BlackBook Interview: Kim Petras on Madonna, Paris Hilton’s Closet & Being Really, Really Prolific
A decade after transitioning, 2018 would be a pivotally explosive year for Kim Petras, the budding pop star, model, and all around fierce person who now calls Los Angeles her home. She tore up the stage at the Billboard Hot 100 Fest, strutted gloriously around New York Fashion Week, toured with Troye Sivan, and released a series of musical gems including the massive hit “Heart to Break,” which topped 16 million streams. Not enough? She also dropped the critically-acclaimed Halloween-themed mixtape Turn Off The Light Vol. 1.
Petras was also nominated for a GLAAD Media Award for breaking barriers as Outstanding Music Artist alongside Janelle Monáe, Years & Years, and Christine & The Queens.
But 2019 finds her on a new mission: releasing singles at a lightning pace, which has netted the considerable likes of “Broken,” “Got My Number,” “Blow it All,” “Sweet Spot,” “Do Me,” and her most recent, “Personal Hell.” In the midst of a 20 date North American and European tour that takes her into September – we sat her down for a chat about it all.
You’re an independent artist. With this, you really have more control over your music and you’re using this power to release new tracks and projects on your own terms. What led to this strategy of releasing a new song each week? It reminds me of how Justin Bieber released his Journals album on a “Music Monday” basis before turning them into a compilation album. Is that the same idea here?
Kind of – yes! We wrote about 40-something songs for this new era. I was like “Okay, I want to start putting them out now and getting them done on the go.” We wanted to give ourselves the challenge of keeping up with it and finishing each of these songs in not a lot of time – having a song ready to go every week. That’s how it came about, really. Last era, I released a track a month, so it was also fun to pick the speed up. I never want to repeat myself, so it’s keeping things interesting. I like that my fans are looking forward to a new song every week – it keeps me going. It’s like a new episode of a TV show coming out every week.
You have hinted that upcoming songs are going to be a true representation of you, rather than the “club version” of you. Does that go for the music and the lyrics both?
I feel like I’m a different person every single day, but I think all it’s 100% me. For this particular era, I wanted it to feel like you’re hanging out with me when you listen. I’m kinda inviting you into my life – and into my problems, too. I feel like my fans are my friends and I want them to know what I’m going through, I want them to know that everyone gets sad sometimes. I want them to relate and put the songs on when they go through the same things. I want to make the soundtrack to their lives, not just their parties…even though I do think I’ve put out four party bops already this era: “Blow It All,” “Sweet Spot,” “Got My Number,” and “Do Me.” I feel like I’ve gotten more confident on this record to talk about the not-so-glamorous moments. I just now feel comfortable to kinda share that.
Can you confirm there will be an album? If so, how many songs can we expect, and how many are yet unheard?
There will be a project – I can say that. There are going to be plenty of songs on it, but if I give any of it away there’d be no surprise, it wouldn’t be fun, and life would suck. But there’s going to be a project, and this has all been leading up to something, so there’s no need to panic. I see you Twitter stans! I love you and I’ve got you. (N.B. – As this interview went to press, it was announced that eight of her singles would be gathered, along with four as yet unheard, for a collection titled Clarity, released this June 27th.)
How do you feel about Madonna doing the same thing at the same time? Was there any competition there?
I loved it! I’m so here for her. That we started the exact same week doing that was iconic. She’s my favorite pop star of all time. No competition at all. She’s the queen.
With New Music Fridays and CDs being borderline obsolete, the music industry is becoming a revolving door of new songs. How do you think this is going to change how artists release music going forward?
I think this is the new wave. This is the way to do it, especially for me as a new artist breaking into the industry. I think it’s an amazing way to keep yourself out there, rather than taking a year off. For me personally, I just think that if the song is a hit, it’ll do well. It doesn’t really matter what the strategy behind it is. In the streaming era, it’s important to constantly drop new music, I don’t think you can take time off anymore as an artist.
With so many songs out, your fans are waiting for visuals to accompany them. Are there videos in the works? Can you give an idea of what they will look like?
There are things in the works, but I can’t share anything just yet. There is going to be a music video – or maybe multiple ones, who knows? There are going to be visuals for sure, but I’m really happy with the lyric videos and visualizers that I have now. I think they’re really cool and cohesive, and for me, as an OCD artist, they’re really visually pleasing.
You’re about to embark on your first headlining tour, the Broken Tour, which quickly sold out in the US and Europe. What can we expect to see?
Well, this is my first, official headlining tour. It’s the first time that I get to make the stage what I want it to be, that I get the visuals I want, that I get to make the setlist what I want it to be and get to use the whole stage. So, it’s going to be exactly how I want it to be, which is amazing. When you’re playing in clubs, which I’ve done for years and years, you’re using whatever’s there and you take whatever you can get. I don’t think anybody expected the tour to sell out as quickly as it did. It kinda surprised all of us, so it was pretty amazing, and it felt really great. I’ve very thankful and feel very blessed.
I believe that manifestation is real, so let’s speak something into the universe and make it happen. Who would your dream collaboration be with?
Right now…Post Malone! I’m a huge fan and think he’s an amazing writer. I love his sound and listen to him a lot – he’s incredible.
Last question, and possibly our most hard hitting: If you had to pick one closet to shop out of for the rest of your life: Paris Hilton or David Bowie?
Paris Hilton all day! I’ve been in her closet, it’s amazing. She has the best closet out there…definitely.