L.A.-based pop artist Kerli is spreading love. She calls her latest EP, Utopia, “a collection of positive energy” and via collaborations with artists like Switch and “musical soulmates” SeventyEight, she creates big beat laden synth dance soundtracks for big nights out.
Raised in Estonia, Kerli has been working in the pop music system since she was a teenager. Now 26, she has become an Internet icon thanks to her striking fashion sense (often referred as “bubble goth,”) and a legion of young fans that call themselves Moon Children. We recently talked to Kerli about the Moon Children, her 2008 debut full-length Love Is Dead, bubble goth, and the advice she wishes she had gotten when she was young.
How have the Moon Children evolved over the years?
It's a pretty cool little community. When I moved here six years ago, none of my music was out yet, even though I had been writing and recording for years . I started Moon Children way before the music was released. It started with me just blogging and doing YouTube videos, kind of ranting about the world. I didn't really feel like I fit in ever. I had all these thoughts and messages that I wanted to share with the world, and a bunch of kids really connected with them. You don't have to be a Kerli fan to be a Moon Child. Being a Moon Child is about believing in integrity, love and unity. Moon Children started way before the music was ever out, so it's almost a separate thing.
You've become well known online for your fashion sense. Could you explain Bubble Goth?
It's funny because I'm just kind of in and out of the bubble goth thing. Someone once wrote a review and called me bubble goth, trying to be offensive. Some original goth was mad that people were saying that I was goth. They were like, 'If anything, she's bubble goth!' I was like, 'that's brilliant. That totally works.' I started developing this look. In videos, I try to take cyber fashion and goth fashion and twist the colors, turn the colors around. I don't think that I've completely nailed what bubble goth is, but I'm working towards it. One of my next videos is going to be that true bubble goth explosion. Since it doesn't really exist, it takes a lot of time to craft and create. I can't really buy things; I've had to get better at making them.
You've done some high profile soundtrack work, like [Almost Alice, from Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland]. Has your work on soundtracks helped bring in new fans?
Everything you do kind of helps. Now, the way that I approach music is that I'm just going to make the best music I can make and I'm going to work my butt off as much as I can. Really, the rest of it is out of my hands.
I don't have specific goals anymore. I'm just going to try to do good work and inspire kids, teach them things I wish somebody would have taught me when I was growing up in a small town where there no one that inspired me in any way, in what they did for a living, or their actions, or how they chose to live. I just want to create a positive community.
What sort of things do you wish people told you when you were younger?
I just wish that people would dare to dream bigger, and I wish that I had known creative people. The way creative people live is different from people who don't do anything creative. I like when life feels playful. I wish that I had known some crazy who would have had a house like what my house looks and I could have gone over and tried on crazy things, handmade things. I just started making things four years ago. I had the honor to work with some amazing creative people on my videos. I learned a lot, even how to make costumes.
What is it that you're trying to impart upon the Moon Children?
I just try to keep the energy really positive. When I have a bad day, I don't really blog. Obviously, I get pissed off and I get tired and angry. I'm human. I try to just completely cut that side out and only give them positive energy. I try to inspire by being an example of that. In everything I do, I try to be an example of that.
I personally run my social media, so I read all the messages. I get amazing messages. I try to respond as much as possible. Slow, but steady. Sometimes it's just one thing that you need to hear to completely change your life.
When I first started songwriting, I was going to Sweden to songwrite when I was 16. There was this lady working for the company, and everyday I would go and I would lay on her couch and say, 'Do you believe in me?' She would always say, 'Of course, I believe in you.' For years, that kept me going.
There are a lot of really depressed kids. They write that they're cutting themselves or whatever. I try to help them realize that there are more good things coming. Just because you're depressed at 16, you still have everything ahead of you. I just try to plant little nuggets like that and change people's lives.