How Natalia Kills went from being "unGoogleable" to being on everyone's radar
She knows exactly who she is creatively. Even in a short conversation, that much is clear. Natalia Kills, born Natalia Cappuccini in West Yorkshire, England, is a strong character: chatty, insightful and ready to pounce. Her album, "Perfectionist," comes out in North America August 16, preceded by a 10-part web series, "Love, Kills, xx," in which she stars and co-directs. The 24-year-old is a take-charge type.
A child actress from age 7, she moved to London alone at 14 (a fact she doesn't find brave or remarkable) and worked in the long-running BBC radio drama "The Archers." She also started writing songs, and in 2003, at the age of 15, signed her first record deal with the now defunct Adventures in Music. She adopted her stage name "Kills" late in her career, after she signed her current deal with will.i.am Music Group/Cherrytree/Interscope.
"No, not at all," Kills counters, as the interview kicks off over the telephone. "And when you say late in my career, I just began, so I don't really know what you mean by late? I haven't been famous since I was 30, and now I'm 65. So I don't really know what you mean by late in my career? I'm literally at the beginning right now."
But you had another record deal nine years ago?
"Oh yeah, I did," she says. "I had a record deal when I was 15, but like all 15 year olds that get signed to an indie, nothing really happened with it. I just didn't like anything about it so I quit and went back to what I was doing before, which was songwriting."
She chose the surname Kills after someone ("I don't even know if it was Will," she says of the Black Eyed Peas member who signed her) told her Cappuccini was "unGoogleable."
"I thought the most beautiful and apt thing to call myself would be 'Kills' because it really describes my personality," she says of her adopted moniker. "I'm a perfectionist and I give 100 percent of my passion to everything, so I thought 'Kills' was the most appropriate and accurate description of how I would depict myself.... We say it in England a lot -- if someone gives 100 percent of their energy to something that defines them, we always say, 'You killed it,' like saying Naomi Campbell was wearing killer heels or Michael Jackson was an amazing singer; he killed it onstage."
After releasing a self-produced and self-penned EP, "Wommanequin," under her given name, she signed her record deal in early 2008 and started the yearlong process of making a full-length album. As a taste, she released a dark and unsettling electro-based song "Zombie" with a companion video and posted it online. It now has close to 700,000 views on YouTube.
"It set the record for my visual aesthetic and set the record for what I was doing in 2009, which was, I guess, what people now are calling 'dark pop,'" Kills says, "but at the time, it was just what I was doing, my kind of thing. And then while I was doing that, I was making the [web] show and finishing my album.
Videos for the brighter dance-pop track "Wonderland" and the S&M electro-rocker "Mirrors" were also released: one a kind of elaborate, military Alice In Wonderland and the other a dark S&M voyeur storyboard.
None of the songs on "Perfectionist" can be found on "Wommanequin."
"I suppose my album, 'Perfectionist,' is the sequel to the demo," Kills says. "It's the evolution of the demo because the demo, 'Wommanequin,' was literally me saying: 'I'm not perfect' and I wish more than anything I was perfect -- the perfect woman, mannequin-style perfect, like physically and serene mentally and everything like that. That's where the concept of this obsession with perfection and the frustration that comes with dealing with imperfection started."
Her web series, 'Love, Kills, xx,' is also tied in with her album and features music from it. There's no dialogue, she says; it's more based on emotion and action.
"Each webisode is a three-minute film in which something happens that's either drastic or dramatic or violent and mysterious," Kills explains.
"I wanted to make a visual expression because my whole album is like a sonic expression of all of my life experiences. Everything I write about in my songs is actually my opinion on what I've really been through," Kills explains. "I wanted to make a visual interpretation of the things that people don't usually share -- the things that I'm thinking about when I'm lying awake at night or when I'm stuck in traffic -- all of my regrets and desires and things I'm ashamed of or things I'm afraid of and I just added all of those little ideas.
"I wanted people to get to know me so well from this, and so personally, that I wanted them to be submerged in the sounds that define me and, of course, most of that music is on my album and I have new music now, which is even better."
- Watch Natalia Kills in "Love, Kills, xx" episode 1
- Watch Natalia Kills in "Love, Kills, xx" episode 2
- Watch Natalia Kills in "Love, Kills, xx" episode 3
- Watch Natalia Kills in "Love, Kills, xx" episode 4