Kim Petras on Tour Life, Dante’s Inferno, and Truck Stop Dick
Kim Petras, self-described “hot trucker bitch,” feels most herself on the road. After a Grammy win, followed by the release of two albums, Feed the Beast and Problematique, the German pop doll has embarked on her most ambitious tour yet. With bigger venues, louder crowds, and flashier production, the Feed the Beast World Tour is a victory lap for Petras, lending an added visual dimension to her pop anthems, with references ranging from Madonna to Dario Argento to German fairytales. Halfway through her first leg of the tour, fresh off a show in Vancouver, Petras called us up to talk truck stop shenanigans, cottage-girl tour bus decor, and Dante’s Inferno.
KIM PETRAS: Hi.
NICHOLSON BAIRD: Hello. How’s it going?
PETRAS: Good. How are you?
BAIRD: Not too bad.
PETRAS: I woke up on the bus and I’m a mess.
BAIRD: Love it. How’s tour been so far?
PETRAS: Amazing. I love nothing more than being on tour. It’s how I want my life to be. I never want it to stop. I just love waking up in a different city every day and I don’t like being in the same place for longer than a month anyway, so it’s heaven. And I get to see my fans every night and do what I love every night and sing. I write the songs with ideas for how I want to perform them. I make the music videos with visuals in mind for tours so they can collide. The best version of myself is when I’m on tour.
BAIRD: That’s so great. Where are you right now?
PETRAS: I’m in Portland. We drove overnight from Vancouver. Just backstage in my dressing room, about to go to Glam, about to do a soundcheck.
BAIRD: And you’re a little over halfway through the North and South American portion of the tour, right?
PETRAS: Unfortunately, yes.
BAIRD: Which crowd has been the best so far?
PETRAS: Brooklyn was insane. Chicago was insane. Last night, Vancouver was pretty crazy. I like venues without seats. I like the warehouse vibe where people can stand and dance, and I feel like my music is better for that so that it feels more like a party than a stadium, sitting down with your drink and observing. I don’t really love looking at a sea of people who all sit. It’s just not my jam. Which is why I’ve picked the venues I have, so that it feels more like a party than a stadium, sitting down with your drink and observing.
BAIRD: I feel like, to be at a Kim Petras concert is to want to be touched by a different person all over, the entire time.
PETRAS: Yes, me too. Which is something I’m so proud of. There’s definitely gay sex happening, which is lit.
PETRAS: In the crowd, and that’s the goal.
BAIRD: That’s fucking fabulous.
BAIRD: What do you think has made this tour different from your others in the past? What makes the Feed the Beast Tour stand out?
PETRAS: Well, it’s been some time since I toured. I’ve learned a lot about performing since then. I’ve just grown so much as a performer, and I think this show is a bit of a manifesto. It’s more me and why I am an artist and why I do what I do. And if you look at the show, it’s kind of inspired by Dante’s Inferno and the different levels of hell. And I just realigned those different levels with my EPs. So the Pop level, the Turn Off the Light level, the Ice level, the Feed the Beast level, the disco dick at the end. I come out in an iron maiden. Everything’s very symbolic for my life and you really have to overanalyze it to get it all. And my obsession with Greek mythology and German fairytales and all of that stuff, all of my passions are very deeply in there.
BAIRD: Our fashion director, Dara, came into the office the morning after your show in Brooklyn and said to me, “This massive disco ball dick.” It was the first thing she talked about.
PETRAS: Yeah, that’s powerful. No, it’s a crazy show.
BAIRD: I know you’re so dedicated to a true, unapologetic pop sound. For this tour, what pop legends have inspired you the most, do you think?
PETRAS: I have a very direct reference to Madonna in this tour with the bed, and me masturbating to myself as a man on stage. So Madonna is a huge influence always. I am a huge fan of Muse’s shows. I watch them all the time. Their staging is incredible and I think people really don’t come close. Rammstein, I love a Rammstein show. I’d say the Slut Pop section is very inspired by Rammstein. Then, who else? Honestly, I’ve mostly been inspired by movies and directors. There’s this one section I want to feel like a Dario Argento movie. And this whole section I want to feel like a John Carpenter movie. I do a pretty direct reference to Nosferatu, which is this iconic German horror movie. So that’s my Halloween section.
BAIRD: Word. And that makes sense because it’s such a visual show.
PETRAS: Yeah, it’s exciting for the first time to have screen content. There’s literally a shadow version of myself that I get to dance with who’s behind me, and I mirror its moves. It’s cool to kind interact with a screen like that. I’ve never done that. And also having three turntables this time around the stage, it really feels like the stage is this little haunted house of little tricks.
BAIRD: Can you walk me through getting ready for a show, physically, mentally, and vocally?
PETRAS: Alone time is super important to me, just to remember what I do everything for. So before a show, I take 20 minutes to myself. I workout and do a lot of yoga and I have a very rigorous schedule with my team and my trainers. They fly out to different cities. I listen to my favorite music. I get ready pretty early in the day, because I do a meet and greet with however many fans each night, and that’s really fun. Then I come backstage, I do my vocal warmups with my voice teacher, Val. She’s incredible and really taught me how to use my voice in a proper way, in a healthy way, so that I can sing night after night. Because in the past I was never trained how to sing. I was a songwriter first. I just started singing in my bedroom so I never properly learned. But over the last three years, I’ve trained with her, and you can really tell in the show that I’m able to do a lot more with my voice. And then I get into the outfit and I go see the dancers. They’re really important to me. I have these three amazing dancers and we do a little circle. We say whatever the fuck we feel for that day. Sometimes it’s, “Sluts forever.” Sometimes it’s, “Give face.” Sometimes it’s, “Be in the music.” Sometimes it’s, “Be a bitch.” It’s whatever comes to our heads. There’s probably seven looks overall in the show, which is insane. And I’m very proud of my clothing team and Seth, who designed my costumes with me. They usually come to me in dreams. And then I just talk to Seth and we design something and we look at swatches and samples, and sequence, and shapes, and how we can make it quick so I can change out of it. Everything’s stage proofed and comes off really fast and comes on really fast. So yeah, it’s cool.
BAIRD: Okay, so you’ve just finished a show. Right after, are we decompressing? Are we sleeping? Are we going out?
PETRAS: So yesterday, Vancouver is my creative director’s home, so his whole family came. The day before we had a family dinner in Vancouver with his whole family. We all just hung out and drank wine and it was super nice. And then I met a bunch of his friends. We went to a bar, we had a bunch of drinks, we talked, and then the bus call was 2:00 AM. So we got on the bus, drunk as hell, and passed out. I passed out in my wig, which I shouldn’t do, but fuck it. And then I woke up in a different city, and here I am about to shower and do another show. But I make sure I have fun, and I make sure I enjoy this time with my friends, because my makeup artist, my hairdresser, they’re all my close, close friends that I love being around. After tonight, I’ll go out again. Then I’ll have two days where I can just shut up, do nothing, rest and watch movies. So I can come back to the next show fully revived and fresh as a daisy, bitch.
BAIRD: That’s the trick. Do you like living on the bus?
PETRAS: I love it. This is the best bus I’ve ever had. It feels like a little girly cottage. I have little lights. I have some books that I’m excited to start reading. I hooked up my PlayStation to the bus. So even when we’re driving, I can light candles and watch a scary movie. I have a little walk-in closet where all the looks are hung up. And I just get to look like a hot trucker bitch. It’s heaven.
BAIRD: What are the essentials we’re picking up at the truck stop?
PETRAS: Jeans. I have around six pairs of jeans that are iconic. My favorite is this Acne pair that’s just absolutely destroyed and dirty and disgusting looking. And logo tees. I just got a shirt in Vancouver from the 70s that says, “The first ever Hookers Convention.” I wish I could have gone to the first ever Hookers Convention. That would’ve been lit. Oh, and I’m a loafer girl. And trucker hats are very important, Ed Hardy trucker hats. Yeah, suck some dick at the truck stop.
BAIRD: Naturally. Well, thank you so much for getting on the phone with me.
PETRAS: Thank you so much. Hell yeah, this was fun.