THE INSIDER: KERLI
there's a new pop star in town...
Take us back to the very beginning-how'd you get into music?
I grew up in the forest, in a small town of 5,000. From the very beginning, I had decided that music was going to be my out. I learned about this talent show on TV that was basically the Estonian version of American Idol. So I lied about my age, went on the show, and won. I think my story is about working really hard and dreaming really big.
Did you know what type of sound you wanted starting out?
I was 14 years old at that point, so not really. I remember they told me I had to pick a song for the competition, and I had picked all these alternative songs because I was this kid with piercings and stuff. So I came in and they were like, "No, we've already picked a song for you," and they assigned me “Like a Bird” by Nelly Furtado. But now it's totally different, and I write, I produce, I make my own outfits.
How do you come up with the concepts of your videos?
For the “Army of Love” video, I went back to Estonia for 3 weeks and rented a basement and made 50% or more of the costumes and props.
Why do you like making your own clothes?
I feel like Estonia, the sky is so low and the people are much more close-minded than in America. So when I came to the U.S, I had a massive explosion of creativity and felt like I could do basically anything I want. With every video I make more and more and more stuff.
And you created your whole look, too, right?
Yep. I do hair, too.
Is it your real hair?
[Laughing] No. You wish!!
How do you feel when people try to compare you to other musicians?
I hate it. People generalize music by how you look, and I don't like that.
Where do you shop?
Oh my god. I shop everywhere. I love to shop online, Ebay is like heaven for me. I shop at a bunch of dingy stripper stores. Oh, and Ross. I love really cheap things, because then I customize them.
In terms of music, who do you listen to?
I don't really listen to pop at all. For music for me is such an intense experience, I sometimes listen to really weird ambient stuff that buzzes for 15 minutes. For my latest record, I listen to a lot of choir music, like Enya and also ‘90s cartoon-y stuff like Aqua to get this soundscape that's a little bit ambient and a little bit anime.
-- LIZA DARWIN
Learn more about Kerli here!