“This interview is so fire the alarms went off!”
Kim Petras, pop’s newest “it girl,” was entirely unphased when interrupted by the fire alarms that went off during our conversation. Calm and confident, she perfectly mirrors the music she has been working on for years, and she never misses a beat both in conversation and in her work as an artist.
“After working on music since I was like 13, 14 years old, I started writing, started being really obsessed with it. So (gaining recognition has) been really amazing, I kind of performed to semi-empty clubs my whole life and really hustled really hard to get recognition and stuff like that,” Petras said. “So it feels really amazing, and I’m just really thankful that I get the opportunity to play to packed clubs and sold out shows.”
Petras’s hard work is clearly starting to pay off as evidenced in her rapidly growing fan base while earning her an opening slot on Troye Sivan’s current tour. Her artistic vision has been influenced by this struggle, often offering a foil to the fantasies she weaves into her songs.
“‘I Don’t Want It at All,’ for example — I wrote that in a shitty apartment, like sleeping on a futon. I sometimes write songs about how I dream about my life or how I fantasize about life. For me, as a kid, loving pop music, growing up loving pop, I ran home from school everyday to watch the new Gwen Stefani music video, and I just like live in it and forget about my problems and school,” she said. “To this day, a good song can make me forget all my problems and just be happy for three and a half minutes, so to me that’s the most beautiful thing about music. So that’s what I’m trying to create, that’s what I’m trying to do for my fans.”
To date, Petras now has a repertoire of eight singles and a seven track Halloween-themed EP titled TURN OFF THE LIGHTS, VOL. 1. While a relatively newer artist, her music is as addictive as anything you’d expect from a veteran of pop, which is likely a product of her wide list of influences. Petras isn’t just a massive pop fan, but an artist who draws inspiration from a wide array of genres and musicians.
“I really am a fan of all music. Especially currently, there’s so much amazing rap happening. I’m just a huge fan of the new Travis Scott album ASTROWORLD. I’m really into Rae Sremmurd; my friends lil aaron and Baby E have some amazing songs coming out,” she noted. “I’m just making a bunch of playlists recently. And I’ve been listening to the first Beyoncé album Dangerously In Love a bunch.”
What is most impressive about Petras’s debut music is that it’s high quality pop spread across a wide spectrum of sub-genres. There’s the hard-pressed verses and lackadaisical chorus of “All The Time,” the R&B-tinted “Slow It Down,” sugary pop on “Heart to Break” and the house-pop hybrid “In The Next Life.” If her track record is any indication, then Petras is an artist with almost unlimited potential and flexibility: “My goal is always to keep growing and to not repeat myself, to do whatever feels right and to write authentic songs to me. I’m going to continue doing that really,” she said.
Petras writes music not just for herself, but also with and for her best friends: “We love to put on a song that we love and scream at the top of our lungs and go really crazy, and I want to create that same thing.” And this idea seeps into her collaborations as well. In the past, she has worked with Charli XCX, lil aaron and Baby E, and also revealed that she has collaborations with SOPHIE coming out in the near future.
“I have collaborations with SOPHIE coming out, so that’s really exciting, I’m a big SOPHIE fan. I always love collaborating with people like Charli and artists that write,” she revealed. “For me, I just want to write with people who care about their music and want to write songs and can write songs. So I collaborate a lot with one of my homies lil aaron, I’ve done a bunch with him. He’s one of the most talented writers I’ve ever met. I love to work with people that are friends and just have a good vibe. I like when it feels like hanging out with your friends, opposed to feeling like work and feeling stressful.”
The periodical release of her singles over eight months leading up to the release of her EP on Oct. 1st (the perfect gift for the beginning of the Gay Christmas Season) was a purposeful decision from a modern artist of the 21st century. In an effort to build up hype around each release, Petras and her team made this decision to release a single every month, which clearly paid off given her current popularity.
“Even before I put up “I Don’t Want It at All” I had these songs ready to go. We were just thinking about how to release it best and to break me as a new artist. And especially now, I just love how rappers are doing. They just constantly put out new work and new mixtapes — there’s kind of no rules for that,” she said. “I think in this streaming era, you know, artists just have to do things differently, and how artists work is going to be so different from now in a while. It was exciting to not release it as an album, but to drop a new song every month. Every month we could get more playlisting, we could get a new set of eyeballs on each song.”
Along with her incredible talent, Petras is an absolute inspiration to the LGBT community. Being queer herself, she proudly discusses her beginnings in queer clubs and blossoming popularity within the LGBT community that has begun to infect the mainstream. Now, opening for fellow queer artist Troye Sivan, the duo are lighting crowds alight with their energy and pride.
“This tour has been such an amazing LGBT — like 20-gay-teen — moment. I love Troye and what he stands for. I love his music so much, and I think he’s an amazing artist. And I think it’s great that LGBT artists are getting recognized for their work rather than their sexuality or their gender identification. I think that’s such an amazing thing that’s happening right now, and I’m so glad to be a part of it,” she said.
Given her daring attitude, seductive fantasies and multifaceted talent, Kim Petras has arguably been 2018’s biggest breakout artist in the pop scene. Her creativity and passion bleeds into her music, with pomp and energy that let her listeners melt into her world. If Petras is any indication, there’s a reason pop music has always been one of the most boundary-defining genres, and if she continues to deliver, we have some incredible content to look forward to.
This Sunday, you can catch Kim Petras as she opens for Troye Sivan at the Fox Theater.