Dan Black, pop star on the rise, is fresh from a fitting at Dior Homme, sipping tea in a Comme des Garçons spotted T-shirt he’s cut off at the neck. In the era of ultra-styled pop darlings, this starts to feel like really something: a guy dressed by himself, occasionally distressed by himself. And who dares take a scissor to CdG?

“Well, you know,” Black says with a little laugh. “It was either that or I couldn’t wear it. I don’t like it when it’s too close around the neck.”

You’ll likely be hearing a lot more from—and about—Black, who’s in town on tour with Robyn and Kelis. The stylish young Brit (aside from CdG, he’s wearing Surface to Air jeans, Converse shoes, and a Margiela necklace) has been making music for years, first in a few London bands (”the classic English four-man guitar-piece thing,” he says), but it’s his solo work, recorded in Paris, that’s brought attention his way. And “attention” is putting it mildly. There’s the opening spot with the mega-tour of the moment, for one, and then there’s the two MTV Video Music Award nominations he picked up yesterday, for “Symphonies,” his video featuring Kid Cudi. “It was very, like, ‘huh?’ and surprising,” Black says of the nominations. “It still feels like what I’m doing, I’m in the foothills, and I’m trying to get up into the mountains.”

MTV viewers will be less surprised. “Symphonies” has been in heavy rotation on the network lately, thanks in no small part to its witty mélange of special effects and styles—everything from Tron to Hitchcock. The video was produced, as are most of Black’s visuals, by a collective of friends and collaborators he calls the Chic & Artistic Agency. There are shades of Lady Gaga’s Haus of Gaga to the partnership of a slightly eccentric musician and a dedicated visual team—and come to think of it, Black does share the Lady’s penchant for occasional face paint—but as he describes it, it’s all a matter of necessary and expedient collaboration. “When I’m trying to articulate something, it’s very hard to articulate and put into a visual form,” he says. “They know I won’t like or will like, or what will work.”

Judging from the video’s success—to say nothing of the song, a fizzy bit of electropop—they know what they’re talking about. “I like things that have an amazing little universe, and that seem to be on a little iceberg of their own, floating out into the sea,” Black says of the songs and artists that most appeal to him. If you’re missing his own iceberg tonight (both dates are sold out), you’ll have another chance when he and his band hit Lollapalooza this weekend.

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