Kerli Talks About Her New Album and Overcoming Struggle With Creativity -- Exclusive Video
By PopEater Staff Posted Dec 1st 2010 05:10PM
In her first video, the Estonia native talks about her modest upbringing, and how she created her own idealized life. "While growing up in a communist mindset where nobody could be creative or artistic or, God forbid, different in any way, I really felt a strong need to escape the gray surroundings, so I actually started creating a fantasy world for myself since I was very little," she says.
Coming from a poor family, her mother made all of her clothes, and it was from her that Kerli learned to make something out of nothing. "I always show my fans a lot of behind the scenes, too, because I don't want them to think that something creative is exclusive to having a lot of money," she adds. "I think you can make everything out of whatever. Pretty much, if you can imagine it in your head, you can absolutely create it."
Kerli's forthcoming album is due in 2011, and she says her strife has been her biggest muse. "Struggle can be the greatest lesson and the greatest source of inspiration," she explains. "My new album is about to come out next year and it's all about overcoming the struggle."
Watch Kerli's first webisode and read and exclusive Q&A with the singer below. Want to learn more about Kerli and the I.L.U movement? Visit iamamoonchild.net.
What can we expect from your upcoming album?
People who are familiar with my previous work know that my last album was kind of introverted and dark with a bit of a light at the end of the tunnel. With this new album, I've sped through the tunnel and I'm fully in the light now. A lot of the new music is about overcoming challenges and the rewards that come from that; about not giving up and turning those obstacles into a source of power. I've made it very magical and angelic with a lot of bright colors and fantastical themes to express this idea.
In general, the album is very focused. I picked a few things I was fascinated with and tried to create a total soundscape, a total vision from the beginning to the end. I had some amazing people working with me although I'm really proud of the fact that I wrote a lot of the songs completely on my own, and I actually produced quite a bit, too, so that to me is personally a major step forward.
You were featured on the soundtrack for Tim Burton's 'Alice in Wonderland.' Are you a fan of his? How did you get involved with the project?
Being a part of Tim's madness has been a dream of mine forever. When I saw him at the 2008 Scream Awards, I had just heard that he was doing the "Alice" so I ran up to him and told him I wanted to play Alice. He laughed kindly and we chatted for a minute. Then he hit me up to do some songs. That's a huge honor.
When and how did you know that you wanted to be a singer? What music were you listening to when you were younger?
I always knew what I was going to do in life. At first, there was very little art around because the borders were still closed and so I could only focus on classical music and took up classical piano. It wasn't until after the fall of the Soviet Union, when we had more access to the outside world, that I became a music maniac. When I was 10, for example, we started getting some German music channels like VIVA, and I would spend countless hours in front of a TV, keeping a little notebook where I wrote down all the names of the bands I saw.
My first crazy fan experience was with the Spice Girls. Like so many other girls out there, my friends and I created our own Spice Girls. We did our own versions of the songs a cappella and I even had the Union Flag dress that Geri made famous.
My first real "oh my god" moment with music happened when I traveled to post-Soviet Russia when I was 14. I had 10 bucks to spend and illegal CDs cost a dollar a piece. I had already bought nine and needed one more, so I told the guy to give me something good. He gave me the best of Bjork. I'd never heard of her before so I was like, "ok." But when I went home and put it on; it changed my life forever. It was just so otherworldly, so beautiful and so powerful, I felt music like I'd never felt it before. Suddenly, it wasn't all about being a pop star who's on TV with cool outfits -- it became about making something that truly touches someone's life.
What other current musicians do you admire?
I'm a huge fan of female artists who can produce their own music like Bjork and Imogen Heap. One of my goals is to become a killer producer, and I think it's so empowering to watch women do everything by themselves. When Imogen wins a Grammy for engineering, that's true female empowerment to me.
I usually listen to more alternative stuff like Sigur Ros, Radiohead, Placebo, Mew, etc., but I love people in POP too. I'm a huge fan of Eminem, I think he's a genius. I really like Taylor Swift's lyrics, and I like how conceptually focused the new Katy Perry and Lady Gaga material has been. Pretty much, I admire anyone who's made their voice heard in any way because I know how hard it is.
I'm also equally interested in the producers because there are very few artists in pop that have been able to create a sound without a huge producer behind their project. It's fascinating to me. I just like to watch where the hooks are going, what kind of instruments are used, what tempo and what chords are people drawn to. It's like science. I got to work with great new producing talent like the Stereotypes, Jean Baptiste and the team of Josh Abraham and Oligee on my new album and that has been very inspiring.
You are originally from Estonia. Was the transition to America difficult for you?
The first couple of years were very hard. I moved here on my 20th birthday with two huge suitcases with some candleholders and a blanket in them, and had a whole different idea of what it was going to be like. I'm from a very small place, so it took me awhile to adjust to things like crazy traffic and urban noises. I found it especially challenging to be in LA, where everything seems possible, yet you sometimes don't know where to begin or who to trust -- it's so different from where I came from. Sometimes I felt lost and alone during that time but then I remembered why I came here, and I was able to refocus and draw on all the great energy and color and dimensions in the U.S.
Your songwriting tends to be on the darker side. What inspires your writing?
It used to be on the darker side, but it's not anymore. I used to write from my perspective only, but now I'm fascinated with putting myself in other peoples bodies ... trying to walk around with my eyes open and watch what people are feeling and thinking -- what is the current frequency, how can I touch all of them? After I started getting outside my head, songwriting became so much more fun. I'm always carrying a notebook with me. I have these periods that have different names. First, I gather, then I lock myself in my home studio. There I meditate on it, remove myself from the world and write the song that needs to be written. Sometimes I write five songs to one concept until I feel like I've nailed it.
You are interested in alternative healing methods, like crystals and burning sage. Can you explain why you feel that these methods are so beneficial to one's health?
I have studied alternative medicine and healing since I was a teenager. It's a huge part of my music too and I pay close attention to the frequencies, colors and symbols that I use in my music. I like mixing pop with some magical stuff that I will talk about more in the interviews to come.
You have said that "We are all Moon Children." Can you explain what being a "moon child" means to you?
A Moon Child is someone who believes in Integrity, Love and Unity. I launched this community about four years ago and we've been growing and evolving together since then. We keep in touch online, we discuss everything and anything and try to help each other in any way we can.
We mark ourselves with 3 dots so we always remember these 3 important things:
Integrity - when one is on their path and follows their own truth, that's when one can truly be happy.
Love - when one feels fulfilled, one can feel true love. Love starts from loving yourself. Once you love yourself, you can truly love others.
Unity - Remembering that we are a whole and each piece of the puzzle is important and equal.
I stress a lot that being a Moon Child isn't about being perfect. It's about being the best that you can be and taking full responsibility for your reality. Understanding that your thoughts, words and actions are creating your life. We're human, we make mistakes, but we're trying to learn as we go, roll with the punches and create a positive world around us.
You have a sexy gothic aesthetic. Where does your fashion sense come from?
To me, fashion isn't just about dressing up, it's like an extension of who I am. I come from a more restrictive culture and you can see that in the way I dress, in the goth aesthetic. I was always longing for sweet things, though, so that is why I am also attracted to and try to incorporate the innocent and child-like, the 'Lolita' element. I like to put extremes together -- something really beautiful or innocent combined with something really dark.
If you could collaborate with any artist, living or dead, who would it be and why?
Imogen Heap would be high on my list for the reasons I mentioned earlier, as well as Thom Yorke because he's truly a creative genius. It would also be amazing to work with Eminem because he's another crazy talent that I respect so much. Among dead artists, I would love to have a glass of wine with Mozart, and get in the studio with Kurt Cobain.
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