Artist Spotlight: An Interview with Kerli

Style: "DF_More"

For those of you that don’t know, Kerli is an Estonian singer/song writer. In 2006, she was signed to the Island Def Jam Music group by non other than L.A. Reid and by 2008, she released her debut album, Love is Dead, a more serious album that explored a darker side of Kerli.

She appeared in Almost Alice, a compilation album of various artists’ music inspired by Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland.  Both her songs Tea Party and Strange with Tokio Hotel were featured on the album

Kerli ventured into the Dance music word soon enough, She released the free download Army of Love which spent 11 weeks on Billboard’s Hot Dance Club songs before peaking at number 1. Her next released Zero Gravity, also spent eight weeks on Billboard’s chart.

Her second studio album Utopia featuring the hit single The Lucky Ones and Glow in the Dark featuring tyDi is due to be released in the spring. I had a chance to catch up with Kerli and hear a little bit more about what she has planned in 2013. So, for our followers that do not know much about you, how would you describe yourself as an artist?

Kerli: Well I’ve actually gone through many phases because I’ve been making music for a long time. Right now… I’m just SUPER into really good energy and positive vibes. And you know, I have been putting out dance music for a couple of years. And I have an EP coming out in March, it is called Utopia, it’s kind of a mix of just different genres of dance. I like to mix heavier beats with more ethereal instruments, and like at the core of it all, I like to have a good song that you can strip down and play on the piano, and that has good lyrics and a good melody, those are the most important things. And I really hope that when people listen to the album, they just feel that when it’s stripped down, that these are just REAL songs.

MMIBTY: Your first single from the EP is The Lucky Ones… what did you use as inspirations for that song and what made you decide to make it your first single from the EP.

K: The Lucky Ones is actually one of the most personal songs that I have ever done and it was inspired by a really intense story that I witnessed last year. One of my best friends got diagnosed with cancer, it’s actually a long story but ill try to shorten it. He was diagnosed with cancer and he got surgery, but after, the doctors discovered that he still had these masses in his body and needed chemotherapy… He was getting his first day of chemo and was sitting there in a chair with all these other cancer patients receiving the treatments and the doctors took another look, they some how got a hold of these old x-rays that he had done as a teenager because he broke his hip a couple of times… and they noticed that these masses that they were doing chemo for were actually there from before, when he was a teenager. So these masses were actually benign and he was born with them… and next thing you know, he is disconnected from the IV and was sent home. So he went home and he still had the bracelet and everything saying that he was going to need at least 3 months of chemotherapy and he ended up not even needing it. He is a fashion photography and a musician and they told him that he was going to lose his hearing and his sensitivity and he was already donating sperms because he thought he wasn’t going to be able to have kids, and it was just so intense and all of his friends were just trying to be so strong for him to the point where he thought that we just didn’t really care because we were all like, “Ooo this little cancer, we can beat it.”  But, as soon as he wasn’t around we would cry our eyes out, but you it was just a miracle that everything was ok, they were just going to monitor him to make sure the cancer didn’t come back. Who really just walks out of a chemo room like that? It just doesn’t happen. I’ve always wanted to believe in miracles and that day, that was the day I really witnessed one.

MMIBTY: The video for The Lucky Ones seems like a big budget music video, how did you feel about making that video considering that that video would be one of the first videos to showcase you to the American public in this up and coming EDM scene?

K: Actually it wasn’t a big budget video, haha,  I worked on it with two of my best friends, like I have been. If you look at my earlier videos, you see these crazy fantastical outfits, I actually hand make all of them and I spend like nights and weeks just sketching and making things and just trying to pull this crazy stuff together with like 200 bucks you know, Lucky Ones is really no exception, I just happen to have really talented friends and again I just have like long nights just sitting in a room in our Pajamas and like editing and being like, “Noooo its not there yet,” and going to sleep for like four hours and then waking up again because we are on a deadline. When you make art it’s not about how much money you have, it’s really about whether or not you have the eye for it. The camera, for example, isn’t as important as the light is. So if your working with someone who knows how to light things very well, you can make things look more expensive.

MMIBTY: Your EP is due out in the spring, what can your listeners expect from the EP?

K: Well the most important thing for me is the message, so I try to make it really positive, I try to make all the songs inspiring in a way. As for the sound, I don’t really think about it that much, you know? I’m in the studio and there are only a few people that I really love to work with and this album is going to come out as an EP but we did record a whole album and the second half will come out sometime in the future, but I found these two kids in Sweden called “78” and they aren’t huge producers or anything but they are just these two kids that I just really connected with and they came to LA and we worked for a week. And I usually come into the studio with like half the song already done, but these guys are just amazing with sound and energy, which is the most important to me, and it was like a party in the studio and we even had people come over to party. But these kids, we just did what felt right, we didn’t think that there should be any one style of sound. There are plenty of different styles on the EP including some acoustic stuff, there is a really cool 2-step track I did with Switch, there is a tiny bit of Dubstep, there is some House, some Trance, some throw back 90’s Dance because you know in Europe dance was really popular since I was like 5 years old so its interesting to see how it a new thing in America.

MMIBTY: House music started in Chicago and just grew and left the states to go to Europe, and we didn’t really see it again until the 90’s underground rave scene happened …

K: Oh my god, that would have been so exciting to see, supposedly L.A. had one of the craziest rave scene in the 90’s, people would just like go to the desert and it was just super underground, it was very word of mouth and everyone would just be super creative. I feel like now when I go to raves, I wish it was more outrageous, I wish people would challenge the fashion and get more fantastical, I’m tired of seeing the same teeny boppers in the their Hot Topic tutu’s, I just really wished people would be more expressive with the style. When I get ideas for visuals, I do take a lot of inspiration from the rave culture but I try to turn it on it’s head

MMIBTY: So how was it working with a big name like Switch, and if you could work with anyone, who would you choose?

K: I would love to work William Orbit, and I’d also love to work with Aphex Twin, he is one of my favorite artist of all time. But Switch is so cool, cool guy with no ego, we were just working out of his house, his brother works with him, Danny, who we did the top line and the lyrics with, and Switch just does not give a fuck, haha. So it’s refreshing to work with him. He doesn’t care about having his stuff all over the radio, he just wants to do cool things, I really respect him a lot.

MMIBTY: So what big plans do you have coming up this year?

K: You know what, I don’t know, I have the EP coming out, I’m shooting 2 new music videos in February, I’m doing a couple of show in Brazil,  I usually don’t know what I’m doing until like a month before it happens but I don’t know. I’m super SUPER excited to release my second single off the EP, its called Can’t Control the Kids and to me, it’s the coolest track off the EP, I just have all these visions for video and I’m just excited to get home and start making all the outfits, I already started an eBay list, haha, so many packages just being shipped, haha.

MMIBTY: Why is this your favorite track off the EP?

K: This track is just really REALLY bad ass, it has a little bit of a half time in it, but its not like a bro-y Dubstep, because the guys that I worked with on this song are mostly pop producers and I like adding other influences. Some things are trends and not a song you can listen to a year later. It’s a different more unique sound… it’s almost like when Dubstep was that fresh new sound in the U.S. and Skrillex was also just really fresh with that sound and then everyone just started to rip him off, and then the sound just got a little bit funny, like when you heard the “whomp, whomp, whomp,” it was just a little funny.

MMIBTY: Where do you feel that EDM is going?

K: I think that things are just always happening. And Dance has been around for a really long time, realistically even in the 70’s because there was Disco. Dance has been huge in Europe since I was little, and just the fact that it’s becoming mainstream, doesn’t mean it’s going to die out because it’s the thing of the moment. It’s always been around, there will always be that culture.  To me Dance its more of a spiritual type of thing, for example I played at identity Festival last summer, it was so fun performing, it was so fun. It was like being at a rave and you just give a little bit of love and all the kids give it back to you 1000 times more, I like just the energy, to me its just really spiritual and my last track, Zero Gravity, it’s about air spirits. And the beat, we have had the beat for a long time, dating back to even Africa, people had the beat to pray for rain or to hope that a member of their tribe had better health, so I just love writing on songs with such a simple beat and when I write on Dance tracks I try to do it from spiritual almost prayer like state. And Zero Gravity is written about air spirits, sylphs, and in the video, it is all about the elements and air, it’s almost like a modern day prayer. I tried to make it sound like a love song so people can put whatever take they want on it, but I just like to go super in on the tracks like that.

So, you heard it from the Moon Child herself. Make sure you check out her new EP, Utopia, coming out in the Spring. Download her single and remixes to her single The Lucky Ones on Beatport, and be on the look out for her next single, Cant Control the Kids due out in March.

Kerli Follow | Twitter | YouTube

*** special thanks to Kerli and Alexandra Greenberg