If you asked Kim Petras if she always knew she’d be a star, the answer would be a resounding “yes.”
The LA-based 25-year-old singer/songwriter, who grew up in Cologne, Germany -- and made worldwide headlines in her early teens by advocating for early gender reassignment surgery rights (she fully transitioned by the age of 16) -- has always been obsessed with pop stardom. In a recent interview with Huffington Post, she admitted to having a specific goal since the age of 13: “I’m going to write a hit song.”
Easier said than done but with last year’s debut track “I Don’t Want It At All” topping Spotify’s Viral Songs chart, working with Charli XCX on “Unlock It” (from her “Pop 2” mixtape), and hitting the road on Troye Sivan's upcoming tour -- she’s more than well on her way.
Perhaps the biggest case in point: Her early-2018 single, “Heart to Break,” is a certified banger whose video has garnered more than 3.2 million views on YouTube alone. Consider that "hit song" goal accomplished, eh?
But Petras is far from done. In fact, she’s just getting started. After performing at LA Pride in June, she’s about to storm our very own San Diego Pride Music Festival on Saturday, July 14 in Balboa Park. I reached out to Petras to ask her about her upcoming Pride performance, the importance of supporting the LGBTQ movement, and her future plans.
Dustin Lothspeich: You just performed last month at LA Pride -- what was that experience like?
Kim Petras: Really fun, I loved it! It felt cool to play a show at home. I feel like I’m always hanging out where we played and where the stage was. So many people were there, it was super packed. There were some difficulties with the sound and people couldn’t hear me and I ended up singing a cappella with the crowd singing my lyrics -- it was a lot of fun and it was really cool having all my friends there.
DL: What are you looking forward to about San Diego Pride the most?
KP: I’m going to stay the weekend and I’m going to bring my friends and we’re just going to explore San Diego, so I’m super excited because I hear amazing things about it. I can’t wait.
DL: SD Pride's theme is “equality, protection and inclusion” -- explain why supporting the LGBTQ community is so important to you.
KP: Growing up as a LGBTQ kid, I think there’s difficulties that we all go through that connect us, that we understand each other. I think we’re always a family. You know you can go into any club anywhere and be accepted. I’ve just always had a bond and I’ve always cared a lot about making progress and about fighting for the LGBTQ kids who have it just a little harder than most other kids.
DL: Do you feel like it's paramount, maybe now more than ever, to get actively involved?
KP: I think it’s important to be involved now because with what’s going on right now, it’s important to speak up about what’s important to you and what you believe in. I think that’s super important. I think in a weird way through this whole Drumpf thing, I think the bond is getting stronger and there’s more of a sense of fighting for something together. I think it’s really important to speak up about what you believe in and what you want the world to be.
DL: Music is such a unifying experience among people -- why do you think that is?
KP: I’ve always looked up to amazing artists who were talking about things that I cared about, who were just strong people I looked up to as a kid. I definitely feel like my favorite pop stars have molded me as a person and I definitely looked up to them for what they believed in. Music, in general, is an amazing way to make people come together and just have fun together no matter what sexuality you have or whatever box people put you in. It’s just a thing where you’re there to have fun and that’s why I love music because you can just forget about your problems and have fun.
DL: You've worked with Charli XCX among other artists -- if you could collaborate with anyone else in music right now, who would it be?
KP: Definitely Drake because his new album is super fire and he keeps on being a really amazing artist and dropping banger singles so I just really respect Drake. I know I’m totally fan-girling…so yeah, definitely Drake.
DL: What are your plans for the rest of 2018?
KP: A lot of stuff! I definitely want to drop so much more music this year, the kind of music I can’t wait to share. I’m going on tour with Troye, which is going to be my first real tour; I’m so excited I’m going to go everywhere in America and thank everybody and meet a bunch of fans. I want to do more music videos. I want to do more fashion stuff, I love doing shoots and magazines and collaborating with brands. My first merch line is going to drop this year, which I’m so excited about. And whatever cool opportunities come my way but for sure just keeping busy.
DL: Lastly, San Diego is famous for a lot of things but namely its beaches, burritos and beer: Is there anything else besides Pride that you're looking to experience while you're in town?
KP: Well, now beaches, burritos, and beer! I think we’re just going to go and explore. I’m bringing my friend Jessie St. John, who’s an artist too, and I’m always having a super fun time with him. I think we’re going to try and party a little bit and meet everybody and just see what’s out there. If anybody has any suggestions, just please hit me up on Twitter or Instagram and just let me know because I want to see some crazy s--- in San Diego!
The 2018 San Diego Pride Music Festival takes place on Saturday and Sunday, July 14-15, at Marston Point in Balboa Park. Festival headliners include TLC, JoJo, Kim Petras and more. Tickets are available online here.
Dustin Lothspeich is a San Diego Music Award-winning musician, an associate editor at NBC SoundDiego since 2013, talent buyer at The Merrow, and founder of the music equipment-worshipping blog Gear and Loathing in San Diego. Follow his updates on Twitter or contact him directly.