You would be hard pressed to find another pop artist morph into a overnight phenomenon so quickly as Kim Petras did this past summer. Her glistening electro pop ode to potential (and completely acceptable) heartbreak “Heart To Break” was one of the most buzzed about songs of the summer, seeing her shoot past 41 million streams online! She has followed up with equally earworm-worthy tracks like “I Don’t Want It All” and “Can’t Do Better” making everyone from The New York Times to Billboard magazine know that this starlet is one to watch. In addition to being buzzed about on the pop charts. she also holds the distinction of being the youngest person to receive gender reassignment surgery at the age of 16. Her authenticity and complete intention to “live out loud” makes her music that much more meaningful to her legions of fans. Those fans as well as new ones will see her hit the road with fellow pop royalty Troye Sivan as she opens up his nationwide tour. I caught up with Kim and we chatted everything from the truth about transition, living authentically, her love for drag queens and her ever so diverse legion of inspirations.
Michael Cook: Like Roxie Hart before you, you are the name on everyone’s lips this summer. How does it feel to suddenly be one of the biggest rising pop stars around?
Kim Petras-It feels amazing! It was very busy, there was a performance every day, I feel like I performed at every club, and I even got to perform on Fire Island and in Provincetown. I learned a lot and in a way, it completely kick started me this summer. I am very very grateful,
During this summer of learning, what do you think you learned the most?
Well, probably not to blow out my voice (laughs). I learned to definitely take care of myself and how important that is, especially if you are going to be performing every single night at a high pitch. It can be very hard not to loose your voice and you really have to take care of it like an instrument. I feel like I am getting much better at that.
All summer long, the boys went wild to both the original and the amazing remixes of “Heart To Break”. It was truly one of the biggest songs of the summer! What was it like hearing your song remixed in so many different ways?
Sick, I love hearing that! Thank you, I hope people liked the remixes, I am really happy how good they are. I love hearing myself remixed, I appreciate a good remix, I can tell you that. I think it is really important to have good club remixes. We picked them very carefully and I am so happy people have liked them so much.
You are hitting the road with Troye Sivan, who has been so buzzed about this summer as well. What is it like hitting the stage with another artist who has seemingly hit it big this summer as well?
I love Troye so much. I think his album is fantastic and he is an amazing songwriter. When he reached out and asked to be on tour with him, I was like “fuck yeah”! I am so excited about it. I am excited to see his set after I see my own and to play to fans all across America together. I think it is just such a cool 2018 moment with both of us on the same tour!
You live completely out loud as a proud trans woman, which gives you an entire legion of fans that look up to you for a myriad of reasons. What has the response been for you so far?
I meet people all the time who say that I inspire them. To be openly trans, especially how young I am. I started my first documentary about being trans when I was twelve years old. I have always been very lucky, having very supporting parents who understood transgender and that their kid was definitely a girl and who fought with me. That is such a rare thing and I am so aware that I am lucky. I think that is why I have started documentaries, trying to raise more awareness about me and transgender kids. I think it is so crucial that kids are able to transition early because it really is hell to wake up with the wrong gender that you do not identify with every day. I know that is hard for people who are not trans to understand, but the torment of that is the reason that there is so much suicide and so many negative things associated with being trans. It is something that has always existed and that is absolutely pretty normal if you are living it. You go through your transition, you are happy with your body and that is hopefully it.
Do you think you are finally happy with the skin you’re in?
Yes for sure. I have days when I am definitely not, like everyone else. I try to teach myself to be comfortable with my body and happy with myself, absolutely.
You are working with such a diverse group of artists, from being on Charli XCX’s mixtape to having Paris Hilton in a music video, your taste in collaborators of all kinds is super diverse. Is there anyone out there that you would absolutely love to collaborate with?
Yes, absolutely! I would die to work with Sza and of course with Troye without a doubt, I am really interested in his writing process. Clearly Cher, Cher is like my icon of life! The pop girls, Selena Gomez, Ariana Grande, I would just love to do a lot of collaborations and just see what happens.
Who has been your own spirit animal of sorts when you decided to get into singing?
Well in the beginning it was Carole King and Max Martin and the Bee Gees, Gwen Stefani and No Doubt definitely. My mom was very into jazz so my childhood was a lot of Etta James and Billie Holiday and Miles Davis. I just have always loved music. When I was thirteen or fourteen I just started writing on the daily. I wasn’t a really popular kid at school necessarily, so I was always in my bedroom writing songs about random things and whatever was on my mind. When I saw a documentary on Carole King, I realized that being a songwriter was really cool. Ever since then I have been really hustling. It started with laundry detergent jingles in Germany and then it turned into me being able to put out my own music. It has been a long journey with my writing ability. I was always very aware that no one was going to write me a song so I had to do it myself or it would not happen. Writing was a bit of a vehicle for me to become an artist.
Your music is the perfect type of mix to throw down a fierce lip sync too. Have you gotten a chance to catch anyone paying homage to your music in that particular way?
Yes! The dedication it takes to do a drag performance with the makeup and the wig and the performance, I am always looking at the artist and thinking of the amount of hours that they put into the look, just to perform to my song! I am so appreciative of it. I am friends with a bunch of drag queens and they are beautiful to me!
Well RuPaul’s Drag Race seems like that perfect vehicle for pop princesses to see their music performed by some fierce queens!
I would love to be on there to judge!; my fans would flip out!
What do you think is giving you the most inspiration right now?
I have just had a bunch of writing trips, I feel like I am definitely changing and new things are inspiring me. My life is changing and there is definitely a bit of a transformation coming, but I can’t talk about a date or anything yet. I am inspired by Depeche Mode, The Killers, and I am getting totally fall ready.
If you could tell your fans exactly what they mean to you right now at this point in your career, what would you say?
Just that I love them. Just as much as they tell me that I make them feel represented and free, its the same with them. I feel like my fans give me so much. So much power to be even more myself every day; I know that there are people out there that can relate to that. I have very dorky moments, I am not always the coolest person ever. My friends tell me that they love that about me though, that I am not a “cool chick”. They give me a little bit of power every day to be myself and it truly goes both ways.