Kim Petras Is a True, Unapologetic Poptimist
We're premiering her new video for last year's bouncy single “Faded,” while she talks to us about the bubblegum pop 00s heyday.
Lead image by Charlotte Rutherford
Over the past few years, there’s been a renewed sense of energy around pop music. You could say it’s because some of the most defining albums have been released by artists who fit under that umbrella – Charli XCX’s Pop 2, Lorde’s Melodrama, Rina Sawayama’s Rina. You could say it’s because the people who grew up during the late 90s/early 2000s bubblegum pop boom are now old enough to shape culture. Or you could say it’s because trends are cyclical and there’s nothing else to it. Either way, pop music rules and I will strike down the first person who says it doesn't, with an original 1999 Britney Spears doll that I genuinely still have in its box on my bookshelf at home.
If you too are a pop nerd, then you may have already heard of 25-year-old artist Kim Petras. Towards the end of last year she released debut single “I Don't Want It At All”, the video for which already has around 1.5 million views because: a) the song sounds like a synth is being played by little rays of sunshine and; b) Paris Hilton actually appears, at the end, in a glittering silver dress and passes Kim a pink credit card with her name on, like some kind of iconic consumerist deity. That release was later followed by a feature on Charli XCX’s bright, electronic “Unlock It” alongside South Korean superstar Jay Park, which cemented everyone involved as having exceptional taste. All of which brings us to now, at Kim Petras’ new video for “Faded”, which we’re premiering below.
It’s brilliant, obviously. Kim’s array of outfits – a blood-red PVC raincoat, an alien green tracksuit, a huge white plastic dress – look striking against the bleak, industrial spaces that she dances around in. It also features Lil Aaron who swings his neon hair around at the end and sings about double-stuffed blunts and getting fucked up. When I catch Kim on the phone from her LA home, she tells me that all of these aesthetics were primarily inspired by the actual sound of the song itself, like synaesthesia projected onto the screen. “The director – Nicholas Harwood – is my friend, he’s really awesome, we have the same brain and the same ideas about things,” she tells me. “So we just listened to the song a bunch and the space and the chops in it immediately made us think of industrial buildings and empty rooms and plastic-y stuff and neon colours matched with grey, so the sound of the song itself kind of inspired all the visuals. Also, you know, I’m European, so I like it when things have a bit of dirt and aren’t overly perfect.”
It doesn’t take long for our conversation to turn to our mutual obsession with pop music, why we love it so much and where that adoration stems from. “I’ve always felt part of pop music, since the days of Spice Girls, Britney and Christina, and I’ve always been obsessed with what makes a great pop song. And it’s something I’ve been asking myself a lot recently. There’s something about making a song that everybody can sing and remember, and when you listen to it the first time you already know the words by the second chorus, like you’ve always known the song. I’m obsessed with that idea.”
I tell her she might have cracked the code, that “Faded” might be that kind of song. What is she working on next? “I'm dropping a lot more singles, working on my videos, performances, production; I'm building up a body of work, I'm readying everything.”
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