Kiss & Kills
As Black Magazine Issue #21 hits the streets in New zealand this week we are going to publish some of the Black End features here on BLKonBLK, mainly because we are so happy with them. First up here is Natalia Kills, followed by Tyra Banks later today!
Interview: Grant Fell
Photos: Stephen Tilley
Creative director: Rachael Churchward
Fashion editor: Zeenat Wilkinson
Make-up: KieKie Stanners for M.A.C Cosmetics
Grant Fell: Your first foray into performance was in the field of acting and TV as Sima on All About Me. Around the time of your TV appearances you began writing songs, some of which were featured in films and TV shows – including Entourage much later in 2008 – was it this song writing process that started you down the path toward a musical performance career or were you musical as a child?
Natalia Kills: When I was a little girl I used to write on everything. Walls, tables, mirrors...I was always fascinated by the way words could change everything - you can make bad news sound like good news, you can make something sound tempting that was completely underwhelming, you can make something seem glamorous and desirable when it’s really a devastating mess. I always loved the emotional power words could harness and dictate.
You have a substantial resume as an actress, beyond All About Me; Casualty, Coronation Street, Blue Murder, Silent Witness and Love Kills are all fairly major TV series. Is acting something that you will continue to do? Can you have a parallel career here?
I don’t really think about it, so I’m not sure. I gave up acting as soon as I was old enough to realize I could be the one writing the script instead of saying someone else’s lines... I’m much better on this side of the pen!
Tell us about the song ‘Shopaholic’.
That song blew up big time on MySpace with over 2 million plays on the site after Perez Hilton championed it. What was it like to suddenly be famous over night – suddenly meeting people like Akon and Justin Timberlake? It’s funny because at the time I didn’t even own a computer... I had three demos, a MySpace page and a pay-as-you-go phone with no credit on it. I used to go to the internet cafe and check my page once a week when I had extra money. One day, I had half-a-million plays and fans, and a week later I was on a plane to LA. I was staying in 5-Star hotels and flying first class and couldn’t afford the bus ride to the airport! So absurd!
Have you ever met Perez Hilton?
Yes! The first time we went out together was really odd - he picked me up at my hotel in LA and we drove to Hollywood…and as we’re going up the escalator of an indoor parking garage, a man fell from the 6th floor and died right in front of us! It was tragic and we were screaming… definitely the most dramatic dinner date I’ve ever been on!
You moved to Los Angeles in 2008 and then entered a period that, like your well-documented troubled childhood, would prove pivotal on your life path and also provide fodder for future songs and music. Describe those two years in your life…
I had kind of ruined my life back in London… I’d quit all my acting jobs, trying to be a writer and had given all my money to my parents when my Dad got out of jail… and I had a terrible boyfriend that treated me like shit until one day I snapped and tried to set fire to our house. I was broke and had been homeless for a while, crashing on couches and floors and then finally thought, “Fuck it!” and put some demos on MySpace and eventually managed to get out to Hollywood. I just needed to escape my nightmare and live the dream for once, so I had a few dollars and a suitcase with a broken wheel and I lived in a run-down motel for a year or so… right until I got a record deal. I would go to fancy shops on Rodeo Drive and try on everything - I wanted just to kill time and have fun, and at night I went to parties and met people who let me use their studio and write songs.
You connected with will.i.am, signed to Interscope and then moved under the Cherry Tree umbrella. How pivotal has Will been in helping to shape the persona we now know as Natalia Kills?
I made my albums with incredible producers like Jeff Bhasker, Emile Haynie, Fernando Garibay and Cherry Boom Boom…I feel like Jeff has been the most influential contributor to my sound since he made the whole “Trouble” album and he really knows me. I used to write songs with Will for his DJ projects, but as soon as I signed to Interscope I wanted to write my own record… I’ve only seen him a handful of times since then, but he took me to Europe and let me and my band open for his last Black Eyed Peas stadium tour. He’s really fun and full of odd ideas...I’m glad he gave me an opportunity and lets me get on with my own sound too.
You have now released two albums, Perfectionist in 2011 and Trouble in 2013. How do the two albums differ and do you prefer one over the other?
‘Trouble’ is the shit… it’s so wild and beautiful! I love that record more than anything in the world! It’s more like a confession…because I realized that I can’t be fixed or saved… so instead of trying to escape or apologize I’m just exposing things that’ve made me who I am and make my worst moments into what could feel like my best. Trouble is a collage of bad girl anthems describing all the fucked up shit I ever did, sung through high impact hip hop drums and grunge guitars in Jeff Bhasker’s heavy production style. It’s a defiant and neurotic ‘feel-bad’ feel-good album, and even though I’m singing about the tough times, it somehow makes me feel like it was never that bad at all…
The song Saturday Night, and indeed the video directed by your long time collaborator Guillaume Doubet is quite personal for you, and depicts numerous elements from your life. Was it cathartic for you writing this, and indeed releasing it? Time to move on?
‘Saturday Night’ is the soundtrack to my life. It’s strange because music and movies always portray being young as these invincible years of freedom, opportunity and love, but when I was a teenager I didn’t have any of that! I wanted to make a song and a video that showed how fucked up youth can be - having no control, money or guidance. The video is literal - the actors playing my parents look just like my real family, the set designer built the ‘home’ from photos of the house I grew up in, and those videos of me at the end (the pageant, the clowns, fireworks and Christmas dinner) are all real home movies. When I was really young my parents were crazy rich, by the time I was 12 the cops had taken everything, my father was in jail and we were broke. I moved out when I was almost 15 and spent my whole teenage years with no money, fighting with my boyfriend, joining a cult and getting in trouble with the police…I kept telling myself: ‘I’m going to be fine…” even when I didn’t even believe it. But every time it felt like the world had ended and time had stopped, it seemed to just keep going, no matter what. Time has no consideration for sadness…time doesn’t care about regrets or impatience…days and weeks go by and eventually you realize its all part of a cycle, its all just another Saturday night.
That’s quite poetic and quietly awesome Natalia! Let’s talk fashion. You always look fantastic, have you always been fashion conscious?
I’m quite certain I’m always off trend. I don’t feel very ‘fashionable’… I just dress how I think every woman should - expensive, dangerous and slutty… if you follow those three things you can’t go wrong really!
We know that you love Prabal Gurung and that feeling is mutual. Ditto, Jeremy Scott. Tell us about your relationship with these designers...
I love their collections, and their fashion shows are the most fun ever! I think anyone who makes clothing designed only for whores, mannequins and the aristocracy are really on to something… I’m in.
How would you describe your own personal look?
I look like a black-and-gold Marabou sex doll from an amateur schoolgirl dominatrix fetish film.
We were so very impressed when you were here in New Zealand. Every label in town was trying to get something on you in the hope you would tweet or Instagram the gift to your several hundred thousand followers. You were very gracious in doing so and thanking every single one of them…
I adore NZ and the fashion scene is so far ahead it’s shocking! My favorite thing I came home with was this incredible black leather Amalia O'Neill corset/bustier with plastic power tits. I’ve worn it for my last 3 shows!
New Zealand really has been good to you: Saturday Night charted here for a while last year, you were much loved during your short trip by all-and-sundry and then there is one of our own, Willy Moon…any plans for live performances down under, perhaps with Willy?
We just moved in together in New York! It’s divine! I would tell you how much fun we’ve been having, but then you’d figure out how little work we’re getting done…
What is next for Natalia Kills? Is there a new album in the pipeline?
We have been recording a few songs…it’s much more aggressive and sarcastic about true love and what hurt means. I want to make a record about all the awful things we do when we’re bored.
You have a rare day off. Describe a perfect day off for you.
I’d like them to close down Bergdorf Goodman for the day and let me take everything I want! That would be perfect.
What was your last dream about?
I was late for dinner with Mia Wallace, Brandy Alexander and Amy Blue who were all my friends that had agreed to start a band with me. The bed was a train moving through all these different cities and rooms. I was dressed as a bride in a satin nightgown from the 70s and I kept clinging on to Willy Moon thinking we were going to fall off, or the wind would blow my veil off and I’d lose it. The train conductor had no face as if all his skin had melted off as he became a skeleton, and he stood at the foot of the bed yelling out what the next stop would be, but the train never, ever, stopped. Eventually, we crashed through the ceiling into a velvet room where my dog Bambi could talk. She explained we were in a sex club with really strict rules and needed to obey the Mistress in ordered to be freed and go home. The mistress was Larry King dressed as a furry with a whip and PVC doctors bag of tools... then Madonna texted me and I had to go meet her at the studio straight from there, but I was still wearing the satin nightgown and the ripped veil, a ball gag from the sex club and the conducter’s hat with the skeletons hair still hanging out of it. She liked the outfit and asked me if she could borrow it for a photoshoot...
Ah the old “Larry King dressed as a furry with a whip” dream...so, you are holding a dinner party for some very special guests with no concern for cost or location. Who would you invite and what would be on the menu?
I would invite Mae West, Bill Clinton, Ted Bundy, Beth Ditto, Sharon Tate, Anna Nicole Smith, Phil Spector, Belle Knox and Chaz Bono. And we’d all have to be naked eating ice cream under a black light.
I think that is the best answer we’ve ever had to that question...Who, or what are you inspired by more than anything or anyone else?
Most of the boy’s I’ve dated and the drugs I’ve taken have each given me a years worth of love and hate to write about...
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?
I would make all heels feel comfortable no matter how high or pointy they are.
Favourites: What are you listening to at the moment? Right this second I’m listening to “Stupid Girl” by Garbage. What are you reading? The lyrics I wrote with Madonna for her new album...Your current favourite TV series? Mad Men. Film? I just saw “Only Lovers Left Alive”... it was very funny! I love Tilda Swinton... Artist? My boyfriend said I look like a Picasso. Cosmetics brand? YSL have beautiful lipsticks with incredible cases. I hate things that make you look beautiful but come in awful packaging, so these really work for me... Hair brand? No girl can live without Elnette. Nail brand? Julep have beautiful sparkles! Footwear brand? I adore the Agent Provocateur “Loleata” Marabou bedroom slippers! They’re not just for the bedroom, I wear them everywhere! City in the world? Paris... or wherever my boyfriend is... Jeweller? I like jewellery from Estate auctions.
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