“It’s everything that I am, a little wrong, a little weird, a little strange at first but then you zoom in and it’s beautiful,” says Kim Petras on her red carpet look for the Met Gala this year. Attending the Met was just one of Petras’ many stand-out moments in recent months—performing at Lollapalooza, the VMAs, and Maisie Wilen’s NYFW show are among others. But no matter where she goes, she is unapologetically herself, challenging conventions about pop music and female beauty in whatever weird, strange, and beautiful way she wants.
Turning heads is nothing new for Petras, she’s had a loyal fan base since her 2017 breakout hit “I Don’t Want It All” which featured Paris Hilton in the music video. She has years of songwriting experience, having written for other artists before her solo career, but coming up with the catchy can’t get them out of my head lyrics is only a facet of her creativity. She’s a very visual-based person, chatting with me over Zoom about how she HAD to make her vision of being on the sinking Eiffel tower a reality and it finally happened for her “Future Starts Now” music video. Finding inspiration in designers and directors, Petras’ mind is always brimming with creative ideas, and fashion is inextricably tied to her identity as an artist. Horse girl chic? Check. Bubblegum pop star? Check. Baguette bitch? Oui. Everything we’ve seen from her this year is just the beginning as she recently signed to Republic Records and is gearing up for the release of her debut album.
We discuss the inspiration behind her debut album, VMAs, Met Gala, and why pop music is just as artistic as any other genre.
What was the inspiration behind your “Future Starts Now” music video?
It was celebrating the end of the world [and] celebrating change. If we knew it was the end of the world wouldn’t we want to go out dancing and singing? That was the main inspiration but I always had dreams about me climbing the Eiffel tower while it’s sinking, [I] always wanted to do that. There’s a very famous voguing documentary about Paris burning, so I wanted to do Paris sinking. When I signed to Republic Records I was like ‘I have to climb the Eiffel tower, can you guys help me make that a reality?’ [The] album and music were very inspired by Europe, a lot of French house, a lot of German techno, Italian disco. I’m from Europe and a lot of songs would blow up that were [in] different languages. So I’m celebrating that a bit in “Future Starts Now” and I was very inspired by my childhood [and] my teen years in Europe because in lockdown that music made me very happy to listen to in my room by myself.
How did your upcoming debut album come together? What was the creative process?
Me and my two friends, Alex Chapman and Aaron Joseph, Aaron has written every single song I’ve ever released. With [me] he’s kind of my production and songwriting partner. We moved into an Airbnb, we made a bedroom into a studio, and set up a recording booth in the closet. I think it was after a month of being in lockdown we were like ‘I don’t want to do this alone and I want to be productive’ we kind of helped each other by writing together and believing that eventually, we would be able to put it out. During [the] lockdown, I wanted to move to Paris because I had just played all of Europe and Paris was by far my favorite show, my french fans are incredible. So that all went into the creating process. Honestly, I spent the most time I’ve ever spent in the studio this time around because there was nothing else to do. So I’m proud and I think it’s a very cohesive album.
VMAs was a big night for you from driving to the red carpet with Paris Hilton to your performance, what was the most memorable part of the night?
View this post on Instagram
Sweating out of that latex suit, every five seconds we had to blot because just puddles of sweat were coming out. It was gross, [laughs] but I’m so happy that I did it. That’s the first thing that comes to my mind, just complaining [laughs]. I mean the bubblegum performance was the perfect first look for a lot of people to see me because I’ve always loved pop music and bubblegum pop especially gets a rep of not being art, not being as valuable as songs that are sad or songs that are slow. I think catchy music is an art and it’s a skill to make catchy music and that’s what I’ve always focused on. I was a songwriter before I was ever a pop star, I love pop songwriting and I wanted to wear bubblegum proudly. I think the simpleness of making something catchy and stripping it back [is] such a skill to me that I don’t think gets rewarded often so I wanted to save bubblegum pop because I love it.
Paris [Hilton] of course was my first music video ever when I had no followers and no music out and she was still in it cause she loved the song and I’m forever so grateful to her. So there’s no one else I would have rather had [driven] me to the red carpet in a pink mini convertible. It was so cute.
How would you describe your visual identity and where do you find inspiration?
I find inspiration in movies, old and new. I go through directors like ‘okay I’m going to watch all of David Lynch’s movies [or] I’m going to watch all of [Stanley] Kubrick’s movies.’ I’m a real movie nerd, I’m obsessed with the fantasy of a movie. I love directors and fashion designers, I used to buy Vogue [with] my pocket money and I used to go to the thrift store to find something that didn’t just look like what everyone else was wearing. I’ve always really identified with fashion and the way I dress affects my mood dramatically. I get dressed up to write songs even in my house. It helps me so much to be creative and to feel like myself and I don’t really pay attention to what people think is sexy, especially what men think about how a girl should dress. That’s not what I dress for, I dress for myself. I dress when no one’s around but I’m also different every day. Sometimes I do wear almost nothing and I go out in a thong and a sheer dress and some days I wear full crazy Rick Owens. I love fashion. I see it as an art and I love designers. If you have a vision to streamline it and make it come to life is the most beautiful thing ever, that’s what I’m always chasing just seeing exactly what I see in my head manifest.
You recently attended the Met Gala, how did your red carpet look come together?
View this post on Instagram
Collina Strada is very out there in the best way possible and I came to the fitting with a bunch of ideas when we first met about the possibility of the Met Gala. She showed me the sketch and she was like ‘I made this thing it’s called a horset, it’s a horse’s head and it’s super light and it goes on top of this dress.’ And she told me about how she grew up competing with horses, all that equestrian stuff, and that was her vision and interpretation of American fashion. I was like ‘okay’ and definitely it’s everything that I am, a little wrong, a little weird, a little strange at first but then you zoom in and it’s beautiful. The silk that the dress was made out of is actual flowers—roses—it was so soft and beautifully made. I like wearing things that split opinions and I think that’s what the Met is there for, that was my personal mission to be like this is also beautiful—maybe in a weird and strange way—but to me it’s beautiful. I didn’t just want to pull up in a hot dress.
What are you looking forward to most about the future?
I’m looking forward to touring. I miss touring so much, especially my own tour- that’s when the energy and connection to my fans and the freedom there is like nothing else. I want my album to be out as soon as possible. I have so many songs I’m so proud of and I can’t wait to share. But it’s an exciting chapter because now I’m signed to Republic Records and I feel totally at home already. It’s so cool to have a champion like that that believes in me and I feel like I can get a lot more done now because they help me make my visions exactly the way I want them to be. I’m given full creative control over everything still which was very important to me but I can be an artist a lot more and think about the creative stuff rather than the logistical stuff when I was independent so it’s great.