Kim Petras is Having an Icy, Spooky Halloween Season

We asked the pop star about channeling spooky energy in 'Turn Off The Light,' her collaborations with Charli XCX, and embarking on her long-awaited 'Clarity' tour.
Reading time 11 minutes
Photo credit: Clare Gillen and Alexandre Moors

Woo-ah turns boo-ah on the second installment of Kim Petras’s spellbindingly unique Halloween project, Turn Off The Light. Petras released Volume 1 last October, and fans couldn’t get enough. Now, just in time for the spookiest of seasons, the German pop queen has graced us with yet another set of Halloween-inspired tracks. With song titles like “Tell Me It’s A Nightmare” and “Bloody Valentine,” the album tells a creepy tale of love, lust, and murder. The musician seamlessly pairs twinkly synths with bone-chilling screams, creating bite-size bops that will perfectly fit into any Halloween party. While "Monster Mash" and "This Is Halloween" on repeat are fun, there's no denying that creatures of the night everywhere are going to welcome the new crop of bubblegum-infused chillers throughout the spooky weekends to come.

Leading up to the release of the project, Petras posted a series of cryptic Instagram photos depicting herself as a zombie, looking creepy-chic in the absence of her irises and pupils. The captions, using an effect that compels one to look closer by obscuring the words with random markings, display literal spells. One reads, “What was awakened from its sleep must once again slumber deep, Return the disease to whence it came, so they can ease back to the same,” referencing the witchy TV show Charmed. The pop star's dedicated fans immediately sensed that Volume 2 was looming, leading them to blow up the comment section. “Been waiting in my coffin for this,” said one user. “Secure the (trick or treating) bag sis!” said another.

Though it's been a year between her two Halloween volumes, Petras never stopped shaking up the pop world. It’s been the biggest year of her career to date—in June, Petras released her critically acclaimed debut album, Clarity, which sent her skyrocketing to #8 on Billboard’s Hot Dance/Electronic chart. Since then, she's been working, collaborating, and wig-snatching nonstop. She featured on “Click,” the glitchy crown jewel of Charli XCX’s eponymous new album, Charli. Now, she heads on tour for Clarity in just a matter of days on October 21, making stops across the U.S. and Canada before bringing her bops to Europe this winter. (So if you want to hear her iconic woo-ah for yourself, you’re in luck.)

Today, she releases her video for "Icy," and to match the incredibly personal chronicle of heartbreak, the star has crafted an even more intense visual. Clad in a white minidress and a luxurious red coat, Petras establishes her dominance—even while trapped in a glass box. "Now I got an ice cold heart/ VVS' is the only kinda ice I want," she sings in the chorus. Just like on Turn Off The Light, Petras channels a chilling energy on "Icy" that's sure to have you caught in her spell.

L’Officiel spoke to Petras about the process of creating a spooky sound for Turn Off The Light, how she plans to bring Halloween to her concerts, and whether there will be a Volume 3 for her hit concept. Read the full interview and check out the new video below.

For a long time, there’s been a gap in who’s been serving us Halloween music. Why did you think it was the right time for you to make this project?

I was wondering why there was no Halloween music and so much Christmas music. It’s kind of new territory, so we had to have that conversation. We were like, "Let’s make a Halloween-inspired album." We dropped the first part last year, and it became a cult classic in no time. We dropped the second part, and I’ve been amazed at the reaction. Every Halloween party that I go to is playing the record. It’s been really exciting. When I said that I wanted to make a Halloween record, everyone was like, "What the fuck?" It’s definitely not what I expected, I thought it would be a fun thing to do. I felt really inspired. I love it; it’s one of my proudest projects. I feel like there’s nothing like it. 

What was the process of blending sonic styles of your trademark bubblegum pop with traditional Halloween sounds like organs and screams? 
I’m really inspired by horror movies. Horror movie soundtracks are probably the best soundtracks around. I love them. There are so many good ones; I can play them front to back. They really inspire me, and the ‘80s were such a good time for these iconic sounds. Aaron Joseph, who I wrote every song with, is also really into horror. We worked together and had the most ridiculous fun we could have. I really wanted there to be this dance stuff because at the end of the day, I want this to be something that you can dance to. Lyrically, the most inspiring things come from me and my personality and stuff like that. I was coming up with a movie in my head of what my horror movie would be. It’s been a freeing thing. I’ve been writing all of these different songs. Clarity was really personal, and this one has more freedom in what I can say. I think that’s what’s really inspiring.

What was it like working with Halloween icon Elvira? How did that partnership happen?

I reached out for weeks and weeks and weeks, and my friends reached out to her. Everyone was saying that she’s really hard to get ahold of, that she’s really elusive. We finally got in touch with her, sent her the song, and she said, "Okay. I really like it. I want to do it." She told us that she doesn’t usually do anything, and she only wants to be on songs that she really likes. That was really cool; it felt like a stamp of approval from her. It felt really awesome to have a Halloween icon on it who said, "Okay, I like this." I’m a huge fan of her and the movie, and she’s such an icon. I got to interview her for PAPER Magazine, and her personality is amazing. She’s an amazing person and really nice and cool. She’s awesome.


Why did you choose to combine Volume 1 with the new songs into one project?

It was something we planned to do. These new songs are Volume 2 of Turn Out The Light. I always wanted to do something that felt like a movie, a full record, a full visual. The first one felt short, and I felt like I had more to say. I always wanted it to be something bigger. With Volume 2, we were trying to take it where we wanted it to go.

Photo credit: Thom Kerr

Some of the songs on the project are very personal and existential, especially “Everybody Dies.” How did you find the balance between themes of love, death, sex, and witchcraft?

I didn’t want it to be too one-dimensional. I thought that, for the final song, it was cool to step back and write something about my life that’s really meaningful to me and really tie that in. I think that that song is very much me and my personality. It’s very much about where I am now. It just came about, and it’s really beautiful. It really does complete the story arc. It felt like a big homage to Rocky Horror Picture Show, big numbers like that. 


For the promotional images, you worked with Lucas David to create a sort of Kim-zombie hybrid. How did you put it together with him?

Last year was the first year that we did the Turn Off The Light countdown, with the scary images. Before that, I had been thinking about what to do, and I had been following him for years, and I looked up to him. It was a year before we did Turn Off The Light, and it really came to mind immediately that I needed to work with him. We worked together to use photos that I had taken before and make them into scary, nightmare versions of them. Lucas made it super easy because he is amazing. Full credit to Lucas for all of the visuals for Turn Off The Light. 


You’ve had a really big year since releasing Volume 1. Did any of your collaborations, like with SOPHIE or Charli XCX, influence the sound you wanted for the new songs?

Absolutely. I feel like SOPHIE is really inspiring as a person. From working with her, I’ve learned so much. Charli is one of the best songwriters ever, I think, and honestly, a great friend at this point to me. I feel like I’ve learned from her, being around her and seeing what she does so well. It’s really inspiring. I think that everything you do, even the slightest thing, influences your music, your lyrics, everything. Every little thing in my life affects it.

You’re about to go on tour for Clarity, and you have a show in LA the night before Halloween. Are you planning to do anything special for the show? Any plans for Halloween?

That’s the night! We’re definitely making it super special, and I definitely want to play a lot more from Turn Off The Light. It’s going to be the scary night of the Clarity tour. I’m really stoked. We’re kind of turning the Clarity tour upside down for that one. It’s going to be a special night. LA has the best horror culture, so it’s going to be really cool to do my big Halloween show there. I’m so excited for that. Also, I’ve never played the Shrine; that’s the biggest venue I’ve done in LA. It’s so cool. I can’t believe my life sometimes. It’s going to be a special night. I can’t wait to see all the costumes!


What song from Turn Off The Light are you most excited to perform live?

All of the new ones. I haven’t done them, but we’ve been rehearsing them, making them work with the staging, figuring out how to perform them. Really just all of them! I want it to be like a big party. 


Can fans expect a Volume 3 in the future?

Turn Off The Light is Turn Off The Light. It’s an album now. It’s wrapped. I love it so much, but I feel like the story and the thought is completely there. But who knows, I don’t know what’s going to happen.


This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.


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