On Her Own Terms: An Interview with Singer Kim Petras
The term “pop princess” is bandied about a lot these days and its meaning has become as fluid and changing as the times we live in. A glistening tiara is certainly about to be placed on the head of German-born, Los Angeles-based rising pop star Kim Petras. When she was sixteen, she was the youngest person to receive gender reassignment surgery. However, this is just a footnote on her ever-evolving life and career.
She loved pop music from an early age and it’s greatly influenced her sound, which is shimmering synths mixed with disco vibe, solid beats and ardent vocals. This past August she released her debut single, “I Don’t Want it at All,” which made its way to the #1 spot on the Global Spotify Viral Chart and swiftly garnered 3 million streams on Spotify. Her collaborators on that track were music all-stars Dr. Luke, Aaron Joseph, Cirkut and Lil Aaron. Hot on the heels of this scorching single are “Hills” featuring Baby E and “Hillside Boys,” which were released on Spotify’s New Music Friday on 9/22/2017. They are feel-good club bangers, as well as bubbly pop treats.
Kim recently spoke with me about her love for music and what she has in the works.
Sonya Alexander: Why did you start transitioning at such a young age?
Kim Petras: I identified as a girl since I can remember and I was very fortunate to have an accepting supportive family.
SA: How do you think your music would have been different if you hadn’t transitioned?
KP: Luckily we’ll never know.
SA: You’ve mentioned that music videos fostered your love for music. What were some of your favorites?
KP: “Toxic “ by Britney Spears, the Spice Girls “Say You’ll Be There,” “Destiny’s Child ‘s “Independent Woman,” “Glamorous” by Fergie, and No Doubt’s “Underneath It All.” All gems!
SA: How did you get hooked up with The Stereotypes?
KP: I feel like I kind of earned my stripes working with The Stereotypes. It was maybe my 6th songwriting session I’ve ever been to, and they just gave me and a writer I used to write with 3–4 tracks and kinda just let us come up with whatever. One of the tracks really clicked and we wrote a really cool song! They really liked my voice and told me I could write at their studio whenever I wanted to — so I did! I was basically there every day of the week writing every day and in the process started getting better and better. They’re amazing. They’re killing it with Bruno right now!
SA: How did “I Want It All” come together?
KP: So, one day after a big music meeting, my manager took me to Sephora and said I could get whatever I wanted, which is the dream scenario. (laughs) When the total started going up he tensed up a little and the cashier was like, ‘Just close your eyes and swipe it, sweetie!’ I thought it was a hilarious lyric so I wrote it down! The next day we wrote the song. It was a really fun, inspired session. Cirkut, Luke, Lil Aaron and Aaron Joseph are really chill and cool.
SA: Who are some producers you’d like to work with?
KP: There’s tons of people I’d like to work with and I’m a big fan of a lot of producers. I always think it depends on what songs you want to make. A lot of writing depends on being comfortable around the people you work with. I want it to feel like I’m working with friends. It’s hard to pre-determine who I would have good energy with so I’ll just let it happen naturally.
SA: What’s your favorite thing to do after you’ve completed a song?
KP: Blast the song super loud on the way home and send it to my friends and bug them until they listen to it. Then I gotta’ know their opinion on every little detail so I call them up and bug them even more. That’s the standard procedure.
SA: How would you describe your upcoming music?
KP: I really don’t like trying to describe it because I’d like for people to listen to it and make their own opinions, but I’m really just always trying to make music I wanna listen to. Music me and my friends can blast really loud in the car. Most of it has a nostalgic feel because I’m obsessed with all era’s of pop and lyrically I’m really just writing about my life and heartbreak and my friends. All of that with big gigantic adlibs of course!
SA: Where’s your favorite place to write new music?
KP: It used to be my mom’s basement in Germany! I have a pretty loud singing voice, so I could never write in my apartment because the neighbors would complain. Inspiration can really happen anywhere at any given time so right now I don’t really have a favorite place…wherever the best idea happens.
SA: Do you have a band website? Why or why not?
KP: Yeah totally! I also have an Instagram and a Twitter and a Music.ly and all that jazz.
SA: Do you think that online presence is important for fans to find you and critics to find your music to write about?
KP: I think an online presence is super important. I find new artists and songs I like on socials or Spotify. It’s really how people find you. I don’t take posting on socials very seriously though. Most of the time I just post random things I like!