Kerli Dishes on Her New Music, Fashion and Why She Is Nothing Like Lady Gaga
When it comes to keeping our ears and eyes at attention, there are few up-and-coming pop songstresses that captivate our senses quite like Kerli. The 24-year-old blond-haired beauty grew up in the middle of the woods in Estonia, where the only real exposure she had to music as a child was classical arrangements and a couple of cassette tapes. Kerli eventually began to broaden her musical horizons on her own accord; and at age 21, she signed a record deal with L.A. Reid and moved to Los Angeles.
Now, the singer is busy in the studio perfecting her much anticipated follow-up record to her debut album, 'Love Is Dead.' Luckily, in between her busy globe-trotting, performance and recording schedule, PopCrush was able to catch up with Kerli for a quick interview. We spoke to the intriguing 'Army of Love' singer about her forthcoming rave-inspired LP, her unique sense of fashion, her signature 'bubblegoth' persona, and her views on fellow musical risk-taker, Lady Gaga.
What kind of music did you listen to growing up in Estonia?
You know we didn’t have a lot of music around. I actually only had two cassettes when I was growing up. I got a classical piano training when I was little, and we also had music study lessons where we’d have to listen to a lot of classical music. So I heard a lot of classical music. But I started buying my own music when I was 14 and got really really into [it]. I had some German music channels. The first album I bought for myself was ‘The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.’
You dropped out of school to pursue a career in music. Was that a difficult decision for you?
I mean it was difficult for my family more than for me. I grew up in a town -- it was so small that I was like, 'There’s absolutely no way that I’m going to stay here and live the kind of life that everybody else does.' So, it was very depressing for my mom because when other kids went to school, I just stayed at home and wrote music. And she came back from work and said, ‘Did you go to school today?’ and I was like, ‘No I didn’t.’ [Then she would ask] ‘What did you do the whole day?’ and I was like ‘Well, I wrote music,’ and she [would say] ‘So you did nothing’ and I [would answer] 'How could you say that? I wrote music.’ So I mean it was never a question for me. I always kind of knew what I was gonna do. I never doubted that I had made the right decision.
Your new album is expected for release some time this fall. Do you have a favorite track yet?
Yeah, I actually do. I have a couple that are really really special to me. And I’m kinda making a bit of a concept album. It’s very themed. I have like 10 titles that I know that I have to write and I’ve just been so meticulous about it. This one song that I think is one of the most special songs I’ve written for myself, nobody’s ever heard it. I haven’t performed it or anything. I did five versions of that song. 'Cause I had this title that I knew I had to nail so I would just rewrite it and rewrite it and start from scratch and totally change the approach. Even for the titles too, I would just go outside to the world and really study people and what they’re thinking, what they’re saying.
Your latest single 'Army of Love' seems to have an electronic, dance influence. Where did that stem from?
With this new album, I feel like I’ve gotten into this really great place in my life where I really just want to celebrate life. I’m really, really into the rave scene and just kind of how people come together and how it’s just music and just love. Like five years ago, I would have never thought that I’d be getting into this scene at all or that I could relate at all. But after going to raves and Electric Daisy and seeing how powerful it is -- there, it’s not about who’s gay or straight or whatever, it’s just love. So I’m really relating to that right now and it’s always artistic the way that people dress up and just really into that. I think my new album is going to be perfect for that scene.
Your attitude towards music and fashion kind of reminds us of Lady Gaga, since you both aren't afraid of taking risks. Are you a fan of hers?
Well, I think it’s great that she’s kind of like made it more creative and more interesting, but we are actually completely different. I actually hand-make most of the stuff I wear -- my shoes and my outfits and my props in my videos. It’s a bit different. I call myself 'Bubblegoth.’ I’m really into the goth and industrial stuff, but also the cute and rave-ish stuff, so I’m trying to put it all together. And like for me, fashion is not a shock thing, so that’s a huge difference I feel. But the biggest difference is that I’m a designer. I don’t wear other clothes -- I mean I would! But it played out that I happen to make everything I wear.
Where did the whole 'Bubblegoth' persona develop from?
You know, it actually came from somebody giving me a really bad album review on my first album. It wasn’t really a bad review in itself, it said: 'I don’t understand why everybody says she’s so goth. If anything she’s bubblegoth.' And I was like 'Holy s--t. This is amazing! I’m totally bubblegoth!' So now it’s like I’ve just kind of been developing it in every way. The fans online are contributing to the style and having their own ideas. We’re definitely building a street fashion thing on our own and all the videos they make. We share tutorials with each other. You should check out my iamamoonchild.net page. We definitely have a whole community of creating together.
Have you ever thought about creating your own fashion line?
Oh yeah. I will. I mean, it’s already kinda happening because I'm already making everything. So I’m already modeling everything I’m making in photos and videos, but I just have to start selling it. I’m actually really seriously thinking about it. You know, that’s why I feel like when people compare me to Gaga, I can’t really relate, although I think she has done a lot of great work creatively; but I’d much rather be compared to Gwen Stefani. I’ve seen videos of her on YouTube where she’s like 17 years old and she’s making the No Doubt outfits so you can see that her being a style icon is an organic thing and really truly her. So I’d much rather be compared to her as somebody who actually does all this stuff herself. It’s like I’m dressing like that with or without success. It’s just who I am. My crazy outfits didn’t come with million dollar budgets.
I read that you don't consider yourself part of any religion, but would you still consider yourself a very spiritual person?
Yes definitely. It’s a huge part of my life. I’ve been really trying to grow as a person every day. We all have these different characteristics and I’m really trying to nurture and see everything that makes me feel alive. I'm just constantly working on myself and always being in that space -- and I’m not all the time because I’m human, but I’m really, really trying and also trying to create that vibe with all the Moon Children too. Even little simple things like if my community wants to express their opinion on some artist on YouTube or something I tell them: 'You know, you can constructively criticize but you can find a nice way to do it.' Just really trying to bring the community in that way, like love-thinking and love-being.
It's important that you spread that message, since the Internet has become such a huge medium for publicizing hateful comments.
Yeah! I don’t think that cyber-bullying is getting enough attention. It’s really bad. I don't even read those comments, but I’ve always thought [celebrities] that are actually like huge, how hard it must be for them and how brave it looks when they step outside, but how much it actually hurts. Like just you as a person, how much it actually hurts when someone says mean things about you. Just because somebody’s successful or doing fine does not mean that they don’t have these natural human emotions.
Watch the Kerli 'Army of Love' Video