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My Other Life: Vanessa McCullough, Rock Singer

by Katherine Fleming | August 24, 2018

“Music has always been my peace,” says Los Angeles-based nail tech and CND educator Vanessa McCullough. “My clients typically get serenaded when I am doing their nails.” The band she sings in with her husband, who plays the guitar, has remained a constant in her life through job changes and a cross-country move. It all started as a reason to spend time with him. “He used to jam with a bunch of our co-workers and asked me to join in one night,” McCullough explains. “I now know he really just wanted to date me, and thankfully I felt the same, but we wound up playing that night and many nights after.”

The band has had many forms, from a trio to a duo to a five-piece band, and has changed locations from New York to California. They’ve played clubs in New York and Los Angeles, private events, weddings, parties, and fundraisers. “The one thing that always remained the same was my husband and me,” says McCullough. “We have a chemistry on stage and in the studio that is pretty awesome.” Currently, they play together as a duo called The Flames, performing a variety of music by Alanis Morissette, Rihanna, Ed Sheeran, The Cure, U2, Sublime, and more, with original songs sprinkled in (McCullough writes the lyrics and melodies and her husband writes the music). “I like to say it’s my classic rock, because we play a lot of songs that have meaning to me and tunes that I rocked out to as a teen and in my 20s,” she says. “We love taking songs and making them our own.”

Music plays a part in McCullough’s nail career, too. “I think that music is so important when it comes to doing nails,” she says. “If there is bad music playing, I can’t be as creative as when there is good stuff playing. I love that I am able to sit and be creative while doing nails during the day and then belt out my heart and soul and be creative on stage at night. It’s a perfect balance for me.”

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