Kim Petras Gets Even Spookier With 'Turn Off the Light' Project Ahead of New 'Clarity' Tour (Exclusive)
By Emily Krauser
Kim Petras isn't slowing down anytime soon -- especially not as her favorite holiday approaches.
After releasing Turn Off the Light Vol. 1 last fall, the 27-year-old singer is ready to finish the story. Turn Off the Light drops Tuesday not as a sequel but as a fully realized project, with the nine new, hauntingly boppy tracks combining to make one complete 17-track opus.
Any of Petras' megafans know that donning full-on costumes and all things horror are two of her favorite things, and fresh off her first-ever headlining tour, she's combining both in her own unique way. She's bringing a little glitter and disco to a world that can be full of blood, which is exactly what the second track on the album, "There Will Be Blood," proclaims. From the heavy club beat on "Bloody Valentine" to her demonic persona on "Massacre" to her Freddie Mercury tribute complete with Rocky Horror Picture Show vibes on the final track, "Everybody Dies," Petras has fully explored the space between dark and light to bring her unique perspective to life.
ET spoke with the German pop star over the phone to get to the heart of the nine new tracks, her love of Halloween and Nicki Minaj and what to expect on her upcoming Clarity Tour, which will take her across North America once again.
ET: Is Turn Off the Light essentially a continuation of last year's Vol. 1 drop?
Kim Petras: Yes, it’s a completion of Vol. 1. It’s something that I’ve always wanted to make. I just was so busy being on tour and all this stuff that last year that I could only finish Vol. 1, but I’ve always wanted it to be a bigger project. It’s more than a sequel, it’s the whole thing.
Do you see this as the final volume or do you think it’s something you may continue in future Halloween seasons?
For now, it’s the final volume. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but it’s definitely a complete story. Maybe I’ll have some stuff to add, but I’m not sure yet.
We know you're a big fan of Nicki Minaj. Did she have an influence on the new tracks, or any other artist for that matter?
I mean, Nicki Minaj is always inspiring to me! I love Nicki Minaj. But I was more inspired by like Danny Elfman, Marilyn Manson, soundtracks from horror movies like It Follows and Drive. [Drive] is one of my favorite soundtracks ever. I was a little bit more inspired by that and Rammstein and industrial stuff. It’s darker, a little bit.
So like with Vol. 1, it’s putting your pop twist on Halloween and heavy rock music.
For sure, and that’s something that comes really natural to me. I’ve always been such a fan of pop music and pop melodies -- that stuff’s just kind of in my blood. So, it’s definitely taking that and really making the pop my own... I just hope my fans really love [TOTL] as much as I do. I’m really proud of it.
Fans are starting to think of you in the way some people associate Mariah Carey with Christmas. How do you feel about being an ambassador of spooky pop?
That’s amazing. I was wondering last year if I could have a Halloween record because there’s all these Christmas records and everybody’s going crazy over Christmas. There’s just no album from front to back that’s made for Halloween, so that’s what I wanted to make. In the beginning, everybody thought I was crazy, because who just wants to listen to Halloween music? But it turns out a bunch of people did! I have a really dedicated fandom for Turn Off the Light Vol. 1. I definitely love Halloween and want to be an ambassador one million percent! I’m flattered.
Why is this holiday so important to you?
I was always obsessed with Halloween, but no one in Germany really celebrates it. So when I first came here, I was in L.A. and I wanted to do every Halloween thing. I love the spooky, I love villains in movies, I love watching horror movies all the time, I love going to [Universal Studios Hollywood’s] Halloween Horror Nights and haunted things -- I’m just really into them. I got really inspired and always wanted to make dark horror music because I feel like that genre inspires me so much. I f**king love Halloween so much. I think also just getting to dress up as whatever is amazing, always. I do it sometimes for events and I’ll always wear something kind of crazy, but it’s cool that there’s this special month of getting dressed up and doing really wild costumes. How intentional was it to toe the line between super dark and light with TOTL and make sure that it wasn't a complete 180 from your other music?
That’s always my goal. I’m always trying to experiment and not be content with what I’m creating. I always want to pick people up and take people out of their life and make a little song that you can put your headphones in and think about nothing but the song. I feel the same way about like Elvira, for example. She's so spunky but at the same time she’s so funny, and it’s so much fun to watch her. And, like, Britney Spears is fun. So, I always want to keep it fun, and I think Halloween is so fun and things like horror movies, very campy things. I definitely don’t want anything on this to just be [scary]. I want there to be some kind of uplifting message.
Speaking of Elvira, are there any more collabs on TOTL or in other music you're working on?
I definitely have some features that I can’t talk about, but there’s none on Turn Off the Light project. I feel like Elvira was the ultimate one and gave me the stamp of approval for making a Halloween record. I just wanted that one collaboration on there because it’s kind of like iconic. But I’m doing stuff with other artists and I’m really excited about the next couple of months.
You're embarking on your biggest tour yet in October. What does it feel like to be taking this next step with the upcoming Clarity Tour?
It feels insane that I can play in these venues and sell them out. It’s pretty crazy. I’m so excited because I get to really make the show everything I want it to be, and I feel like I’ve learned so much in my last two tours, just about my show and the performances. I think I’m a way better performer. I've never performed [the new songs on] Turn Off the Light -- this will be the first time I’m ever performing them. It’s a completely new show, so it’s very exciting -- and nerve-wracking!
What kind of new elements will fans have to look forward to?
I don't want to give anything away, but nothing’s from the old show. You can expect a bunch of new outfits, hair and staging. It’s a completely new setlist.
Is there a particular song that you're really excited to perform on tour?
“Icy.” I haven’t performed “Icy,” which is probably my favorite song from Clarity right now. I think the Halloween stuff is going to be really fun because it’s October, so we can get so spooky with it. I’m excited.
What is it like for you to meet your fans in person when you go out on tour?
It’s amazing. I always love meeting anybody who stays long after the shows. I feel like a lot of them are my friends -- a lot of them have my number and we talk all the time, and I’m really interested to find out what kind of stuff they like. I feel like it’s part of finding myself and being confident in myself, because when I first started writing songs, I didn’t think anybody was interested in me, and I didn’t know there were a bunch of people out there who got me and cared about what I had to say, so I feel like they make me so confident and a better performer, songwriter, everything. I do a lot of it for them now.
You’re a big voice to a lot of young fans who’ve been either have been marginalized or just haven't found somebody that they can relate to, and I imagine you feel that when you get to meet them.
Whenever I can inspire anybody, I just feel super honored. I feel like I have a purpose. I know that music is my destiny. I don't know why, but I just did. I get to make people forget about their problems and make people feel really happy. I feel really blessed that I get to be in this position.
I loved the photoshoot for those. There's so many iconic songs of hers that have Fendi in it, so I’m excited for it. It’s going to be damn expensive, but I’m going to be saving up for it, because I’m obsessed with anything Nicki Minaj.
Do you have any fashion collaborations in the works yourself?
I’m obsessed with fashion, so I would love to do that. I feel like I’m really knowledgeable, but currently no. I’m creating my own stage outfits and designing my merch, so I feel like I’m learning and one day that would be sick, but right now I’m all about music and my tour and building my fan base.
Who would your dream fashion house be if you got the opportunity to collab?
Probably Louis Vuitton. I love Louis Vuitton.
The Clarity Tour kicks off in Vancouver, British Columbia, on Oct. 21 and wraps up in San Diego on Dec. 8.