled Daisy Jones promotional tour, appearing all over town in cool retro outfits. At the Empire State Building photo shoot with the cast, she looked like she stepped out of a time machine in Philosophy di Lorenzo Serafini denim shorts, Adrienne Landau’s fluffy faux fur coat, floral choker and giant sunglasses.
In the same skintight outfit, Waterhouse performed full concerts for her role in Daisy Jones, the film adaptation of Taylor Jenkins Reed’s best-selling book of the same name. The book was partly inspired by the epic love story between Fleetwood Mac’s Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham. The series stars Riley Keough (Elvis Presley’s granddaughter) and Sam Claflin as lead duelists battling jealousy, addictions and a flawed childhood. Waterhouse’s character, Karen Sirko, was based on the late English keyboardist and supergroup vocalist Christine McVie.
To prepare for her part, Waterhouse had to take three months of intensive piano lessons. But with interruptions due to COVID-19, that period stretched into a year and a half of three-hour classes and rehearsals at Sound City, the legendary recording studio in Los Angeles.
“In the beginning, I was so terrible, I wrote nursery rhymes, and then, for a year, I wrote Bach plays,” she says. “In fact, without the pandemic, we would probably be a complete musical disaster. We had to learn 12 songs – studio versions and live ones – and they changed a lot. They really wanted us to be completely confident and play every note right.”
Catchy melodies fill Aurora, a blockbuster record released by an imaginary band before they broke up. Grammy Award-winning producer and guitarist Blake Mills wrote and produced original music with Phoebe Bridgers, Marcus Mumford, Jackson Browne, Taylor Goldsmith, Madison Cunningham and other friends. The result was so amazing that a real Atlantic Records album was released on March 2, with tracks performed by the actors. Within hours, it reached number one on the US iTunes charts (a first for a fictional band), while the vinyl version took Amazon by storm.
“I’m in heaven,” one YouTube listener enthused. “I NEED MORE,” pleaded another.
Filming the Sixers’ last sold-out show (at Thad Gormley Stadium in New Orleans, dressed to look like Chicago’s Soldier’s Field) turned into a near-apocalyptic adventure.
“We all get tested, Sam gets COVID, and we have to postpone for a few more days or a week,” Waterhouse recalls. “And then we will go back to the football stadium and we are going to return to the stage. And a violent storm begins and the stage begins to fall. And they keep us in our trailers and we can’t move, and there’s lightning. There were so many anticipatory moments.” But in the end, they captured the adrenaline and poignancy of the last show before the band announced their departure.
Music has always been a passion for Waterhouse, who kept a diary and wrote songs for years. But the cool London girl – the daughter of the famous plastic surgeon Norman Waterhouse and his wife Elizabeth, an oncology nurse – started with a modeling business. A few years after she was discovered in the store, at the age of 16, she became the face of Burberry’s Brit Rhythm fragrance and landed on the covers of British magazines such as Elle, Tatler, L’Officiel and British Vogue. Hailed as the muse of the millennium with tousled bangs, big eyebrows, an eclectic wardrobe and glamorous childhood friends like Georgia May Jagger and Cara Delevingne, she had a carefree personality and a cheeky smile that the camera loved.
High-profile relationships only added to her charm. She dated English musician Miles Kane for two years. met actor Bradley Cooper at an awards show when she was 21. Their two-year whirlwind romance was marked invitation to a state dinner at the White House — where she “looked like crap” with a hilarious bad haircut — and chic performances at the Oscars, the Screen Actors Guild Awards, the Met Gala and London Fashion Week. After their painful breakshe occasionally dated actor Diego Luna, whom she met on the set of their film The Bad Batch.
Over the past five years, she was strong with Robert Pattinson glory of “Twilight” and “Batman”. The discreet couple lives together in London and Los Angeles and is photographed kissing in parks or at parties, but she is wary of their romance.
“He has so much to love, I could be here all day,” counters Waterhouse, who is level-headed, thoughtful and unfailingly polite in person. “We just support each other and that’s the most important thing.”
When Waterhouse’s acting career took off in 2016 after her roles in Divergent: Insurgent and The Bad Batch, she self-released the raw and explicit vocal single “Brutally”.
“It was kind of in the middle of that depressive, heartbreaking phase of my life and it was a time when I felt like everything was coming to an end. It was the first song: the first big heartbreak, and the first time I felt like I wrote something that I was ready to share, and the first song I released.”
She carefully released one track a year and finally gained the confidence to release a full album, which was released last May via Sub Pop. “It took me years to feel like I was ready to make an album. It came from such a simple need to be able to sort out what was going on around me and the breakups in relationships. Also, to be honest with myself, my early 20s were quite fraught with lack of boundaries and sudden transformation into a public person. In a way, it’s like a mini-trauma, especially when you’re so young. Basically, you’ve come out of your parent’s house and found yourself dealing with a lot of problems, and you don’t have all the tools yet.”
Fragile, contemplative, bold, her album captures the drama of a life unexpectedly lived in the spotlight. The mournful “Melrose Meltdown” captures the heartache of a dissolving relationship and references a scene that actually happened on the Sunset Strip.
“I was in the middle of a breakup and left the Chateau [Marmont hotel] with a couple of hundred pieces of diamonds, which the guard asked to return, Waterhouse explains with irony.
In November, she followed her freshmen with “Milk Teeth”, a six-song EP and a series of shows in Europe and the UK.
Now that Daisy Jones is out, Waterhouse is back on the road playing his own music at Lollapalooza festivals in South America. She will be back on the East Coast this spring with shows in Atlanta and at the Gov Ball in Queens.
When she’s not traveling the globe, Waterhouse just wants to play nesting. “Free time is like choosing a sofa with my boyfriend. The part of my life that I really like now. Trying to figure out what kind of sheets I need and choosing the photos I want to frame. If I’m not working, I want to invest all my time in making my home feel like home.”
Looks like she might be adding the goddess of the hearth to her growing resume.
Fashion Editor: Serena French; Stylist: Anahita Mussavian; Photo editor: Jessica Hober; Fashion Assistant: Madeleine Shepherd; Hair: Kevin Ryan for Frankie Salons; Makeup: Maria Riskis of The Wall Group; Manicure: Aki Hirayama in Tracey Mattingly
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