Justine fronted Elastica, a post-punk band from the UK whose first album was pretty much the soundtrack to my year in 1995. Recognize the opening riff of their hit single, Connection? They never blew up here, but that song got around on MTV. And they were massive in England. Huge. I was all about women in rock back then, and while I was a fangirl to many, Justine was the only one I actually wanted to be. She had a swagger and confidence that was incredibly sexy to behold, and which was balanced out by this elegant British restraint.
Her style was what I’d describe as Punk Rock Tomboy From a Nice Family.
She could make a black button-down shirt look like the hottest thing ever.
Revolition grrrrl style now wasn’t really her thing—there was nothing too politicized about Elastica—but a lot of their music was very distinctly about womens’ sexual power and desire. Not in a statement-y way, but in a droll, smart, and really fun way that you could dance to.
Elastica’s second album was good but not great, and after that the band just sort of fell off. There were discouraging and very persistent rumors of drugs. It was all quite depressing.
And yet everything turned out fine. Justine went on to collaborate on songs for her friend and former flatmate MIA, and she did some presenting for the BBC. And then Justine just up and decided to leave London, taking up residence at the tiny, Buddhist-leaning Naropa Institute in Colorado. After completing her studies, she moved to the Bay Area, where she met and married her husband, a professor of atmospheric science at UC Davis. Now she’s a painter, and sounds quite happy indeed. How much better could this story possibly have ended? How can one help but wonder at the fantastic improbability of it all?