Natalia Kills isn’t a flavor of the week; this badass babe is here to dominate the music industry with her stunning looks, heart-wrenching lyrics and incredible (really incredible) fashion sense. We chatted with this major babe about her wild past, her latest album Trouble and what she loved most about Fashion Week.
Playboy.com: You wore some incredible pieces while you checked out this year’s Fashion Week. What designers excited you the most?
Kills: I was most excited by the Prabal Gurung show. I don’t know if you saw any of the pictures online, but it was kind of incredible! They had all of the girls there behind plastic so it had this really kitschy Stepford Wives, mannequin-esque feeling. All the models would then walk out from behind the plastic onto the runway and do their show. It really brought me back to when I was a little girl; my most exciting moments were taking the Barbie doll out from behind the plastic. Barbie just had everything to do with glamour and beauty and everything it means to be a woman in a most unrealistic but most adorned way, so it was incredible to see the Prabal show because when these models were walking out it was as if I was taking the Barbies out of the box for the first time too. Everything felt shiny and new, with a kind of clinical but glamorous feeling. And the hair was pasted and super gelled to the models, so it had this unattainable clinical beauty but in the most appealing, girly, candy-coated way. It was both unrealistic and aspirational; I think it was my favorite one of the whole week.
I went to go see the Fenton-Fallon jewelry line as well; the models walked to my song “Problem.”
Playboy.com: It must’ve been surreal to be there for that!
Kills: It was so
fun and so surreal. I went to Alice + Olivia and a few other collections as
well and it was just so incredible seeing hundreds of people clapping and it’s
my song that’s playing. Absolutely amazing.
Playboy.com: You seem like a pretty positive person! Instead of running away from negativity you seem to embrace the things it can teach you. What kind of a writing process do you have because of that?
Kills: I would say I am the opposite, actually; I am not a positive person. And because I find it so hard to escape my negative feelings that is why I have dark and twisted lyrics within my songs about everything from my childhood and trying to grow up as a teenager, running away, moving out, joining a religious cult, having psychotic arguments with my awful boyfriend, having nowhere to live and staying in $25-a-night motels and really run down places and getting kicked out of them. I would say that because I am obsessive or haunted by memories that are not good I find it hard to stay away from them and that’s why my music has that edge. I know when I sing it, though, it sounds powerful and that I’m completely overcoming these things, but it’s actually not the case. The more defiant my songs sound, the more they’re laced with despair, I’d say.
Playboy.com: I know that you write for yourself, and not for anyone else. Is there a song on the album you’re particularly happy to have completed and out there?
Kills: I do write for other people; I recently wrote a song for Angel Haze’s new album—she’s an incredible rapper—and I have done lots of soundtracks for movies, but when it comes to my stuff I don’t feel that it makes sense to work with other cowriters or anything because I write from memory, so if I were to have songs on my album that had other writers involved it would probably be revolving more about their interpretation of my story rather than my own memories, and I don’t really want to dilute my documentary, my autobiography, with someone else’s interpretation of how it felt to be me at that moment in time that I’m singing about.
Playboy.com: Could you touch a bit on the song “Devils Don’t Fly”?
Kills: Oh my god,
oh no! I don’t know if you’ve heard the song, but it’s essentially my teenage
suicide ballad. I feel like it’s normal; everyone, especially teenage girls,
wants to kill herself over a boy who she’s madly in love with that doesn’t
treat her very well. I feel like it’s quite normal, singing about a moment in
time that you just feel like you’ve gotten absolutely everything wrong, and some
of the lyrics in the song are exactly the things that I said to the boy at the
time. Like the lyric “It’s not ’cause I’m young or from a broken home, maybe I
just fight ’cause I don’t know where I belong.” I really felt like that when I
was 17. I had this “bad girl” image; people would talk about how I ran away and
did all of these things like stealing and then selling whatever to buy plane
tickets and I moved to Hollywood and did all of this stuff, but I wasn’t doing
it to be a badass, I was doing it because I didn’t really have any other
solutions. I didn’t have a family to go home to, I didn’t know where I belonged,
and finding out that my boyfriend didn’t really love me or treat me very well
just…I was always trying to escape a certain kind of madness and in doing that
I got into even more madness.
Playboy.com: “Rabbit Hole” is so catchy, too; it’s either that song for me or “Devils Don’t Fly” that’s my favorite on the album.
Kills: [Laughs] Thank you! Oh my god, I guess I was kind of a bitchy teenager if I think about it; I definitely had the feeling that boys’ moms were not very happy to have me sitting at their kitchen table for breakfast on a Saturday morning, I could just tell. So that was me being completely cocky. It’s an admission, “Okay, I’m totally going to corrupt your son and I’m not sorry, and yes, you should be worried. But you know what? I’m sitting here eating eggs and waffles and we’re going to sit here, smile and pretend that nothing is wrong.” [laughs]
Playboy.com: I read somewhere that for your “Saturday Night” video the actors bear a striking resemblance to your family and the set was based on your childhood home. What was it like to shoot such an emotional video?
Kills: It was really exciting. I write the treatments to my videos, I work with an incredible director, his name is G [Guillaume Doubet] from France, we always work together. When I tell him what I want the video to look like I am fully involved in the process from the beginning. So I did the casting for my parents, basically I was the one who chose exactly who would play my mother and father. I sent out pictures of what my real parents looked like at the time of what I am singing about, things that happened 12 years ago. It was really interesting because when we walked on the set and had everything figured out to film it, it did feel like I was walking back into my memory. It was the strangest thing in the world to be able to recreate it so directly and in such detail. So walking back to this place as an adult, you go through being retrospective to being submerged into the whole feeling again. That helped me make the emotion in the video more honest and real because I was back there again in the closest form that I could ever get myself back there. It was a really good experience.
Playboy.com: On the other end of the spectrum, your video for “Trouble” is super sexy. Have you always been open with your sexuality?
Kills: I think that when you want to be really honest and direct, the only way to do it is to behave exactly how you did at the time. So I don’t think of it as me being an exhibitionist or provocative, tantalizing or even sexy, but I definitely was like that at the time when I was 19 and I first started going to Hollywood and trying to make it, living in those rundown motels and getting into trouble. All I did was try and meet people, walk around, try on things I couldn’t afford, go to the 7-Eleven, eat food, put it back and not pay for it…I was kind of a degenerate, a glamorous degenerate, and I wanted the video to represent that. We even shot the video in Hollywood right near where I used to stay, in a motel that was almost exactly like the ones I used to stay in. Getting to be all of these different versions of myself on camera is what makes it the most fun for me because I get to show people who I really am and what I’m really like rather than trying to create or fabricate something that isn’t necessarily truthful.
Playboy.com: What’s your…
Favorite drink: That’s a weird question; I’d say it’s Earl Grey tea. I want to say it’s the blood of my last lover, but it’s not.
Favorite food: I really like to cook Jamaican food. I’m half Jamaican, and one of the things that I look forward to the most when I go back to the U.K. is just having a huge plate of curry chicken rice and peas and a Guinness Punch and, I don’t know, just going back to my Jamaican roots, I suppose.
Worst pickup line: My favorite pickup lines in the world are the cheesiest ones ever! I love cheesy pickup lines, but what could be the worst? When there isn’t one. I feel horribly insulted when a man walks past me and doesn’t ask me on a date; that is truly upsetting to me. Except if he’s married, and then I’ll give him a pass.
Embarrassing moment: I was doing a huge 12-hour photo shoot for a massive glossy magazine and it was based near my house in uptown New York because they were doing a whole piece about me and my lifestyle—I’m pretty glamorous, sometimes I’ll go to the deli at four A.M. in a mink coat and heels and stuff like that, and I have a sweet pound Chihuahua named Bambi—and the whole photo shoot was based on my life. There was a beautiful male model, because sometimes I like to go to the park and make out with these handsome men, and they hate it. The men don’t hate it, but all of the old ladies and moms with the pushchairs are like, “Oh my god, PDA, stop!” So we’re shooting this park scene with him dressed head to toe in Dior or something amazing and he’s holding my little three-pound Chihuahua who’s going to be in the shot. So Bambi is sitting there on his lap—and he’s very cute, even though he’s way younger, legal but young. And, um, [laughs] she pees right in the middle of his lap while we’re sitting there flirting with each other, like really flirting, and pee all over the Dior, all over his pants in front of the crew right before the shot, and he doesn’t realize it’s happened and he stands up and it looks like he’s peed, it was the worst ever! So embarrassing.
First memory of Playboy: My first real memory of Playboy was being invited to the Playboy Mansion. I went with Bruno Mars, he was performing a gig there. It was quite recent, actually, I think it was less than two years ago. So I was there and I remember we sat at a table with Bruno right before he went onstage and Britney Spears and Cameron Diaz, and we’re sitting there talking about shoes and champagne and all sorts of rubbish fun stuff, and one of the champagne bottles popped and sprayed absolutely everyone, it was so funny, so that’s my first memory.