Kim Petras is Sitting Pretty on Her Pop Throne

Diana Soto,

Kim Petras didn’t conquer the throne of pop overnight. Nor did she do it by chance. Her story hides a long-distance race and her voice not only makes us dance ‘till we drop, but also serves as a powerful tool to make a more-than-necessary change in society. Singer, songwriter and LGBTQ advocate among many other gifts, she is here to show the entire world rules are meant to be broken.

Top by Jil Sander, Shorts and boots by GCDS, Photography by Diego Villarreal

Let’s start from scratch. Imagine I don’t know you, I don’t have a clue. Who is this girl? Please, introduce yourself…
So I’m Kim, I was born and raised in Cologne, Germany. I’m a songwriter, a pop enthusiast and I’ve been on the journey to find the perfect pop formula since I was 14 or something.

Your moment arrived in Germany at the age of only 13 thanks to Stern TV, but it was a year later when the media set all eyes on you. Do you think that your personal situation at that point [on the threshold of a gender reassignment surgery which would arrive at 16] gave you more visibility and a kind of ‘advantage’ compared to any other pop singer who was paving their own way in the industry?
I didn’t feel like my moment was coming at all, it was really about helping other trans kids who maybe don’t have supportive parents get through life. It wasn’t about me or my music, and it wasn’t about fame, it was literally for helping people. So no, I feel it didn’t have anything to do with my music career. It was a separate chapter.

You toured around radio stations and that helped build the Kim Petras of today. How was the first opportunity given? How did you get the ‘call’ and what is the filter/process you have to undergo to be chosen?
There is no call! I put my first single out like 10 months ago, now we decided to go to radio with Heart To Break. But nobody invited me. I’m showing up there and I’m like please, please, play this song – and if I’m lucky they will. So, it is a real hustle doing a radio tour – there’s no invitations being sent out for that.

Your parents supported you from the very beginning and encouraged you to use gender-neutral clothes. How was undergoing the process when being sheltered by such close people? Was it an easy process or a hard one?
I definitely say it was much easier than a lot of people’s. I don’t want to complain about anything because I had amazing, supportive parents who went through this together with me. But, at the same time, it’s hard growing up transgender. People in your school don’t understand, you get bullied, you have to go to the boy’s locker room and get bullied. People didn’t always understand, especially in teen years, so I feel like it’s always hard to grow up and be different. However, my experience has been so, so amazing at the same time. Having supportive parents, having doctors who helped me get my hormone therapy, who helped me get my gender reassignment surgery.

What is your advice to the people who felt uncomfortable in their bodies and do not want but need a change in their lives?
I just say there is a way to do it. You only have one life and I feel like you have to try and be happy in it and not care as much about what other people say. I know that’s really hard because I know you want people to like you, but living honest and coming out is usually the best and most freeing thing ever. It will probably inspire other people around you to do the same thing too.

Coat by GCDS, T-shirt and shorts by Beyond Retro, Photography by Diego Villarreal

How is Kim Petras in real life? Much more/slightly different than the goddess on stage or the same person?
Look-wise, I definitely wake up and think ‘eww’! It clearly takes some make-up, a weave, lashes, etc. But, at the same time, I always just try to be real, just be honest. I think the show version of me is definitely a more exaggerated version of myself, because I want to be an entertainer, I want to entertain people and make a great show. But it is myself, it’s not like it’s some character, it’s me entertaining people.

You are a role model for millions of people around the globe but, who is/are Kim Petra’s reference(s) both in life and artistically?
Freddie Mercury is like the greatest performer ever to me, I’m really obsessed with him. I think he could wear a white t-shirt and pants on stage and still command an arena with his sheer presence. He was also an amazing writer; I’m still super in love with him. I love Blondie, Billy Idol, Cyndi Lauper, I’m obsessed with Kendrick Lamar, SZA. I used to really love the Spice Girls growing up, Britney, Christina, Madonna – I listened to anybody who made good music.

Who would Kim Petras sing a hit with? And compose for?
My goal in life is to write a song for Rihanna. I think that’s every songwriter’s Holy Grail artist to write a song for. Collaboration-wise, I’d love to work with Selena, I’d love to do a duet. Obviously Drake too. I mean, dude, it’s like astronomical changes of that happening – Drake is super amazing. Kendrick, Cher, lots!

Your universe is playful, feminine and reminds us to Aqua’s Barbie Girl (1997). What are your artistic references?
Visually I love Death Becomes Her, The First Wives Club, The Breakfast Club… I also love horror movies, I think a lot of the direction and camera angles are amazing. I love people like Kubrick, a lot of movie directors in general.


What is the sweetest thing it has ever happened to you in your life?
I guess every time I meet fans and they tell me I inspire them to be themselves – it’s very sweet. Every time they tell me how my music helps them and how much they listen to it is very nice to hear.

How would you describe your music genre? Have you ever considered deepening into any other styles?
I feel like right now I’m pulling from a lot of styles even though it’s very straight, unapologetic pop. I feel like there’s a bunch of trap-hats, for example, that were inspired by West Coast hip hop. If you go deeper into my deep cuts, then you’ll see I’m definitely exploring different genres and styles. I never want to repeat myself.

Tell us more about the process of making a video clip. From the idea up to the post-production. To what extent are you involved?
Every extent. Usually I come up with a treatment for it, even with my ho- mies like I came up with I Don’t Want It At All with Aaron, my roommate, I came up with Heart To Break with Nick, who is one of my best friends, as well and an amazing creative director. We were just drinking butter beer at Universal and coming up with a treatment for Heart To Break and then we got into planning. I’ve definitely learned a lot about these stages. My first video I just showed, but now I’m rehearsing everything before, now there’s like choreography, different sets, outfit changes.
But every single detail I’m involved in. The more you do it, the more you learn about it, the better you get at it. I feel like I’m now nailing ‘my thing’ and I’m really excited about that.

And talking about business it is compulsory to tackle the economic part. Was it easy for a ‘fresher’ in the industry to get to produce your own piece?
It is not easy in general to find a good team to do this with and I think it’s very important that you have a plan and some knowledge in business. I’ve been a songwriter for a while now, so I had some knowledge on publishing, how that whole world works. In general, I think you should be aware about how things work and what deals you’re singing, who your manager is. All these things represent you and your career, those things can also really screw you over. I’m still learning a lot, I’ve been learning about contracts and have an amazing lawyer who really gets down to the details with me about everything. I think to have a long lasting career; you need to know about those things.

Boots by GCDS, Top by Jil Sander, Photography by Diego Villarreal

As a popular and influential person, your physical appearance and looks are closely watched and copied by people worldwide. Have you noticed?
I mean yeah! I’ve seen the one-bun more. I think it’s so cool to inspire people fashion-wise, I’m inspired by people all the time. I go back into old Vogue magazines and look at photo shoots of people like Naomi Campbell and many more, I really want to be really knowledgeable about fashion.

Do you have your own beauty team? Have you ever wondered of changing drastically your look?
I’m still doing my own make-up. I do have people I do use when I do music videos. I always want to keep changing my look, I go between hair lengths/ colors all the time. I switch a lot between super silver and super platinum. I love changing and going for something now, so yeah, who know what’s next.

Let’s look forward on future. Has Kim Petras reached all her goals in life? What’s next?
Definitely not. I want a number one, I want a wildly successful album. I want to keep going, put my next record out next year, I just want to be keep growing as fast I can. I’m going on tour for the first time this year, I want to have a headlining tour next year – but a few of my goals I’ve been lucky enough to achieve. I sold out my first show, which was amazing. I’ve made songs I’m really proud of and I’ve become really secure in myself as a songwriter and as an artist. I know what I want to do.

the writer

Diana Soto

Diana Soto is an editor at ODDA Magazine. Keen on writing, fashion, photography and art, she has made her dream job out of a lifelong passion.

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