Introducing Byrdie Boy: our series here to break outdated perceptions of men and beauty. We'll be highlighting the routines, product picks, and musings of cool guys with a unique POV, so our male and man-aligned readers can learn about skincare, makeup and hair from a trusted, inclusive source. First up: L.A. band LANY's frontman, Paul Klein.
Every writer likes to describe their interviews as "just two friends chatting." Scan through any celebrity profile from the past 20 years and expect to see lines about intimacy, warmth, and being "refreshingly unguarded" that feel like more than a bit of a stretch.
But in the case of LANY's Paul Jason Klein, words like those never feel hyperbolic. From gossiping about Pharrell to crazy things we've heard on podcasts, Zooming with Klein does feel like we're just sipping tallboys around a campfire moments before someone (hopefully he) picks up a guitar. And I know it's not just me—Klein's confessional songwriting has struck a chord with a generation craving authenticity, especially when played against the backdrop of an increasingly lonely digital age. LANY's latest release, Mama's Boy, is a commitment to emotional veracity. Despite infectious melodies and Klein-composed lyrics perfect for gazing out of coffee shop windows like you’re the protagonist of life, no song ever feels manufactured for the charts or even TikTok virality. True feeling and creativity is at the core of everything Klein does and cares about, from his favorite designers to playing live to actually creating a candle meant to be burned while Mama's Boy plays for a multi-sensory listening experience. Oh, and to say that his skin glows would be the understatement of the millennium.
Byrdie spoke with PJK about realness: what really works for him, why LANY really needs an Essie collab, and why this next year is going to be really, really great.
What's your skincare routine looking like these days?
I use this brightening serum by Kate Somerville ($98) every day that I really like, and she has this stuff called ExfoliKate Intensive ($85) that I use maybe every other day in the shower. It makes my skin look so bright and smooth—it's probably my favorite product of all time. I also really like the Ole Henriksen Banana Bright Vitamin C Serum ($65). I’ve been using this shit for months now and it brightens and tightens—I feel like it keeps me looking 12. And then I have some Wrinkle Warrior 2-in-1 Plumping Moisturizer ($95), also by Kate Somerville.
I feel lucky because I don’t have super sensitive skin. And I’m not super well-versed yet [in skincare], I haven’t tried a million things. I really like what I’ve tried so far and don’t have any real skin needs or concerns at the moment. I’m on tour so much—every year we play like 120 shows around the world—I think my skin is like, "We’re just gonna shut off and just not do anything."
That reminds me, how much are you missing playing live right now? Especially after releasing Mama's Boy?
So much. That to me is the most rewarding part—that's what makes it all worth it, when you can go on tour and see how the music translates live and how much it means to people. Because right now, you work really hard on something for like a year and just put it on the internet and you walk away from it like, "Okay, hope you like it…" and then the next day someone else does it. There's just so much going on on the Internet, things get drowned out.
I like your nails. Do you do them yourself or go in for manicures?
I have gone in for a couple of manicures. What's sad is the place I used to go to shut because they just couldn’t stay in business because of the pandemic. Right now, I just have some black OPI nail polish on. I think black is probably my color. I want to do a collab with Essie, to be honest with you! I have three colors that I have always switched in and out for LANY's avatar on Instagram, like these green and blue shades. That would be a cool collection. I’m hoping to someday launch a skincare line myself, by the way. It’s called Blueberry Taylor, but think of Blueberry Taylor as more of an umbrella of all the things I like to make. I do everything for LANY—I love making the merch and making the album art, and I love writing the songs. So most of the things I make fall into the world of LANY, but the other stuff that needs a place to exist will be Blueberry Taylor. It will have shirts I've designed, skincare, candles—like the one I worked on for LANY.
Are you allowed to tell me more about the skincare line or is it under wraps?
I'm working on developing it with someone in Japan right now. I want it to be for everybody, you know? A lot of skincare seems to be really female-focused, and the truth is dudes do care about their faces. They may not admit it or talk about it but I want to normalize the fact that guys want to take care of their face.
What’s been inspiring you lately? Everyone's still kind of inside, so how are you keeping that creativity flowing?
I had this thought a couple of months ago. There's two ways you can come out of this year: really behind, or really ahead. Because everyone is kind of going through the same thing. So you can either be sad and kick the dirt, or you can go and get ahead. There are things I want to accomplish within and outside of music and I’m just taking this time to try and get ahead so when we're all allowed to get back to normal, I won't have wasted an entire year. That alone, that fear of being behind, is inspiring.
They may not admit it or talk about it, but I want to normalize the fact that guys want to take care of their face.
It’s awesome that your creativity means you've hands in everything.
Growing up, I had so many interests and sometimes felt a little scatterbrained because I didn’t know how to start or what to do. Ultimately, my love is music and songwriting and what’s been so cool is going into that world and being who we are has opened doors for us with all the other ideas in my head. So, now's the time to take advantage of that.
Are you into any wellness practices right now, like vitamins, meditation, anything?
I love, love all this shit to be honest. One thing I did start doing—and it's not that crazy—is walking 4.5 to 5 miles every day. I really enjoy it and it takes me a little under an hour and it sounds silly, but I’ve lost 20 pounds. You know when you go on tour, you drink a lot, you don't sleep, you’re eating a lot of chicken nuggets and dumb stuff at night, and I came into 2020 like, "I don’t really love how I’m looking with my shirt off. I gotta change some stuff!" So I obviously changed a little bit of my dietary practices but just going outside—you live in New York, right? I lived there for six months and you're walking everywhere. That was me, just going outside, and the weight fell off.
You feel so much better when you're walking, right?
I feel so much better, it clears my mind. Sometimes I'll listen to music. Like when we were working on Mama’s Boy, I'd listen to us and the album and make a bunch of notes on my walk. Oh gosh, how much do you want to talk about vitamins and stuff? Because I could talk about this all day.
I’m extremely into this, too. I love all the wellness stuff, let’s get into it.
Okay, so this is all kind of experimental, right? Every year there seems to be a new fad or trend. I listen to the Joe Rogan Podcast a lot and they had this guy on there talking about why it's actually meat-based diets that make the absolute most sense. Think about how we’ve evolved and how our ancestors lived—most animals are edible. And conversely, most plants are inedible. Plants have one defense mechanism and that’s to become poisonous. The guy was saying that we're so obsessed with antioxidants but a lot of times these plants kind of fuck up the balance inside of us. He made this argument that we need to be eating "nose to tail" which is a hilarious term but it’s kind of a poetic way of saying to eat all the things you wouldn’t normally eat on an animal like the liver, the kidneys, the heart. And you can buy supplement versions of that! Apparently, the way they do it is by freeze-drying the components of these cows raised in New Zealand. They get all the nutrients and pack it into six pills and you take those every single day.
Whaaat! That’s actually awesome.
I’m trying to think what all six pills are—I think one might even be brain. But the idea is that we can feed these parts of our bodies with it. Like we can fix your liver by eating liver, fix your kidneys by eating kidney.
Are you into meditation at all? Yoga?
I actually hate yoga. Tried it twice, don’t think I ever will again. It's walking for me, and I miss the gym. Obviously, I can't go to the gym but I miss just picking up some dumbbells. And you know what’s crazy, you can't even get dumbbells on Amazon right now. It's all sold out for like, the rest of life. I got a yoga mat to do sit-ups in my place because the floor is tile and even that took like two and a half months.
While we're talking about walking around, what are some of your favorite spots in LA?
I live in the Palisades so I love the water. I love this area in Santa Monica called NoMo—north of Montana, that’s the main street in this area—so I walk around this really beautiful neighborhood. I don't know if I’m going to stay in California. In fact, I'm actually very heavily considering moving to Austin, TX. But if I stay here, that would be the neighborhood I'd love to buy a house in, they're all so beautiful. I'd stay in the West Side, that's my favorite part of L.A. Silver Lake, Echo Park, and Downtown are not really my scene.
What are some things or products bringing you true joy right now?
Of course, I'm thankful for Apple TV and all the streaming services right now (LAUGHS). But in terms of products, I keep a jade roller in my fridge and use it if I feel puffy in the morning or before a shoot. There's this stuff called Liquid IV that you can put in your water that brings up all the electrolytes and hydrates you really quickly so I use that if I'm feeling dehydrated from a night out or want to get really well hydrated—because you can feel when you’re really dehydrated, you know? It changes everything. I also like this GOSHI exfoliating towel. Kinda embarrassing, but sometimes I have these little bumps on the back of my arm but this GOSHI towel gets rid of them and also makes me feel really good and clean. What’s really bringing me joy is Sunset Cowboy, the LANY candle ($30). The goal with making it was to create as visceral of a listening experience as possible—and it smells really damn good to be honest with you. When deciding on the scent, I went with what I thought reflected the energy and emotion of the album. I wanted to place the listener around a fire in a backyard sipping whiskey in their hometown. And of course, the name of the candle and the packaging was super important to me. I felt like "Sunset Cowboy" painted the perfect picture.
What's something people would be surprised to find in your medicine cabinet? Other than cow heart supplements, of course.
Maybe apple cider vinegar supplements? The real stuff tastes terrible but the pills are totally doable. And that's something that is very good for you, for weight loss, for your skin. Incredible. We have a friend named Eric who lost a significant amount of weight just through apple cider vinegar.
Who are your style icons right now? Who do you think has a cool look or vibe?
Shia LaBeouf. I've always thought Pharrell, too—and his skin is so pretty.
And he looks so young! I know the whole joke about him actually being a vampire but he really doesn’t age
I hear…and it's probably just hearsay or a rumor but I've heard that he puts his entire face and neck into a bucket of ice-cold water and does it for like 60 seconds. And I don't know what that does, but apparently, something's working. It sounds like a ton of work, like can you imagine waking up every morning and filling your bucket with ice? That's dedication. But yeah, Shia Labeouf is obviously a style god. I'm not very interested in Kanye’s music but I'm so interested in his fashion. And I think Ralph Lauren is the great American designer. I’m actually obsessed with Ralph Lauren.
What is it about Ralph that gets you?
There’s so much. I’m very close to my Uncle Buddy who I grew up adoring and he’s almost exclusively worn Polo Ralph Lauren his entire life, so I think I associate Polo with Uncle Buddy. And when I moved to L.A. for a summer when I was 19, I worked at the Ralph Lauren shop on Rodeo Drive and that was so cool. Elton John came in one time and I helped him pick out ties—and what’s so crazy is that Elton John plays LANY on his podcast on Apple Music! But to me, Ralph’s ability to exist outside of the time of trends and still always have a place in pop culture doesn’t happen very often, or ever. Also, he’s been married once to his wife for a thousand years and they’re still in love.
Shop the limited edition LANY Candle below while supplies last.