A Chat with Kerli, Kerli interview

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If you should ever meet Estonian pop princess Kerli, well, you are a very lucky person. The 21-year-old beauty is one not your typical pop singer, not by a damned sight. A word of caution, though: in conversation, avoid using the G-word at all costs. Her debut single, “Love Is Dead,” may be filled to the brim with brooding melodrama, but she was quick to tell us that she’s no Goth girl, damn it. Heck, we never even mentioned the word “Goth” in the questions we emailed her, but that didn’t stop her from setting us straight on the matter. With her full-length debut, also titled Love Is Dead, finally in stores, Kerli is ready for her close-up and eager to show the world that there is much more to her than Amy Lee comparisons and Bauhaus covers.

Bullz-Eye: What was it like going from the forests of Estonia to the jungle that is Los Angeles?

Kerli: I always get asked this question and it's so hard to answer. What was it like? Exciting, scary, lonely. But my intuition was guiding me. I was like a seed, wanting to turn into a flower and reach the sunshine. The seed doesn't see the sun, either. It just keeps going because it feels it's there.

I kind of gradually left the forest. My first business meeting happened when I was 14 and I was freaking out because I wasn't very good at eating with a fork and a knife and I was so scared that I was going drop my food. After that I spent two years in Sweden, songwriting. That made me grow up fast. Then [I lived in] New York and now Los Angeles. I am not surprised to be here. I always knew where I wanted to end up. It's kind of like I dreamt myself ready, and just kept going. 

BE: How many times have people asked you about Amy Lee, and how do you feel about the comparison?

K: I personally think that all kinds of comparisons, and needs to identify and put new artists in a box, are ridiculous. But Amy is an excellent singer and songwriter, so I guess I should be flattered.

BE: Was it creepy to see yourself in old-age makeup for the "Love Is Dead" video?

K: It was really interesting, actually. I wore, like, eight different make-ups and I was stuck under these silicone masks for the whole day. It was very uncomfortable. I also wore lenses that I couldn't see through, and fake teeth so I couldn't swallow.

I'm really not scared of aging. I think it's beautiful. Every wrinkle tells a story. Getting old is so natural. I like the fact that when I'm 60 years old, people are going skip judging the surface and go straight to the core. I think me being stuck in this blonde 21-year-old body right now is kind of a joke. It's hard for people to see me for what I really am.

BE: How did you come to cover Bauhaus' "She's in Parties?"

K: You know, it's not like I listen to Bauhaus all day long. Someone happened to play me that song and I thought it was a great song to cover. It's not that I'm trying to be all Goth. I fucking hate labeling.

BE: How much exposure did you have to western pop music as a child? What artists first opened your eyes to a potential career as a pop singer?

“I think me being stuck in this blonde 21-year-old body right now is kind of a joke. It's hard for people to see me for what I really am.”

K: I don't remember having much exposure to the western music when I was little. My parents weren't music lovers. When I was five years old, I had two cassettes: Phil Collins and Bonnie Tyler. Later on it was the Spice Girls and everything else I could see on Viva (a German music channel). At first I just wanted to be a singer like every other eight-year-old wants to be a singer, but by the time I was 14 I was REALLY wanting to be a singer and ready to drop any other activities, including school, to go after my dreams.

BE: Whose career path would you most like to emulate?

K: I don't think there has been anyone particular whose path I would like to follow. I would take Bjork’s credibility and Gwen Stefani’s business sense and add a little bit of Marilyn Manson’s weirdness. I want to be so much more than an entertainer. I want to be a friend.

BE: "I know you think of me when you're beside her / Inside her." Knowing wink to Alanis Morissette's "You Oughta Know," or coincidence?

K: Both. I have always loved that song, and that is the best line ever. However, I must have done it subconsciously, because I definitely don't want to use anyone else’s lines when I write.

BE: Put your iPod on Shuffle, and tell me the first three songs that play.

K: Something from Sigur Ros, Imogen Heap, Joni Mitchell or Lamb
BE: Name three songs you wish you had written.

K: Bjork, “Yoga.” The song that Tupac covered, “Changes.” I think Elton John wrote it. Correct me if I'm wrong. (Editor’s Note: Bruce Hornsby, actually.) But every time I hear those chords, I get chills. “Sugarplum Fairy” by Tchaikovsky.

“I was like a seed, wanting to turn into a flower and reach the sunshine. The seed doesn't see the sun, either. It just keeps going because it feels it's there.”

BE: Who would you most like to work with on your next album?

K: I really want to work a lot by myself. I have all these crazy ideas, and I've been writing and producing a lot lately. I just want to rent a studio and hire an engineer and do it.

BE: Fill in the blank: if I weren't a pop singer, I would most likely ____

K: Live in a little house in some Tibetan village and wash dishes at a local restaurant for 12 bucks a month. I would write music and grow herbs and meditate all day long.

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