British singer-songwriter Natalia Kills is the prototype of an exceptionally talented artist, with her sound described as dark pop-provocateur, lyrics that are an indirect connotation of her life experiences and sex appeal that exudes through her music videos.
The New York-based artist adores fashion, with a unique sense of style and taste for hip brands like Prabal Gurung (worn on the cover of her latest album), Christopher Kane (whose dress she wears in the video for her hit single Saturday Night) and Jeremy Scott (for whose show she sat front row).
Kills, who released her sophomore album Trouble this year, visited New Zealand recently where she attended the NZ Music Awards - awarding Lorde the international achievement award - and charmed local fashion designers like Marc Moore from Stolen Girlfriends Club and James Dobson of Jimmy D. In between fashion shoots, she spoke to us about music and style.
On her early influences
I was born in Bradford but in a "capsule of paradise", surrounded by the harsh reality of a forgotten suburban town. We were constantly travelling in a yacht or private plane, and living in hotel suites, manors, or mansions around the world. I started writing songs to my dad after his arrest to cheer him up. The practice of putting words together to change someone else's mood, to change their thought and feeling . . . this is when I realised that I could make an impact. I was 12 at the time.
On her style
My style can be described as "aggressively feminine". I like hard, sharp lines, dark colours, things that are stiff, ridged, impossible, evocative, seductive - I like to mix all of that, but in the most feminine way. Being sensual is very important to me and for people to feel pleasure when they look at me. I also love silly. Dripping in gold sequins and diamonds, I want people to think, "Is that a mermaid? Or a schoolgirl? Or a dominatrix?" They end up playing a game with themselves and I am playing with the clothes, and it's all silly. If we aren't having fun with it then something's wrong - the whole point isn't to do something right but to do it in exuberance. I guess I am polarised in that sense.
Movie characters have always inspired my style while growing up. Ginger from Casino in her sequinned mini dresses and tacky ponytail, for example - but I would mix that with Cartier bracelets and mink coats. Dionne from Clueless did preppy, bitchy, private school outfits in a very thug way.
On New Zealand music
My favourite moment at the NZ Music Awards recently was when Lorde whispered in my ear, "I'm a huge fan, I love your music." This was a huge compliment. I am a big admirer of her music; she captures feeling naturally with lyrics, deep and perfect. I also love Willy Moon. When you meet him in real life he is just as strange, extraordinary and charming as he seems and I love this consistency and authenticity. He is a real musician - he not only plays but also produces himself, it's incredible.
On New Zealand fashion
New Zealand fashion is full of influential, niche brands and dangerously talented people. The quality and expectations are of the same standards as New York, London and Paris. There is no trying to be an extrovert, introvert, hip or cool; I like how unassuming everything is. I was blown away by the standards.
I have a list of New Zealand brands that I love. I have a shirt from Stolen Girlfriends Club; it's mesh at the back and a classic white shirt in the front, and I feel like half-Busta Rhymes and half-Michelle Obama in it.
Zora Bell Boyd's designs are excellent, the perfect combination of extreme and whimsical, without trying to bring attention to yourself. I also like Meadowlark, Underground Sundae, Jimmy D and Karen Walker. Zambesi is fantastic, one of the best shopping experiences I've had.