Kim Petras has told Music Week that she is relishing the fact that she has proved the music industry wrong ahead of the release of her major label debut.
Feed The Beast is out today (June 23) via Republic/Island and it arrives in the wake of her smash Sam Smith collaboration Unholy, which won a Grammy and currently has 1,069,083 UK sales, according to the Official Charts Company.
Petras stars on the cover of the new edition of Music Week and gives an uncompromising interview about her story so far, alongside Wendy Goldstein of Republic, Island’s Louis Bloom and 724 Management’s Jesse Peters.
“People used to always tell me I’m a niche artist just because I’m trans,” Petras told Music Week. “And that’s why I’m only gonna play in gay clubs. And that’s why my audience is limited because I’m too extreme and people can’t relate to me, because I make songs about what I know, which is pretty trans – all I know is the trans experience. So yeah, people used to tell me it wasn’t possible and I was too weird to get a big hit.”
Petras, who began her career independently and found success via projects including Turn Off The Light, Clarity and Slut Pop, said that Unholy’s success marked a watershed moment.
“I feel like Sam gave me back so much of my confidence and made me think, ‘Okay, maybe I’m not too weird to have a big song,’” she said. “Sam gave me confidence and the Grammy was just the crazy cherry on top. I’m so grateful forever that I got to have that moment to thank Sophie and thank my mom.”
Petras revealed more about her path to a Grammy win, a journey that began growing up in Germany with aspirations to become a musician.
“On my first tour, people protested outside – I’ve been pretty used to people being upset about me existing,” she said. “In school, people were upset that I existed. When I went to seek treatment, doctors called me crazy. I’ve had a life of being told that everything I do is wrong and disgusting and I’m going to hell and all of that. That prepared me for this and that made it feel kind of sweet.”
Petras also had a message for her critics.
“All the people that are upset are the people that never liked me my whole life, but now they have to listen to the song – so, boohoo, cry about it,” she said.
Manager Jesse Peters stressed that Petras’ route to a major label deal has involved years of hard work.
“Kim didn’t happen with Unholy,” Peters said. “There is an entire six years prior to that, releasing music as an independent artist, touring and doing shows and hustling the fuck out of everything, just to break through the noise a little bit.”
Petras said that she made the decision to sign based on finding the right people ("I don’t think the entire music industry is horrible, but specific people are only about money").
Now, post-Unholy, Petras is ready to take another step forward, with Feed The Beast set to propel her to new heights.
“I really want to play the game,” she stated. “I really do want to be a major player. I’ve always been embarrassed or ashamed of that a little bit. But I feel like this time I really started just owning it – I want to do this at the highest level I can possibly do it. And if not now, then never.”
Petras explained that Feed The Beast is based on the maxim of “‘Don’t be afraid of your desires and what you really, really want and don’t be embarrassed to want more for yourself.’”
The album’s title taps into Greek mythology, Petras told Music Week.
“It’s cool for me to work with such an intense title and theme because I was going a lot into Greek mythology and mythology in general,” she said. “I found the story of Andromeda [whose parents tried to, quite literally, feed her to the beast] and I got really inspired by that for the artwork. But making all of that into a fun, pop record was such a great challenge.”
And, now that the record is out, Petras’ mission will continue.
“I think one of the most uninteresting things is just to aim to fit in,” she said. “And since I never felt like I really did, I love to encourage people that don’t fit in too. I want them to think, ‘Well, she can dress however she wants and she thinks that’s cool, so I can go to school in my latex dress.’ I used to be that way with Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and Nicki Minaj – they inspired me to think I can dress crazy. So those are the people I want to reach.”
PHOTO: Tori Agosta