From neon dreads to magenta rhinestone dresses, her whimsical and avant-garde stage look rivals that of rockstars and pop divas. Her soulful lyrics unfold like something from a dream and have topped charts internationally. Joonbug got a look into the world of one of the leading ladies in dance music, Kerli. See what she had to share about her inspiration, her background, and her journey to stardom.
Joonbug: You grew up in an abusive household in Estonia which was ruled by the Soviets at the time. Would you say art saved you?
Kerli: I think I saw making art as a way of escaping it all and when it got really rough I always tried to visualize how amazing life would be once I got out of there. So yeah, in a way it did save me.
Joonbug: How did you get involved in music?
Kerli: I always knew I was gonna make music. I got my first record deal when I was 14 and by the time was 16, I dropped out of school and started seriously focusing on writing. It was a huge shock for my family and they were really disappointed at first. Music is my favorite form of expression but I also design costumes and make shoes so that’s a close second.
Joonbug: You’re very open and honest in your songs. What is the process of writing a song like for you?
Kerli: It’s different every time. I used to really like writing about my own experience but now I find myself writing from someone else’s perspective as well which is a really exciting thing to do. I don’t have one certain way of writing.
Joonbug: What was the most liberating song for you to write?
Kerli: My most liberating song was probably 'Love Is Dead' 'cause it’s the most angry song I’ve ever done and it was the last song I wrote for the album. We thought we already had it all and wanted to write just something artistic. It ended up being the first single and the title track of the first album and I got to pour all my pain into it.
Joonbug: You created an online Street Team called "Moon Children." What exactly are the Moon Children and what gave you the idea for it?
Kerli: I created moon children about 5 years ago and the idea came when I was writing all these blogs about getting over depression etc. and saw that so many kids could relate. So it kinda grew over time and organically into this community where other Moon Children have as much say as I do where it’s going next. We have our secret hand gestures that the ones who know can spot in my music videos, we have the 3 dots that symbolize integrity, love and unity, we have a teddy bear mascot that we all named together and many other things. Moon Children really really inspire me.
Joonbug: Having described yourself as a "small town girl," what is the hardest thing to hold on to once you’re in the music industry?
Kerli: Well at first you just get burned a lot. I had a lot of faith in people and got screwed over a lot when I started but after all that's happened I still have the same values I started with. I believe in love and treating people like you wanna be treated. Also, I never compromise the quality of the music and visuals. I am so, so blessed with the people I have in my team now. Everyone is absolutely spiritual and we keep it very much about putting the right energy out there and focusing on our sole purpose - to make people happy and have a quality time doing it.
Joonbug: You have a very whimsical and unique look. How much of it is a persona and how much is truly you? Where did you get the inspiration for your style?
Kerli: It’s hard to say 'cause since it’s me creating the imagery, it has to be all me, right? If I write a song that is channeling someone else's emotions, is there a way that it’s not truly me? I’m lucky cause I have a real story so I don’t have to make it up. I also hand-make most of the costumes in my videos and stuff so even if I’m creating a Geisha/Goddess character it represents a part of me. I can’t separate it really.
Joonbug: What has been your favorite memory along your musical journey?
Kerli: Too many memories to pick one but the best advice I have gotten was before a show. It was gonna be just me with a mic and all the other performers had 8 dancers and a million things going on. I felt really nervous but someone told me: ”If you can’t rock this stage, how are you gonna rock the world?” That was priceless.