Pop has always crowned a new reigning princess at the beginning of each decade: Madonna, the Spice Girls, Britney Spears and Lady Gaga, respectively. As 2020 approaches and we open a new chapter in pop music, no voice in the industry seems as meritorious as German-born singer Kim Petras.
Although Petras’ music career spans over a decade, 2018 seemed to solidify her stardom, a year comprising of a critically-acclaimed EP release, several charting singles and even a collaboration with EDM chart topper Cheat Codes.
“Last year changed me as a person,” Petras said in an interview with WSN. “I’m a different person in many ways [since] … I’ve been playing little tiny gigs in the U.S. for years and nobody knew who the f-ck I was. Last year was amazing for me on a career level, but mostly I just go from touring to the studio.”
After bursting onto the pop charts in early 2018 with the self-proclaimed sugar baby anthem “I Don’t Want It At All,” Petras steadily released bubblegum pop singles throughout the year. With the release of her latest project, the 26-year old starlet seems to be taking a different direction.
Following the release of weekly singles, Petras announced via Twitter on June 13 that her newest project – titled Clarity – will be a compilation of her eight recently released tracks with the addition of four new songs, “Meet The Parents”, “Another One”, “Shinin” and “Icy”. While maintaining catchy pop hooks and vibrant leads, Petras channels a more personal sound with Clarity – the released tracks thus far explore beyond the reaches of the traditional pop realm, with Petras dipping her toes in R&B, trap and industrial EDM.
“I think these [new] songs are more inspired by how I feel and what I feel like I’m proud of,” Petras said. “It’s inspired by a breakup that kind of started everything.”
While she keeps her personal life relatively private, the more vulnerable lyrics on “Clarity” give fans a deeper look into the mind of the pop singer.
“This era started when I was on tour with Troye Sivan, I wrote ‘All I Do Is Cry’ on that tour, and that was the first song that I recorded when I was back in the studio after being on the road for a pretty long time. It felt really special and therapeutic. It’s a bunch of new influences.”
Petras made a point to highlight her sharp focus on the music, saying she knows exactly where she wants to be: the studio. That isn’t surprising given her notoriously ceaseless flow of singles in 2018 and 2019, which saw the release of five and 11 single tracks respectively.
“It’s mostly me back-to-back making sure I make music,” she said, explaining that the spotlight doesn’t really faze her due to her hectic schedule. “That’s where I want to be – being on the road and in the studio. It doesn’t feel like I’m standing in the spotlight.”
Petras cites her new influences as the music of Kanye West, Rhianna and Beyonce, as well as big ‘80s stadium anthems by the likes of Aerosmith. Going a “little more emo” and guitar-heavy for this era felt really right, according to Petras, as well as taking a more personal approach to writing lyrics. (She also added that she wants to make a Nile Rogers-inspired, Earth Wind and Fire-type record, just because “I always really loved funk”).
“I wanted to add that side to my discography because everything sounds so shiny,” she said. “I will always have a bubblegum pop side, but I don’t want to repeat myself.”
Before the release of her debut album, Petras already sold out her first headline shows in New York City, Los Angeles, Sydney, and Melbourne, as well as Pride Island NYC. She claims that some songs “hit different” in different cities and is interested in seeing how each of the new tracks play out around the world.
“I still get nervous before a show,” she admitted. “But it’s the best feeling. Nothing feels better for me than being onstage; I’m like this super-version of myself.”
While retaining the bubbly lyricism of pop’s past, Petras’ production treads the line of “future pop”, even drawing comparisons to PC Music, a British collective known for their surreal and exaggerated take on pop music. Her image is caked in sugar, spice and everything nice, yet the artist maintains a carefree attitude. She is an independent artist (signed to her own BunHead label) yet manages to regularly climb to the top of iTunes, Billboard and streaming charts.
In other words, Kim Petras finally bridges the gap between seemingly “inaccessible” pop music and the mainstream charts. In a post-Internet age inundated with niche genres and taste wars, the next in pop royalty must satisfy the artistic niche while staying relevant to the masses.
“I’m a little selfish,” Kim laughed. “I just want to make the music that I want to hear. I just do whatever inspires me and whatever I want to listen to in the moment.”
Kim Petras will be performing at Pride Island NYC on June 29. For tickets and information, click here.
Email Nicole Rosenthal at [email protected].