Our LGBTQ+ Editor sits down with German pop sensation Kim Petras to talk beauty tips, Paris Hilton and trans role models
"She's the soundtrack to every party in town, with a perfectly manicured finger on the pulse of what the pop industry wants and needs. Kim Petras is the pop star we DESERVE. Unapologetic, undoubtedly talented, 00's nostalgic and a bright light for the future. There's no one else quite like her..."
These are the words of our LGBTQ+ Editor Munroe Bergdorf, who has chosen Kim as her latest 'In Conversation With'. After speaking to drag performer and artist Victoria Sin, Munroe picked up the phone and called Kim who was in Seattle on the Bloom tour with Troye Sivan.
For those who aren't as familiar with Kim as the rest of us, she is from Cologne in Germany, was once known for being one of the youngest ever people to undergo gender confirmation surgery at 16 years old, moved into songwriting and performing professionally as an adult, and is now a world-famous pop star known mostly for her catchy, sugary, chart hits. Beauty-wise, her trademark is her long blonde hair, the perfect accompaniment to her bubblegum pink aesthetic. Below, Munroe talks to Kim about her beauty tips, teaming up with Paris Hilton and treading the balance between being an out and vocal LGBTQ+ pop star, and simply making music that people can dance to.
So, to start with, where are you going to be doing Christmas?
Kim Petras: Just in LA! My friends from Germany are coming over to LA, so we’re just going to have a California Christmas. I'm going to try and write as much as possible over the holidays.
A Kim Petras Christmas album?
Kim Petras: Definitely not this year, I think! I'm still working on next year's Halloween album and I also want to drop my debut album next year so that’s why I’m trying to write as much as possible. But I also feel like there are so many Christmas albums out there, I'm just going to stick to Halloween albums and make that my thing for now!
This one was so successful, everybody was loving it, did you expect the success?
Kim Petras: Not really, you know, a lot of people I talked to were like 'that's cool' but they were not expecting it to do anything for me so I really feel amazed that it was like a big wave, that people talked about it a lot and everyone thought it was really fun. I was so happy that people liked the music but also that people were being like: ‘yas! Queen of Halloween!’
Yes! I think a really big part of it was the aesthetic as well, I loved the hand that Lucas did. How did the aesthetic come together, how long was that in the making?
Kim Petras: I think it came together three or four weeks before this album. I wanted to have a spooky moment visually and thought of my friend Lucas David who's an amazing artist who manipulates images really creepily. So we made a 13-day countdown of all the highlights in my career so far and manipulated pictures from the “I Don't Want It At All" video to the “Hard To Break" video.
Iconic. Is the spooky aesthetic here to stay?
Kim Petras: Well now it's an annual thing, I think, with the spooky record. I love horror movie soundtracks like It Follows or Halloween. It just felt really fun and natural to do this. I was having a writer's block moment at first, but it was a great tool that I went to school for writing because it became about having a character that like kills cis men and is really badass so it came in handy to be able to not write from my very own personal perspective.
You're a new artist but your image is so well put together. How did you come to hone the way that you look? Who were your inspirations?
Kim Petras: My inspirations… I loved Madonna and Christina Aguilera and Cindy Lauper growing up. And I was always a big fan of Goldie Hawn, she was my idol I'd say!
Cindy was one of mine as well.
Kim Petras: I adore her and I feel like a lot of experimenting went into my look before I really nailed it and same with the music. As I was finding my musical style I found my personal style as well, and moving from Germany to LA was part of that, raiding the secondhand stores in LA trying out different beauty themes, finding my love for huge lashes and big, long hair extensions.
When it comes to beauty, what beauty item can you not live without?
Kim Petras: Definitely my Anastasia Beverly Hills brow pencil. Brows are my number one thing because I barely have any. It’s my one beauty product I would take to a desert island. That and a moisturiser. I moisturise always.
Paris Hilton is in your debut music video! How was that? How was working with Paris?
Kim Petras: It was so crazy! I was definitely a fan as a teenager, I was so obsessed with her. And it happened because this photographer Charlotte Rutherford had shot Paris a couple times and we were directing the music video together so she just kind of took a shot in the dark and sent Paris the song and then Paris posted a video of herself in her closet just dancing along to the whole song!
Oh my god!
Kim Petras: And she just showed up and was honestly so sweet and gracious to everybody even though we had to do her take a million times because things kept going wrong like the lighting wasn't right and Paris didn't complain once. She was so cool and super sweet to the crew, she took pictures with everybody. She was just a total pearl and really amazing.
So we’ve had the candy pop of the first EP with kind of rock influences then we had the second EP which was a spooky Halloween album. What's the sound going to be like next?
Kim Petras: I think it's going to be a mix of all my influences. My main goal is to keep growing. I just want to make music that feels good and is right for me right now and feels like an evolution from what I've done so far. I definitely think it's going to be like a mix of both, and experimenting with new genres, new tones, new pitches, different kinds of themes because I love all music. I'm not specific. I don't just love one genre!
Is that the same image-wise?
Kim Petras: I like Petra Collins’ visuals, she’s amazing. I've been watching a bunch of Kali Uchi videos, "Goosebumps" by Travis Scott – I love Travis Scott's new album although I didn't like that he took Amanda Lepore out of his album cover, she's such an icon I love her.
Who would be your dream collaboration?
Kim Petras: Dream collaboration... Steven Spielberg. I feel very inspired by Steven Spielberg's movies and all the supernatural stuff. I think this new album is going to be really interesting visually and I have so many ideas that I want to do.
I can see you as Tinker Bell
Kim Petras: Let’s go. I’m down!
I’m the LGBTQ+ Editor of Dazed Beauty so I want to ask you an LGBTQ+ related question. Being a new artist that happens to be trans – because I think it’s important to say it that way rather than saying ‘you’re a trans pop star’ because you’re not a trans pop star, you’re a pop star who happens to be trans – how would you like to see the music industry change when it comes to LGBTQ+ artists?
Kim Petras: Thanks for saying it that way. Well, I think there's a lot to prove. I think LGBTQ+ artists are seen as niche artists, it's hard for them to cross over to the mainstream. I think it takes great artistry and persistence. And there's such a long way to go and so much hustle left to do for equality in the music industry. But there are people out there right now in the community that are changing the face of LGBTQ+ representation in pop music: Hayley Kiyoko, Troye Sivan...
”RuPaul, Amanda Lepore, the German drag queen Olivia Jones, Dr Frank N. Furter from the Rocky Horror Picture Show... There weren’t really that many trans girls around, so my role models were mostly drag queens.”
Kim Petras: Ha, yes. You know, all these cool people that treat their sexuality as a footnote. It's all about including people and equality and I think music is one area where you can project without labels, which is always my goal. I wish we didn't label ourselves so much as people, that we could just be humans. But yeah, it's an ongoing battle and we’re all here for it and it's really exciting that we are finally being represented in pop music.
There's such a surge, I feel, of LGBTQ+ artists, it's really happening right now. It’s a wave and it's really frustrating that the industry says that LGBTQ+ artists are niche but cis artists will take LGBTQ+ culture into the mainstream instead of giving opportunities to artists that are LGBTQ+.
Kim Petras: It’s for sure happening. Let’s be real, there's a lot of really amazing innovators that are LGBTQ+ artists and it just gets taken by these big straight icons. It happens all the time and with all minorities.
Who were your LGBTQ+ role models growing up, did you have any?
Kim Petras: My role models were RuPaul, Amanda Lepore, the German drag queen Olivia Jones, Dr Frank N. Furter from the Rocky Horror Picture Show... Honestly, drag queens. It’s so much better now as there are lots of people to look up to, but there weren’t really that many trans girls around, so my role models were mostly drag queens. I think that defines me a lot, too – I think my humour is very inspired by drag queens, which I love!
You are on tour with Troye Sivan at the moment, the amazing Troye Sivan. Can we expect a Kim Petras headline tour next year?
Kim Petras: I’m still working on it, I’m trying to make it happen. I can't promise anything because nothing’s locked down but I would love love love to go on tour in Europe and America and just do my own thing. And I want it to be big and amazing.
Every single good party that I've been to this year in different countries, I have heard your song being played like everywhere.
Kim Petras: That's amazing. To hear my songs at parties is really amazing. And I mean that's the one thing you can count on LGBTQ+ people, we throw the best fucking parties. And I'm just so happy to be a part of cult party culture. That's why I make music: I want to make people forget about their problems.
It’s a worthy cause! Final question: what do you envision your beauty aesthetic to be 10 years from now?
Kim Petras: Wow. I don’t know. Either face tape, wigs, and botox, or I’ll just be blessed with my DNA and look really snatched? Although, I’ll only be like 35 or 36 so I feel like I could still be snatched by then… hopefully.