BlackBook Interview + Premiere: Kat Von D Releases Fantastical New Video ‘Enough’ + Exclusive Photo Gallery
Exclusive photos by Vince Rossi
At about forty-five seconds into to her stunning new single ‘Enough,’ Kat Von D piercingly intones, “Getting close is dangerous / It’s dangerous,” and it sends a little chill, considering that for the last seventeen months we’ve been told that not-socially-distancing might just get us killed. She’s actually talking about the perils of losing oneself in the uncertainties of a personal relationship – but when she follows with, “I took you in / You took me down / I let you take me over,” she could just as well be talking about this fatal microscopic virus that has spent more than a year now trying to, well…take us all down.
But in truth, Ms. Von D has never really been as concerned with capturing the zeitgeist as creating one entirely of her own. To be sure, she has spent the better part of two decades offering us escape from our humdrum reality, via her always visually strange and wonderful world. She became the new high priestess of the tattoo with her shows Miami Ink and LA Ink, counting Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Amy Winehouse and even Motley Crue’s Tommy Lee amongst her famous clientele; and in the midst of all that launched Kat Von D Beauty in 2008, her all vegan makeup line which was later bought by LVMH and renamed KVD Beauty. But music has always been her driving inspiration – and at last she will be releasing her long-delayed debut album Love Made Me Do It [KVD/Kartel Music Group] sometime later this year.
In the lead up, BlackBook debuts the fantastical video for her lush new synth-pop single ‘Enough’ (think The Cure crossed with Garbage). For the clip, directed by experimental LA photographer Franz Szony, she’s sent floating out on an imaginary sea, an act which is surely rife with all manner of metaphor.
“The song lended itself perfectly to something cinematic and camp,” Szony explains. “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and Fellini were two inspirations we both loved. Kat truly welcomed my complete creativity without boundaries, even when we weren’t quite sure how to pull things off.”
As for the album, it boasts a head-spinning collection of collaborations, including the likes of Dave Sitek, Ladyhawke, Peter Murphy, Charo(!!!), and Danny Lohner of NIN, who co-wrote ‘Enough.’ Among the highlights are the poignant ballad ‘I Am Nothing,’ and the eerily infectious ‘Exorcism.’
We caught up with Kat to discuss how it all finally managed to come together.
What were you busy with during the pandemic?
We were lucky enough to have the space in the house to move in my bandmates before the lockdowns took place. We would work on music every weekday from noon to 5pm, and I think that really helped us continue to feel productive and creative. We just wanted to take advantage of the downtime to work on our stage show, as well as to start writing new material.
Did you carry on with your beauty and makeup routines, or did you let it all slip because there was really nowhere to go?
I am a creature of habit so my beauty routine wasn’t really impacted by the lockdowns. I also tend to be a homebody, so not much changed for me in that realm.
What finally made you decide to do an album?
I wrote this album almost ten years ago, but got so busy with filming the TV show, going on book tours and launching a makeup line that everything just kept interrupting the music release. But once I was able to sell my makeup line last year, it really allowed me to make music my full-time focus.
When and where was it recorded?
I originally recorded the album back in 2014 in London with Adam Noble, one of my favorite producers, who also [helmed] some of my favorite Placebo records; so that was a real honor for me. But once my band moved in during the lockdown we decided to remix all the songs to [where] they are in now. I’m still proud of the mixes Adam did, and plan on releasing those down the line.
How did you end up working with Charo? What was she like?
Charo is such a firecracker and is one of my favorite people of all time! I have been such a huge fan of hers for so long, specifically her guitar playing. So after she DM’d me on Instagram we had lunch over at her house and became BFFs overnight. We decided it would be amazing to do a song together, and I had always wanted to cover a classic Spanish song from the 1940’s called ‘Los Piconeros.’ Unlike the rest of the album, this song is more stripped down to just vocals and Charo’s flamenco guitars; but we took a more melancholy approach to the original.
What were you listening to, or being influenced by when writing and recording Love Made Me Do It?
We never actually used references from existing bands or anything like that. Most of the time, I have a sound pictured in my head, and Gregg [Foreman] – my synth player – and I will spend hours finding and creating a specific sound until it feels right.
‘I Am Nothing’ is very much about loss. Was there something you were going through that inspired it?
Most of the songs on this album were inspired by a dysfunctional relationship I had about ten years ago. They aren’t as much about loss as they are about our ability to break our own hearts – wanting something so badly that just isn’t in the cards, and the helplessness that comes with it.
Are you really into exorcisms? And do they really work?
Ha! No, I am not an exorcist. But I do love the correlation with love and losing yourself in someone. Losing control of yourself and who you used to be, like a demonic possession would cause.
Listening to it now, what does the album mean to you?
I have since processed all those feelings and don’t think about them the way I used to, when I first wrote these songs. But I do remember how alone I felt when I wrote them; and if any of my songs make people feel less alone in this world, that is a beautiful thing to me.