Interview with…Natalia Kills!
How can you become the best at anything? The way you do it is you just try to kill it every time.
Natalia Kills is a very new kind of radio killer.
Starting with the release of her murderously good buzz single at the end of 2009, “Zombie,” the soon-to-be superstar began capturing new fans left and right with her noir-gone-glam style and urban-meets-dance sound, immediately awarding herself the title of “Most Anticipated of 2010” here at MuuMuse.
Now, with her self-produced, self-directed “Love, Kills XX” web series (check out the fifth installment, which just premiered yesterday), the singer has prepared herself a unique platform to introduce herself, her creative vision, and her music to the world.
As one of Cherrytree/Interscope’s newest artists on the brink of debut (with an album to be released in the fall), Kills was nice enough to chat with me on the phone last Friday about her background, as well as providing plenty of hints for what’s to come.
Check out our full conversation below to learn more about Natalia’s influences, ambitions, and plans for world domination. And yes–she’s deadly serious about all of it.
Hey Natalia! How are you?
Iâ€™m fine, thank you. How are you?
Iâ€™m doing great. Youâ€™ll have to forgive me. Iâ€™m getting over a bit of a cold, so my throatâ€™s kind of scratchy today.
No problem! I hope you feel better.
Oh, thank you! So, you are, of course a very new artist under Cherrytree. I was wondering how you ended up under the label?
Actually, it was quite a while ago. Basically, Iâ€™m from England and I made a demo and put it on the internet in 2008. Perez Hilton blogged about me and I got all of this buzz. One of my songs got two million plays in a very short period of time. So, I went to L.A. and had kind of been going for a while hoping to make some contacts and follow my dreams–you know how a lot of people go to Hollywood to make it and such. So I went back to L.A. and I met a lot of people, but it wasnâ€™t that hard to know if you go with Will [Will.I.Am].
I met with labels and a lot of other producers and artists: Timbaland, Justin Timberlake and just many people that had a really creative connection with Will. He signed me to Interscope. He has a label at Interscope and one of the labels I had actually met with that I was very excited about was Cherrytree at Interscope. So, once I signed with Will to Interscope, he has a really good relationship with Martin Kieszenbaum, who runs Cherrytree and is the head A&R of Interscope International and we kind of navigated my project back to there while Will was on the road with the Black Eyed Peas
Would you say that the image or narrative that youâ€™re projecting right now is something that you started out with when you were searching for labels–the whole persona of Natalia Kills?
No, itâ€™s definitely been an evolution. Itâ€™s definitely been a growing process. When I made my demo, it was actually called Wommanequin. It was under my real name, Natalia Cappuccini, and the whole thing was about searching for perfection. Being a girl; a mannequin being the perfect female form as a woman. So, I definitely started with the idea. My album is called Perfectionist. Itâ€™s literally the next step up from that demo; that idea. So, that idea hasnâ€™t changed.
Developing who I am and making it more obvious was the first thing I was really encouraged to do once I was signed. You know, â€œBlack Eyed Peasâ€–it says something. Itâ€™s a group. There are groups out there like The Knife, and certain words are very easy and invoke a certain feeling so that fans immediately identify. I thought to myself, in this quest for perfection and this great life and everything, â€œWhat do I want to do? How can you become the best at anything?” The way you do it is you just try to kill it every time. So, the label said â€œMaybe thatâ€™s what your name should be,â€ and I stuck with Natalia Kills.
I can see all of the influence that channel into the image because you have a sort of Tumblr style website with different pictures and quotes that inspire you and thereâ€™s of course the “Love, Kills XX” series. What sort of influences or references inspired the series?
Iâ€™ll give you a really small background of how I got into the film making. Basically, before I decided to do music, when I was quite a bit younger I was 14, I was doing a lot of acting. And you know a lot of creative people slide in and out of music, acting, and theater because itâ€™s all a kind of system of being an expressionist. You have to express. You have to perform. So, I was doing that before I realized that music was what I really wanted to pursue.
I was on all of these sets learning lines and seeing how it was really done for years, and I have learned to a certain degree how it works. You write the script, you write the characters, you find locations, you find a director, you find a producer. and you make the show. So, when I was actually signed to the label they said â€œLook, I know youâ€™re into all of this [Alfred] Hitchcock, [Stanley] Kubrick sort of stuff. But how are you going to translate that to people? What you need to do is be on the internet and make a diary or talk to the camera while going to the studio.â€ And I said that was silly to me, because I didnâ€™t really want to be talking to the camera like â€œYo, guys! Iâ€™m in the studio!â€ Thatâ€™s not who I am. Thatâ€™s not what I like.
So, I said â€œWell, how about the fans really get to know me through film?â€ They get to see me being me, but in almost imaginary and extraordinary situations. Iâ€™m writing, producing and co-directing it, so really, theyâ€™re getting a full-on take of my imagination, and thatâ€™s how they get to know me. Not just by seeing this Natalia Kills running around being a femme fatale maniac. They also get to see exactly what I think about, exactly how I feel by me writing all of this and actually directing it and making it real.
So, thatâ€™s kind of the general idea of the show, and weâ€™re going to have twenty episodes. Iâ€™ve done most of them, but obviously you have to wait until they come out once a week. Iâ€™m very glad people are responding to it because it basically brings a very direct and visual impact to show people what itâ€™s about instead of just pictures and interviews or whatever. Itâ€™s a different level of entertainment.
Are they leading up to something? Will there be a single or album release when theyâ€™re all said and done?
Yes, absolutely. We finished the album and itâ€™s been wonderful. The single will hopefully be going on air in the summer and building from there.
Oh, good! Because you released two buzz singles..
Well, itâ€™s funny. They were really buzz singles. â€œZombieâ€ was the first song I even recorded for the record, but I do have a first official uptempo–could be played radio; could be played pop single.
Iâ€™m so creative that itâ€™s hard for me to hold back and make people wait for so long, so it was really good that the label allowed me to officially leak a couple of the songs so that people could get a really good feeling. The first single wonâ€™t be either of those songs, but definitely in the same vein. Same sound, same style.
You also gave a little preview in the latest series of another song..
Yep, and that will continue to happen, actually. That will keep happening, but if it was up to me, I would want my music to go out into the world and want people to hear it. I would be playing full versions, but I definitely have to leave a bit of mystery so when people get the album there are surprises on it.
Who have you worked with on the album besides Will.I.Am?
Iâ€™ve worked with really incredible producers. Iâ€™ve worked with Jeff Bhasker. Heâ€™s done work on Kanye Westâ€™s last two records and the one thatâ€™s coming up. Alicia Keys and Jay-Zâ€™s albums as well. He did â€œZombieâ€ and is very rhythmic, dark and creative. Itâ€™s a lot of fun.
Iâ€™ve worked with Akon, who is a wonderful person. I was kind of wondering how heâ€™d be before I met him because I had no idea, and you see people all over TV and they have a certain sound of music. But, when I met him he was very intelligent and creative. I totally understand why he and Will.I.Am. have achieved the level of success that they have because theyâ€™re really, really, really good.
Iâ€™ve worked with Fernando Garibay and Cherry Cherry Boom Boom [Martin Kierszenbaum] who have worked with Lady Gaga on her new album that no one has heard. Sheâ€™s working on it right now.
Iâ€™ve worked with Ron Feemster who worked with Dr. Dre for five years and Michael Jackson for four years. He was Michael Jacksonâ€™s protÃ©gÃ©. Michaelâ€™s new album that no one has heard (and probably wonâ€™t hear now) was all done with Ron. He was looking for a new artist and project after the passing of Michael, and it was really wonderful to work with him. Heâ€™s phenomenal, and I believe he could probably change the world with his music. Heâ€™s excellent.
Thatâ€™s a great mix of producers. It sounds like some different sounds all in one..
Yeah, but you know what? The best thing was I got into the studio with Jeff and he started playing away. I do this thing were I choose all the sounds, so weâ€™re kind of musically creating the actual music together. Once we found the sound and all of the different synths and rhythms and stuff, I went to all of the other producers and said â€œThe songs we make have to marry this. They have to out-do it, they have to undo it, they have to re-do it, they have to all be absolutely consistent.â€
So, even though Iâ€™ve worked with a couple of people on my album, all of those sounds and all of those ideas are absolutely consistent and flowing one after the other. It doesnâ€™t sound like a patchwork of different sound, one in pop, one in hip-hop, one is urban or whatever. It actually sounds almost like the same person might have done every song, but just taking it to another level.
Do you know at all when it will be released?
Yes. In fall, my album will be released while weâ€™re still growing the first single over the summer. Iâ€™m very excited for my album to come out. I am.
A lot of my readers were tweeting â€œWhen does new music come out?! Finally!â€
Yeah, I know! I really want everyone to hear the music! At least the through the webisodes I can kind of leak little snippets so that people are already familiar.
Final question: A lot of artists in the industry are being compared to the same artist: Lady Gaga. What would you say to critics who may try to compare you to Gaga?
I would say thank you for comparing me to someone creative and talented, and not somebody who relies on other people or other sides of the industry to manufacture who they are. Thatâ€™s what I would say. Thank you very much.
Thank you! Feel better!
Special thanks to RJ Kozain for transcription assistance.