NATALIA KILLS: Killin’ ‘Em Softly
Natalia Kills isn’t sure what state St. Paul is in, but she’s roaming those Minnesota streets while touring with Katy Perry. Her geography may be bad, but her music is damn good.
Words: Kathy Iandoli
The UK-raised current LA resident (soon to be a New Yorker) skipped the pond a short while ago to propel her success in the States. A former actress turned director and musician, Natalia Kills‘ debut album Perfectionist delivers unapologetic Pop that is neither candy-coated nor emo; rather it’s a perfect balance. She was taken under the wing of one Will.i.Am who helped her hone her sound, along with producer Jeff Bhasker (4, Watch the Throne, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy). With aesthetics as original as her sound, Natalia Kills is Pop you’ve never heard but always wanted.
We caught up with Miss Kills on her day off during the California Dreams Tour, where the media fanned out over Perry stealing Kills’ outfit for a show. That never actually happened, but it was Perry’s way of giving the UK siren snaps for her uniquely fabulous style.
You made the successful transition from TV/film to music. What was that like as far as differences are concerned?
The thing is, I really love directing. I learned to direct a while ago and really, really love it. I’ve co-directed my music videos, I directed that series Love Kills xx and I love it. What I can tell you is the difference from being an actress and being a musician is that it’s far more rewarding to write your own songs and be the creator rather than being the actress and act out someone else’s creation. It’s not enough for me. I was pretty naughty as an actress to be honest because I would try and change all the lines. I would want my character to wear cooler clothes, to look more rebellious, to be more defiant. I basically wanted to turn my characters into myself.
In your music, you bring a certain level of truth to Pop. It’s not all bubblegum and lollipops. Was that a conscious decision?
It’s literally just who I am. If you have a conversation with me, sometimes I’ll come out with things that are so politically incorrect or my ideas are so warped, but it’s literally how I think. So if I were to make a bunch of songs that rhyme nicely or were happy and about falling in love, it’s almost the opposite of who I am. To me, the only type of music that is undeniably good is honest music. If someone dies and I miss them and my heart is broken and I want to write a song like “Heaven” on my album, I have to literally say it like it is. I can’t sugarcoat it like “I miss you, but everything’s fine.” That’s bullshit. I actually feel destroyed. There’s a line in that song that says, “I’m jealous of the angels ‘cause they see you everyday / And I see you when I’m dreaming but it doesn’t feel the same.” That’s actually how I feel. I can’t put it any other way. I have another song called “Love Is a Suicide” and when I was writing it, everyone was like “What are you doing? Love is love, and if you feel something else then it’s not love.” I’m like, “No no no.” When you fall in love and give yourself to somebody that could possibly destroy you and hurt you so badly and you feel emotionally numb and emotionally dead, then you know you’ve allowed that. You were the one who committed that suicide. On another note, I feel like my lyrics are like, “Oh shit, I actually said that in a conversation or screamed that at a boyfriend once” kind of deep. I feel like Alanis Morissette used to do that or even Kate Bush. Like, if they felt psychotic they would sing it psychotically. I really respect that. My album The Perfectionist is the opposite of perfection. It’s not about being perfect or finding perfection. It’s knowing it doesn’t exist.
Did you always have a flair for fashion, even as a kid?
I don’t consider myself fashionable to be honest. I mean, I have always definitely dressed in a kind of more adventurous or out of the box way. I don’t like to follow fashion by whatever is on the rack or whatever is in a magazine. I definitely don’t like that mentality or believe in it at all. What I do like about fashion is that it’s so silly. Everyone takes it so very seriously. What are they wearing? Who designed it? How did it fit? Do they look thin or do they look pregnant? So that’s why when I made my video for my single “Free” I wanted to point out how ridiculous fashion is. Because everyone loves it, I love it. We all fall for it and we all take it so seriously.
Yeah but you dress pretty fly. You know how to put shit together.
Awww, thank you! I think it’s about having style. When you know yourself and you know how adventurous or how modest you want to be, then it comes from that. A lot of finding out how you fit in with fashion and style is about not having rather than what you can have. For so long I was so broke and I literally couldn’t afford to buy new clothes. Not having stuff forces you to go thrift shopping, vintage shopping, customize things, find new ways to wear what you have, steal your mom’s clothes, your friends’ clothes that they’re throwing out and find a way to make them look more chic. I think that not having stuff makes you find interesting ways to put it together when you finally get stuff.
Have you noticed any differences in the UK and US audiences while on tour?
Yeah I have, actually. I feel like people are much more receptive and definitely more excited for a show here in the US. Obviously I’m very biased – I love the UK – but the great thing about America is that people are definitely enthusiastic. Their energy level – no one is shy or ashamed of screaming or jumping up and down. It’s such a lovely and warm welcome that I really enjoy. In the UK it’s great, but we do have a culture that is very reserved. You just have to get used to that and know that people are having a good time even if they’re not wetting their pants and trying to get into the backstage area.
So who does the best British accent: Madonna, Johnny Depp or Nicki Minaj?
I would definitely say Johnny Depp because it’s a real British accent. I’m not gonna lie…for quite a long time I thought he was English, then I was like “Oh shit. Well, I would still do you.” So there you go. Madonna’s is not so bad either. Nicki Minaj – her accent is spot on if she was a chimney sweep[er] in 18th Century England. Her accent is actually perfect. The only thing is it’s such a hyperbole because it’s so over the top and not a lot of people sound like that anymore. I’ll still give her points. It’s a close tie between Madonna and Nicki I would say for second place.