Kerli Pursues the American Dream With Her Beautiful 'Army of Love'
By Contessa Gayles Posted Feb 24th 2011 03:00PM
Estonian electro-pop singer Kerli took a breather from appearances at New York Fashion Week shows and parties to talk to PopEater about the inspiration for her forthcoming album, her new single 'Army of Love' and how pursuing a career in music was her means of escaping small town life.
The otherwise pint-sized pop star was larger-than-life in 6-inch pink platform boots and a white dreaded wig. A bejeweled medical face mask worn as a hat, pink lashes and a stuffed animal handbag completed her DIY look. From her out-of-this-world image to the conceptualization of her music videos, 24-year-old Kerli says research and consciously seeking out inspiration drive her creative process.
Do you still live primarily in Estonia?
No, LA. I've been here for four years.
So, what brings you to New York?
Fashion week, fashion shows and parties. You know how when you hug in big cities, you always hug on the right side? When you hug on the left side and you hug really hard and tight you can feel each other's heartbeat. That's how humans should hug.
What was the biggest culture shock for you moving here?
Consumer culture. But it's funny -- there are really great people here in New York and LA. It takes a certain type. I create so much more than when I was in Estonia. Americans dare to dream, that's what I love about it.
Are you still influenced by Estonian culture at all?
Oh yeah, always. Now that I'm getting older, I'm realizing what an amazing culture we have. There is a lot of inspiration. We have really cool, old stories. My ancestors were pagan, really connected with nature.
Did you grow up listening to mostly Estonian music?
No, we didn't have too much music.
Then how did you get into it?
I don't know. At first it wasn't about art at all. You know when you're a little girl and you're like, "I don't want to live in this town"? Either you're going to be an actress or a singer. So when I was little I was like, "I have to get the f**k out of here," so I became a singer. Then later on it was like, "Oh, I really love music."
What artists influence you?
My biggest influence has been Björk. For this new album, I'm consciously looking for inspiration in things that I would never put on and listen to. I'm listening to a lot of '90s Euro-trash, like Aqua. My first single sounds like Aqua because I just felt like it was in the air, and it was coming next. I'm pulling from Enya and listening to a lot of healing music. I'm making a concept album about the future of society, so everything is like uber-themed. I wrote about what I feel is in the air and about what people feel and think, not so much like how I did my first album when I was just, "Oh, the inspiration will strike me." It was about me being in my own space and how I feel. Now, I've almost put myself aside and went outside and consciously looked for inspiration, like what are people feeling right now?
Are the fashion and the music a part of one creative process? Or do you make the music and then find the visual element to match it?
I don't know. I do what I feel. I like to make conceptual outfits. I like to study a lot, and I like to read a lot, and everything I do I research a lot. When I did 'Army of Love' I studied the second World War. Obviously, I don't have the funds right now to do everything I want to do, and the video would have looked different if I were able to use 3-D images.
Can you explain your song 'Army of Love'?
At first I wanted to name the album 'Weapons of Mass Creation,' and I started making the whole album very hard and army-themed, but 'The Army of Love,' when I wrote the song I saw the visual. I saw massive guns shooting beautiful stuff. I wanted to create a concept to explain that love and innocence actually are the most beautiful things. An army just sounds really violent and forceful, but we fight with love.
Have you given any thought to collaborating with any other artists?
Yes. I really want to do something with Emilie Autumn. She's a mad Goth chick and plays classical violin. She got kicked out of a conservatory because she dressed up all crazy. Her teachers said music is suppose to just be about music and you, yourself are suppose to be put aside when you play. And she didn't believe that, so I really love what she stands for.
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